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Round-up of Friday's headlines

Here's a recap of the main headlines so far this Friday.

  • Iain Duncan Smith says the "spin and smear" tactics being used by the campaign to stay in the EU risk long-term damage to the government.
  • Only the Tories can challenge the SNP and prevent Scotland becoming a "one party state", David Cameron says.
  • An inquest into the death of a young Conservative activist will not look at allegations of bullying in the party, a coroner rules.
  • Wales is "crying out for new leadership" after 17 years of Labour rule, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood says.
  • The Home Office is told by MPs to get a grip on a scheme to secure the UK's borders, which is set to be at least eight years late and cost £1bn.  

Referendum campaigning is set to continue apace over the weekend, with a major Grassroots Out rally in Northern Ireland. There is also plenty to look forward to on the weekend talk shows, with Boris Johnson and Germany's finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble among Andrew Marr's Mothering Sunday guests. 

Plaid puts forward 'ambitious' election pledges

Plaid Cymru says its election manifesto pledges will be independently verified.

The manifesto pledges being put forward by Plaid Cymru will be independently verified, its leader has said Speaking to Andrew Neil on the Daily Politics, Leanne Wood said: "All of our pledges, while they are ambitious, will be able to be delivered in the existing Assembly budget." Plaid aims to challenge Labour, which has run the nation for 17 years, at the Welsh Assembly elections in May.

Plaid Cymru says its election manifesto pledges will be independently verified.

The manifesto pledges being put forward by Plaid Cymru will be independently verified, its leader has said Speaking to Andrew Neil on the Daily Politics, Leanne Wood said: "All of our pledges, while they are ambitious, will be able to be delivered in the existing Assembly budget." Plaid aims to challenge Labour, which has run the nation for 17 years, at the Welsh Assembly elections in May.

Harman responds to Corbyn prostitution comments

Comments that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn reportedly made about prostitution are causing a bit of a stir. The Labour leader reportedly told students at Goldsmith's University on Thursday that he was personally in favour of decriminalising sex work. This is how the Guardian is reporting what he said. 

I am in favour of decriminalising the sex industry. I don’t want people to be criminalised. I want to be [in] a society where we don’t automatically criminalise people. Let’s do things a bit differently and in a bit more civilised way."

Harriet Harman, Mr Corbyn's predecessor as Labour leader, and other Labour MPs have now responded. Ms Harman has championed a campaign to criminalise those who pay for sex and seems none too pleased about what her party leader has been saying. 

twitter: https://twitter.com/HarrietHarman/status/705763905709150209
twitter: https://twitter.com/jessphillips/status/705746860301033472
Helen Lewis talks claims of Project Fear as she reviewed the week in Westminster.

The New Statesman's Helen Lewis takes to a dungeon to talk claims of Project Fear as she reviews the political week in Westminster, dominated by the upcoming EU referendum.

Moodbox vote on which politicians can be trusted over the UK's future links to the EU.

The Daily Politics moodbox vote is used to test whether voters trust George Osborne on Boris Johnson more over the UK's future links to the EU. Reporter Giles Dilnot took the unscientific test, with a plastic box and balls, to get views ahead of the June referendum.

Scottish lessons for UK's EU referendum?

Conservative Liam Fox and the SNP's Stephen Gethins on EU 'Project Fear' claims.

Former Defence Secretary and pro-Leave campaigner Liam Fox, and the SNP's Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins, campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU, spoke to Andrew Neil about possible Scottish lessons for June's EU referendum.

Lewis' fearful review of the week in politics

Helen Lewis talks claims of Project Fear as she reviewed the week in Westminster.

The New Statesman's Helen Lewis takes to a dungeon to talk claims of Project Fear as she reviews the political week in Westminster, dominated by the upcoming EU referendum.

Do voters trust Osborne or Johnson on EU referendum?

Moodbox vote on which politicians can be trusted over the UK's future links to the EU.

The Daily Politics moodbox vote is used to test whether voters trust George Osborne on Boris Johnson more over the UK's future links to the EU. Reporter Giles Dilnot took the unscientific test, with a plastic box and balls, to get views ahead of the June referendum.

Tebbit: PM would 'probably' quit if UK votes Leave

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

BBC

Lord Tebbit also suggests David Cameron would stand down as prime minister if the UK votes to leave the EU.

Mr Cameron has already said he will not seek a third term as PM, and Lord Tebbit says that if there was a Leave vote, "he would I suppose feel that he probably should (stand down)" - saying it would be hard for him to negotiate the UK's exit "having said it would be a disaster if we did leave".

UK defence secretary says renewal of Trident 'should be an election issue' in Scotland

Michael Fallon dismissed Nicola Sturgeon's claim that theConservatives feared an SNP campaign against renewal of the nuclear weapons system in the run up to May's Holyrood election.

PA

Mr Fallon said: Tories "stand alongside the Scottish trade unions in wanting to see those jobs and skills retained in Scotland".

The UK defence secretary made the comment during a visit to small defence software firm SeeByte in Edinburgh.

Tebbit on 'silly' Remain campaign

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

Former Conservative Party chairman Lord Tebbit says there is a "good deal of silliness" coming from the Remain campaign. If voting to leave the EU is such a "leap in the dark", he asks, why was David Cameron willing to consider if if his reform demands had been rejected?

Facebook tax deal 'shrouded in secrecy'

Tax campaigner says there are questions for Facebook and HMRC over tax deal.

The former chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has said there many questions for Facebook and HMRC after the company agreed of a major overhaul of its tax structure. Speaking to Mark Mardell on BBC Radio 4's World at One programme Margaret Hodge said there are "so many unanswered questions" about the deal. The BBC has revealed that the profits from the majority of Facebook's advertising revenue initiated in Britain will now be taxed in the UK. It will no longer route sales through Ireland for its largest advertisers. (Image: Margaret Hodge. Credit: BBC)

Margaret Hodge on Facebook's tax

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

Labour MP and former head of the Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge says Facebook's tax announcement may be "a small step in the right direction".

But she says it is "shrouded in secrecy" with "so many unanswered questions" it is hard to know whether the company is paying "a proper amount" of tax.

Reaction to Facebook tax announcement

Differing reactions from the government and opposition to the Facebook tax changes that the BBC is reporting. 

Downing Street says: “We are committed to making sure multinationals pay their fair share of tax in the UK. That is why we have taken a wide range of action on this.”

Labour responds: "From what we can see this means little or no real substantive change at this time. This government must wake up to the scale of the corporate tax abuse scandal in the UK. The truth is that the chancellor has allowed a situation where some companies feel they can pay what they want when they want."

How much do UK farmers get from the European Union?

By Anthony Reuben

Reality Check

BBC

There was a bit of a howler on the Daily Politics today, when Stephen Bush from the New Statesman said: "The Common Agricultural Policy puts £200bn into the agriculture sector over the course of the next parliament."

After a hard stare from presenter Andrew Neil, he corrected himself to £20bn, a figure he had given earlier.

Is his corrected figure right? If you look at table 3f on page 18 of this government publication, you will see figures for EAGF and EAFRD (that's money paid directly to farmers and money received for rural development), which over the five years of the parliament are forecast to add up to £15.9bn.

'Project Fear' hurts us all - SNP MP

The Daily Politics

BBC

The SNP's foreign affairs spokesman Stephen Gethins says his party leader Nicola Sturgeon is one of the few people so far to have made an upbeat case for the economic, environmental and social benefits of EU membership and urges others on his side of the argument need to follow suit. 

I think that both sides have to learn the lessons that the Project Fear that was run during the (Scottish) independence referendum did nobody any favours. That is something we all need to take on board."

Liam Fox: Negative campaigning 'must be credible'

The Daily Politics

BBC

Liam Fox rejects suggestions that the Remain in EU campaign are only using tactics which unionists like him deployed during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. The Tory MP says he and others made a positive case for the union during that campaign, stressing the deep social, cultural, human and economic links between Scotland and the rest of the UK - which he contrasts with the UK's relationship with the "political entity" that is the EU. While he accepts that negative campaigning has been successful in the past, he insists that it has to be credible - claiming that Thursday's warning about the end of French border controls was taken from a very old press release. 

I hope the Remain side will want to put the case for Project Europe, ie - a supranational project which diminishes the ability of nation states to maintain their identities."

Boris Johnson: UK like a 'frog in boiling water' inside EU

BBC

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said that if the UK votes to stay in the EU in June it would be like "the frog in the boiling saucepan of water".

In an interview with the Evening Standard, the Tory MP - who backs EU exit - argued that if the UK was prepared to remain when the change on offer was so small, it would never again be able to push for more fundamental reform. 

We will never be able credibly to argue for any reform in Europe again...We will be signed up to this thing lock, stock and barrel — hook, line and sinker"

MP urges other firms to follow Facebook tax lead

The Labour MP who chairs the Commons Public Accounts Committee has urged other multinationals to restructure their tax arrangements after Facebook agreed in principle to changes which will result in it paying millions more in tax to the UK Treasury. Meg Hillier says it is up to companies to "get rid of" schemes and loopholes which minimise their tax contribution rather than waiting to be forced to do so by the authorities. 

If Facebook are changing their tax arrangements it shows that any large corporation, including Google, has the choice to do the same thing. Facebook have chosen of their own volition to change their tax arrangements. That shows that it’s possible for any company to do that. To have companies appearing in front of our committee bleating that it’s not their fault and it’s just the international tax laws, really it’s not the case.

Political chat from noon

The Daily Politics

twitter: https://twitter.com/daily_politics/status/705684410365034496

Andrew Neil is joined by Stephen Bush of the New Statesman and Carole Malone from the Sunday Mirror as his guests of the day on Friday's Daily Politics.And they will talk to Conservative Liam Fox and the SNP's Stephen Gethins about whether Scotland would be better off in or our of the EU.

twitter: https://twitter.com/daily_politics/status/705721444169175040

And talking about the referendum, reporter Giles Dilnot offers voters the unscientific choice of trusting Boris Johnson or George Osborne, You can watch the programme on the Live Coverage tab above.  

Leaders discuss Syria truce in 50-minute call

AFP

Details have emerged of David Cameron's phone call earlier with Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, Vladimir Putin and Matteo Renzi about Syria. 

Downing Street said the main point the European leaders made during the 50-minute conversation was to welcome the fact that the fragile truce appears to be holding.

The PM's spokesman said there was a sense from everybody on the call that this was an opportunity to create momentum behind the peace talks scheduled for next week.

The Russian President, he said, made it clear he wanted to ensure compliance with the cessation of hostilities while Mr Cameron made the point that there was a common interest in defeating Daesh. 

The PM was very clear about the need for the truce to hold and to be properly respected by all sides, and underlined the need for a transition away from President Assad towards an inclusive, representative government.

There was a very clear message from European leaders of the need to make sure civilians are not being targeted. They also spoke about the need to allow humanitarian aid to reach besieged towns.

Suzanne Evans loses UKIP welfare brief

Sun political correspondent tweets...

Suzanne Evans has confirmed she has lost her role as UKIP's welfare spokeswoman. Ms Evans, who helped put together the party's last election manifesto and was talked of briefly as a successor to Nigel Farage, was recently removed as the party's deputy chairwoman.

twitter: https://twitter.com/SuzanneEvans1/status/705716896851763200

PM: Tories 'only party of defence'

BBC

David Cameron turns his attack on Scottish Labour's plan to raise income tax, which includes a payment scheme for people earning under £20,000. 

It is "classic Labour - dock people's pay, hand some of it back to them and ask them to thank you for it", he says.

He goes on to say the Conservatives are "the only party of defence", arguing that the SNP want to scrap the Trident nuclear missile system, as does Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Opposition to Trident puts defence jobs and national security at risk, the PM says, arguing that he "cannot turn a blind eye to this appalling policy". 

Cameron warns of EU exit impact on food exports

Turning to the EU referendum, David Cameron warns that a vote to leave could lead to trade tariffs of 13% on Scottish salmon, 40% on lamb - and up to 70% on "some beef products". He says those advocating EU exit "need to look farmers in the eye" and explain what it will mean in practice. 

Conservatives 'the only party of the union'

BBC

David Cameron is speaking at the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party conference in Edinburgh. He pays tribute to the Scottish Tory team, including leader Ruth Davidson, who he describes as "a Sturgeon-slaying, Dugdale-defying, absolute star". The Conservatives are "the only party of the union" representing people who voted No in the independence referendum, he says.

Pic: Scottish activists wait for Cameron speech

BBC
Members of the Scottish Conservatives await the prime minister's arrival to give a speech in Edinburgh

Pic: Cameron arrives at Scottish Conservative conference

PM greeted by Ruth Davidson

BBC

Late MP's widow chosen to contest Sheffield seat

The widow of former Labour MP Harry Harpham has been chosen to fight the Westminster by-election triggered by his death from cancer last month. 

Gill Furniss was selected to contest the Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough seat by local party members at a meeting in the constituency yesterday.

The long-serving city councillor told the Press Association her selection so soon after she lost her husband was "bitter-sweet" but said she was determined to carry on his work for jobs and investment in the South Yorkshire city. 

Former miner Mr Harpham died just nine months after being elected in the 2015 general election to a seat formerly held by David Blunkett.

Labour had a comfortable majority of 13,807 in the seat in the 2015 general election. A date for the by-election has yet to be set. 

Simpsons' Shearer talks Oscars and US elections

Harry Sherarer, a voice of TV's The Simpsons, debates the Oscars and US elections.

Harry Shearer, a voice of TV's The Simpsons, looks at fairness in Hollywood after the debate over race at the 2016 Oscars. He also spoke about celebrity status in the US presidential election, when he joined Andrew Neil, Alan Johnson and Esther McVey on This Week.

Ruth Davidson says that current tensions over EU membership will not lead to future factions within the Conservative party

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson says that current tensions over EU membership will not lead to splits within her party.

' Easy to be accused of being a hand-wringing liberal do-gooder'

Owen Jones looks at the figures for migration and refugees as more people head to the UK.

Owen Jones looks at the figures for migration and refugees as more people head across Europe to the UK. He claimed that some shipping containers were being converted into trendy shops and cafes and shops, while the so-called Calais Jungle was being razed to the ground and replaced with containers that are "a lot less inviting". In a personal film for this week, the Guardian commentator said: "I went to the camps in Calais and the people I met, they were just like us."

Nigel Farage attacks 'irrelevant' UKIP MP

The Huffington Post

PA

News this morning of a new attack by UKIP leader Nigel Farage on his only MP, Douglas Carswell. The pair are backing rival Leave campaigns in the EU referendum.

According to HuffPost, when asked about Mr Carswell's decision to back Vote Leave, Mr Farage said:

He can do what he likes. I don’t care. He is irrelevant. I've never known Ukip more excited or united than it currently is. It’s very sad that Douglas Carswell can’t share that enthusiasm, or chooses to opt for the SW1 model of Vote Leave. You know what. It doesn’t really matter."

Downing Street responds to Duncan Smith criticism

Downing Street has responded to criticism from Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who has accused those making the case for staying in the EU of smears and scaremongering. "It's important to explain what leaving the EU means to the British people", a spokesman said. 

EU debate - what the papers say

There's plenty of EU referendum talk in this morning's front pages, following comments by France's finance minister about the future of border checks at Calais if the UK votes to leave. Browse the headlines and read a review of the papers here.

Farage: I despise 'lies' of Remain side

LBC

Iain Duncan Smith refrained from mentioning David Cameron personally when he attacked the arguments of the Remain in EU camp but Nigel Farage, unsurprisingly, has not been so guarded.

The UKIP leader has accused the prime minister of presenting an "apocalyptic vision" of what life would be like outside the EU. He told LBC Radio: 

 

I got into politics because I did not trust our politicians, I now despise them. Listening to the lies and arguments that have been made over the course of the last week, ‘if we vote to leave everyone in Spain will be rounded up and put on trains and sent back to Britain, millions of jobs will be lost’, this sort of apocalyptic vision that we are getting from Cameron and the others. The only thing they haven’t told us, which they may at some point, is that if we vote to leave a plague of locusts will descend on the country. It is just extraordinary.”

Liam Fox warns of strain on Scotland and England's relationship over EU vote

Update

Nick Eardley

BBC Scotland Westminster correspondent

Former defence secretary Liam Fox said there would be "anger" if England voted to leave the EU but the UK as a whole opts to stay.

He told a fringe meeting at the Scottish Conservative conference in Edinburgh that the decision was correctly being taken UK-wide.

However, Dr Fox admitted there would be strain on the relationship between Scotland and England if the former voted to stay and the latter to leave in the 23 June vote.

Getty Images

But he said there was no desire from politicians south of the border to end the union as a result.

Dr Fox also accused the pro-remain side of running a "project fear" campaign. 

The UK's EU referendum: All you need to know

Farage hoping to meet Boris to discuss EU exit

LBC

The UKIP leader says he is hoping to meet Boris Johnson soon to discuss their shared backing for leaving the EU. Mr Farage suggests the Mayor of London was a "bit wobbly" to begin after declaring his hand when he flirted with the idea of a second referendum but was now "making all the right arguments". Mr Johnson, he adds, is one of the few "genuinely recognisable" politicians in Britain and is likely to have "real influence" over how Conservatives in London and the Home Counties end up voting. 

He is a massive asset to our side of the argument...I have been in touch and said I would like to meet him and talk to him.

Farage: Government could 'ignore' Out vote

LBC

LBC

UKIP leader Nigel Farage says he fears the government could just "ignore" a vote to leave the EU and embark on a fresh round of negotiations about the UK's membership. Speaking on his regular LBC phone-in, Mr Farage said such was his mistrust of Westminster politicians that he couldn't be sure they would "carry out the will" of the people if they voted to leave the EU on 23 June. He says there would be a temptation for them to renew talks in search of a better deal which could then be the subject of a second referendum.

If they do that to us, you will see the biggest protest march through London you have ever seen...I will be there at the front...We can win this referendum but then we will have a battle to make sure Parliament does its job."

Leanne Wood: Time for a change in Wales

PA

The Scottish Conservatives are not the only party gathering together in anticipation of important elections in May.

Plaid Cymru is hosting its last get-together before the Welsh Assembly polls, with its leader Leanne Wood set to argue that Wales is "crying out for new leadership" after 17 years of Labour rule.

She dismissed Labour and Conservative claims the assembly election in May was a two-way contest between them.

Speaking before her party's conference in Llanelli, Ms Wood stressed the NHS as a key priority for Plaid Cymru. She rejected the idea of a coalition with the Tories, but said she was ruling out nothing else. Read more