Defence procurement privatisation 'dead in the water', says peer

Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) The Defence Equipment and Support agency buys aircraft and other weaponry for British forces

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Plans to privatise the UK government's defence procurement arm are "dead in the water", a former defence minister has claimed.

Lord Lee of Trafford told peers there were now too few private firms bidding to take over the organisation which employs 21,000 people across the UK.

He strongly criticised the MoD's oversight of the project.

Government minister Lord Astor accepted the situation was "challenging" but insisted a deal was still possible.

The Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) agency, which is based in Bristol, has an annual budget of £14bn to buy equipment, including ships, aircraft, vehicles and weapons, for Britain's armed forces.

The Ministry of Defence has been considering whether it would be best run as a quango in partnership with a private contractor or as a "government-owned, contractor-operated" (GoCo) body.

The plan involved inviting private firms to bid for the GoCo contract. Initially three consortia demonstrated an interest.

But Defence Secretary Philip Hammond revealed in a written statement on Tuesday that just one bidding consortium remained.

'Bone-headed'

The government was now considering "whether it is in the public interest to proceed with only a single commercial bidder and an internal option, or whether alternative approaches should be considered and a further statement will be made once this process is complete", he said.

Lord Lee, who served as a Conservative defence procurement minister in the mid-1980s, urged ministers to reach a decision more swiftly.

"My Lords, is the reality not that the GoCo competition concept is now totally dead in the water?" he asked.

"The very fact that this one bidder, the Bechtel consortium, has a bid in of 1,200 pages surely draws attention to the manifest absurdity and complexity of the bid process."

The project had been "driven through" by Chief of Defence Materiel Bernard Gray "with very little support in MoD and the services", the peer said.

"Should not he now, in the circumstances, given that it has collapsed, consider his own position and consider resigning?"

The peer also condemned the Treasury's "bone-headed" oversight of recruitment to defence procurement roles, which he claimed had prevented the MoD from bringing in valuable private-sector experience.

Defence minister Lord Astor of Hever conceded: "We have always known that running a defence acquisition would be challenging."

'Big Dig'

But he said the status quo was "simply not acceptable".

The government was "convinced that we absolutely must change our process to deliver the best value for money for the taxpayer and enable the right equipment and support to be delivered on time for our armed forces", he continued.

"The very fact that one commercial bid team has submitted a bid shows that they believe there is a potential deal and they can deliver against requirement," he argued.

Labour's Lord Touhig, also a former defence minister, cast doubt on Bechtel's suitability for the task.

"In Boston [Massachusetts], for instance, they were responsible for the Big Dig - a tunnel construction project that went a billion pounds over budget and two-thirds of the problem was down to their mistakes.

"Given their mismanagement of the Big Dig, if Bechtel gain control of our defence procurement will not Britain's defences end up in a big hole?" he asked.

The "Big Dig" project cost Boston about $20bn (£12.5bn), rerouting the city's main highway into a 3.5 mile (5.6km) tunnel.

Lord Astor dismissed this prediction, and said the consortium consisted of "world-class private sector businesses" including PWC and PA Consulting.

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  1.  
    @JamesManning4 12:29: James Manning, Head of Social at @TheSunNewspaper

    tweets: Huge emotion from Cameron on the NHS there. Remarkable moment.

     
  2.  
    12:29: Breaking News

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  3.  
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  4.  
    12:26: Pensions

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  5.  
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  6.  
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  7.  
    12:23: Unions

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  8.  
    @patrick_kidd 12:23: Patrick Kidd, Editor of The Times Diary column

    tweets: This is a really good speech. Unless you viscerally hate Cameron and the Tories in which case nothing he could say would change you.

     
  9.  
    Tweet: @BBCPolitics 12:22: Get involved

    @Brynleydm tweets: @BBCLouise @BBCPolitics Cameron speech full of what no mention of how

     
  10.  
    12:22: Education

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  11.  
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    Samantha Cameron watching her husband
     
  12.  
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  13.  
    @paulwaugh 12:18: Paul Waugh, Editor of PoliticsHome.com

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  14.  
    12:17: Forgetting

    David Cameron goes on the attack now - criticising Ed Miliband for forgetting to mention the deficit in his speech. In a conciliatory note, Mr Cameron says people forget car keys and that he even forget his child in a pub (queue an apology to his wife, Samantha, in the audience). But you cannot be prime minister of this country if you forget to mention the most important issue it faces, he adds.

     
  15.  
    @rosschawkins 12:16: Ross Hawkins, BBC

    tweets: Cameron takes aim at Nick Clegg's fox

     
  16.  
    12:15: Spending choice

    Let the message go out that under the Conservatives, if you work hard and do the right thing, we say you should keep all of your own money to spend as you choose, David Cameron tells conference.

     
  17.  
    12:15: PM: Minimum-wage earners to pay "nothing"
    David Cameron on taxes
     
  18.  
    12:13: Breaking News

    Another tax announcement - David Cameron says far too many people have been dragged into the 40% tax rate - and pledges to bring back "fairness" to tax system. He says a future Tory government would raise the threshold from £41,900 to £50,00.

     
  19.  
    12:13: 'Zilch'

    David Cameron says raising the income tax threshold to £12,500 will take one million more people out of income tax, and give a tax cut to 30 million people. Those on the minimum wage working 30 hours a week or more will pay "zilch" in income tax, he says to applause.

     
  20.  
    12:11: Breaking News

    A future Conservative government will raise the tax free personal allowance from £10,500 to £12,500, David Cameron pledges.

     
  21.  
    12:11: More on taxes

    We need tax cuts for hard working people, David Cameron tells activists.

     
  22.  
    12:11: Taxes

    David Cameron says he wants working people to be able to take home more of their money. He cites previous action, including raises in the personal income tax allowance - which has taken three million people out of the income tax system altogether: a tax cut for 25 million people, he adds. The PM tells conference he wants to go further - but says it will only be possible by reducing the deficit, which requires a further £25bn of savings.

     
  23.  
    12:10: 'Yorkshireman' trending on Twitter

    @TradeDesk_Steve tweets: Cameron performs an impression of William Hague - says Hague is our greatest living Yorkshireman. @tonyhatfield tweets: Odd that political commentators are obsessed in debating whether Hague is 'best living Yorkshireman'. #cpc2014 #bbcdp

     
  24.  
    12:09: Welfare plan

    On tax avoidance, David Cameron adds that companies must "pay what you owe". Turning to welfare, he says the Conservatives will stick to their plan which is "working". He tells activists that 800,00 fewer people are on the main out-of-work benefits thanks to the Conservatives' welfare reforms. He reiterates policy announcements made this week, including more apprenticeships and a lower benefits cap. The Conservatives are the real party of compassion on social justice, Mr Cameron adds.

     
  25.  
    12:05: Corporate taxes

    David Cameron pledges that a future Conservative government will have the lowest corporate taxes in the G20.

     
  26.  
    12:05: If a selfie isn't possible...
    Audience member taking a picture of David Cameron
     
  27.  
    12:04: Commitments

    David Cameron sets out Conservative commitments for the next five years, including more jobs, help to buy homes, lower taxes - but says these are only possible if the government sticks to its long-term economic plan.

     
  28.  
    12:01: 'Nothing's easy'

    The prime minister says the past four years of government have been about "laying the foundations" for Britain's future growth by steering the economy to recovery - but that the next five years will be about improving people's living standards. It's about "you, and your family - and helping you to get on", he adds. But he warns that nothing comes easy - and says the British public know this.

     
  29.  
    12:00: 'Chance for all'

    I believe in something for something, not something for nothing, David Cameron tells conference. He stresses his deep patriotism and desire to make Britain a place that everyone is proud to call home. This is not just about making the lines on the graph go in the right direction - it is about helping people to live better lives, he adds. A country that rewards hard work, "not a free-for-all, but a chance for all".

     
  30.  
    11:58: Future

    David Cameron says he wants to secure a working majority at the general election, telling conference that entering into coalition with the Lib Dems was not what he wanted to do but what he had to do. He's now setting out his vision for Britain's future.

     
  31.  
    11:57: English devolution

    David Cameron says he has one more task for William Hague - to ensure "fairness" in the UK's constitutional settlement. He says further devolved powers for Scotland must be matched by greater English devolution - and vows English votes for English laws.

     
  32.  
    @toryboypierce 11:57: Andrew Pierce, Journalist

    tweets: Having met Michael Gove's puppy he's right. You would trust it more than Ed Miliband to do down Putin

     
  33.  
    11:57: William Hague laughs at David Cameron's impersonation
    William Hague laughing
     
  34.  
    11:56: Prime mimicker

    David Cameron draws laughter from the crowd as he attempts to impersonate ex-Conservative leader William Hague. He says he owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Mr Hague, who is standing down as an MP at the general election. Activists give Mr Hague a standing ovation.

     
  35.  
    11:56: Jihadists warning

    David Cameron highlights the UK's role in military operations against IS militants in Iraq - and says there is no walk-on-by option. He says the Conservatives will do whatever it takes to keep the country safe. To British nationals who go abroad to jihadist wars in Syria and Iraq, Mr Cameron sends a message: "You are an enemy of the UK and you should expect to be treated as such."

     
  36.  
    11:53: 'Hellish crucible'

    David Cameron tells conference he wants to set out how to build a Britain that "everyone is proud to call home". He pays tribute to UK combat troops in Afghanistan - who are returning from operations at the end of the year. Activists applaud. He goes on to stress the threat posed by Islamist extremism which has found a "hellish crucible" with IS in Iraq.

     
  37.  
    11:52: The cabinet stands to applaud
    The Cabinet applauds David Cameron
     
  38.  
    @janemerrick23 11:51: Jane Merrick, Political Editor of @indyonsunday & columnist for @independent

    tweets: "The run up to that referendum was the most nerve-racking of my life" says Cameron. Good honest admission #cpc14

     
  39.  
    11:50: David Cameron gets standing ovation
    David Cameron entering the stage
     
  40.  
    11:50: Scottish referendum

    David Cameron opens by talking about the Scottish independence referendum. He tells conference of his pride at being able to stand there as prime minister "of four nations in one United Kingdom". He pays tribute to Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson. He describes the lead-up to the referendum as one of the "most nervous weeks of my life".

     
  41.  
    11:47: PM is here

    Activists are on their feet as David Cameron takes to the stage. Union flags are being waved. His cabinet is lined up along the front row, clapping.

     
  42.  
    @BBCRichardMoss 11:46: Richard Moss, BBC

    tweets: The Killers providing the soundtrack to warm-up video for Cameron speech at #cpc14. Will PM be Mr Brightside? See what I did there.

     
  43.  
    11:45: Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Danny Finkelstein, columnist for The Times and a Conservative peer, says the confidence in the Conservative Party this week is based on the fact that Ed Miliband had a "very bad week".

     
  44.  
    11:44: Not long

    The audience is being treated to a short film before the leader's speech. David Cameron's wife, Samantha, has just taken her seat.

     
  45.  
    @BBCLouise 11:43: Louise Stewart, BBC

    tweets: Gove says he would trust his Bichon Frisée puppy dog Snowy over Ed Miliband to face down Putin

     
  46.  
    @BBCNormanS 11:42: Norman Smith, BBC

    tweets: Theresa May leadership stakes go up another notch as Michael Gove refers to her as "The Iron Lady" #cpc14

     
  47.  
    11:41: Miliband

    Michael Gove takes a swipe at Labour's record in office. He says the only way to secure Britain's future is with a Conservative government led by David Cameron. Ed Miliband cannot provide leadership as he's never offered anything other than a "warm bath of cliche", Mr Gove tells the hall. He comments that Mr Miliband's stance on UK air strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria was "as reassuring as a Kleenex parachute".

     
  48.  
    11:40: Gove warms up crowd
    Michael Gove
     
  49.  
    @Tinglepolitics 11:39: Len Tingle, BBC

    tweets: Outside #Conservative conference. No doubting what this bloke wants-he mentions 1940 and the Germans a lot #CPC14. See photo

     
  50.  
    11:38: Social justice

    Michael Gove says society is fairer, with the gap between rich and poor "closing". He brands the Conservatives as the party of social justice and progress - as "only we know" the importance of a secure economy and a strong leader. Labour is unfit to govern, he adds.

     
  51.  
    11:36: Praise

    Michael Gove praises David Cameron and George Osborne's "guts" for sticking to their long-term economic plan. Britain is on the rise again and we must not let Labour pull us back down, he tells activists.

     
  52.  
    @nigelfletcher 11:35: Nigel Fletcher, ex-Conservative adviser

    tweets: Didn't even try to get into the hall for the PM's speech- watching instead in the #LondonLounge, my conference home from home. #CPC14

     
  53.  
    11:34: What we've done

    Michael Gove is listing the government's achievement, including on the economy, housing and pensions.

     
  54.  
    11:34: Tax pledge? Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    BBC political editor Nick Robinson describes the Conservative guarantee to ring-fence NHS spending as a "statement of the blindingly politically obvious", and says he suspects the rumoured big policy announcement by David Cameron will be related to tax: either raising the personal allowance on income tax up to a level ensuring no-one on the minimum wage pays income tax, or reforming National Insurance in a similar fashion.

     
  55.  
    11:33: Gove love

    David Cameron's warm-up act is Michael Gove - former education secretary, now Conservative chief whip. He's a huge hit with activists - who stand, whoop and wave their papers as he enters the hall.

     
  56.  
    Tweet: @BBCPolitics 11:32: Get involved

    @ultramodtro tweets: Just watchin' the @daily_politics while I finish my tea, before going into the spillover hall to watch the PM. #CFC14. See photo

     
  57.  
    11:32: Let the music play

    The hall is full and the press pack is huddled along the front of the stage. The Electric Light Orchestra's Mr Blue Sky plays through the speakers.

     
  58.  
    11:31: Cheers

    A standing ovation for Philip Hammond, as the hall readies itself for David Cameron. First up, though, is Conservative Chief Whip Michael Gove.

    Audience
     
  59.  
    11:30: Hammond concludes

    Britain cannot afford five more minutes, let alone five years, of Labour, Philip Hammond asserts. He tells conference only the Conservatives can deliver growth, jobs and an in/out referendum on the EU, as he brings his speech to a close.

    Philip Hammond
     
  60.  
    11:27: EU negotiations

    The foreign secretary says his priority between now and the general election in May is to lay the groundwork for EU reform negotiations, so that the Conservatives will "already be in pole position" if they win power.

     
  61.  
    11:26: Lib Dems attacked

    Philip Hammond quotes Margaret Thatcher now - which goes down well in the hall. He says slowly but surely other EU states are "coming round" to the need for change. Mr Hammond attacks Labour for "surrendering" sovereignty and taxpayers' money to EU - and counters that the Conservatives have started to "reverse that trend" - noting David Cameron's success in securing an EU budget cut. "All that in coalition with the most Brussels-loving bunch of Europhiles you could ever wish to meet," Mr Hammond says, and adds: "Just think what a proper Conservative government could do."

     
  62.  
    11:24: Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Treasury minister Priti Patel MP tells Andrew Neil she "will not speculate on other departments' budgets and cuts" at this stage, in a discussion about ring-fencing the NHS budget under a future Conservative government.

     
  63.  
    11:23: EU concerns

    Philip Hammond says foreign policy must support the government's long-term economic plan. He tells conference that worldwide exports are up 28% since 2009. Turning to the EU, the foreign secretary says he has been "aghast" as the common market has "morphed into an institution with the aspirations of a superstate" and "hoovers up" powers that belong to member states. It's not what the British people signed up to, he says.

     
  64.  
    11:20: Ukraine

    Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says the UK has extended its hand to Russia over recent decades but President Putin has "torn up the rule book and chosen the path to confrontation" through his "illegal behaviour" in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

     
  65.  
    11:18: Assad

    Philip Hammond rejects suggestions that a deal should be done with Syrian President Assad to defeat IS: "Assad is the problem and he cannot be part of the solution," he says, to applause.

     
  66.  
    11:18: Iraq action

    Philip Hammond talks about the "twisted ideology" of Islamic State and says the organisation is the "antithesis of everything we stand for". Britain must defeat it, he tells conference. As a defence leader in the world, it is right that Britain is taking part in international military action against IS militants in Iraq, Mr Hammond adds, and says it should be "proud".

     
  67.  
    @afneil 11:17: Andrew Neil, BBC

    tweets: We are on BBC2 now with two hour special from Tory party conference. Including Cameron speech #bbcdp

     
  68.  
    11:15: Hague quip

    Philip Hammond says William Hague is a very hard act to follow as foreign secretary - but quips that he has one thing that Mr Hague doesn't, and brushes a hand through his hair.

     
  69.  
    11:14: Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, is addressing the conference
    Philip Hammond addressing the conference
     
  70.  
    11:13: Hammond time

    Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond now has the stage - and begins by paying tribute to his ministerial team, and his predecessor William Hague - "who will surely go down as one of the truly great British foreign secretaries". Activists show their appreciation.

     
  71.  
    11:12: Safety promise

    Michael Fallon concludes by assuring conference that "this party, this government" will ensure the armed forces have all they need to help keep Britain safe.

    Michael Fallon
     
  72.  
    11:10: Trident

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  73.  
    11:09: David and Samantha Cameron arrive at the conference centre
    David Cameron arriving with his wife Samantha
     
  74.  
    11:07: Jobs

    The defence secretary says it is because the Conservatives have "sorted out" the budget that the government is able to spend £164bn on defence over the next decade. He reiterates this morning's announcement of a £3,5bn investment in UK naval bases, securing 7,500 jobs.

     
  75.  
    11:03: IS 'barbarity'

    Michael Fallon says the UK now faces "new threats to our security" - as he talks about the "chilling barbarity" of Islamic State militants, which if left unchecked would result in "a terrorist state on Europe's doorstep".

     
  76.  
    11:01: Services tribute

    Michael Fallon pays tribute to the 453 British servicemen and women who died during combat operations in Afghanistan, and all those who were injured. A round of applause ensues.

     
  77.  
    10:59: Defence budget

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  78.  
    10:59: 'Long nights, strange men' Tom Moseley, political reporter

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    The opening lyrics:

    White lips, pale face

    Breathing in snowflakes

    Burnt lungs, sour taste

    Light's gone, day's end

    Struggling to pay rent

    Long nights, strange men

     
  79.  
    10:57: Summit

    Justine Greening welcomes the global Girl Summit - hosted in London over the summer - to end female genital mutilation and forced child marriage, and thanks all those who took part.

     
  80.  
    10:55: Pride

    Britain's response to humanitarian emergencies "sets us apart" from many other countries, Justine Greening says. The international development secretary praises British aid workers and adds that "we should be proud of our country, because we don't walk on by".

     
  81.  
    @tnewtondunn 10:55: Tom Newton Dunn, Political Editor of The Sun

    tweets: David Cameron does indeed have a jumbo rabbit in his #CPC14 speech today. A big new tax move to help C2 voters especially, I hear.

     
  82.  
    10:53: Ebola threat

    Justine Greening describes Ebola as "one of the most serious threats facing the world today", with estimates that 1.4 million people will be infected by January 2015 "if we don't act". She says an international coalition is working to contain and defeat the virus - and adds that the UK is overseeing the construction of treatment centres, and will treble the number of Ebola treatment beds.

    Justine Greening addressing the Conservative conference
     
  83.  
    10:50:

    Justine Greening says international aid - including the government's commitment to spending 0.7% of national income on it - is a vital component alongside the defence and diplomacy.

     
  84.  
    10:48: Greening

    International Development Secretary Justine Greening is introduced to the hall. She opens by saying she is "proud" of what the Conservatives have achieved in government. Ms Greening says her department's international development programme has been improved since 2010, with a much greater focus on jobs and economic growth.

     
  85.  
    10:47: 'We'll deliver'

    London Conservative MEP Syed Kamall is addressing the hall now - and stresses that "only the Conservatives can and will deliver" a referendum on the UK's relationship with the European Union. He criticises the previous Labour government which "gave away" British taxpayers' money and powers to Brussels. Now is the time for the Conservatives to "roll up our sleeves" and make the case for reform, he says - and adds that this must be done by working with Britain's allies across Europe. Mr Kamall leads the European Parliament's European Conservatives and Reformists group.

     
  86.  
    The Times 10:46: Newspaper round-up

    Theresa May, says (£) Ann Treneman, gave "the best speech of her life" yesterday. Her "unflinchingly serious" performance was followed by "clown-man" Boris Johnson, whom the Tory audience adored.

    The paper claims David Cameron will today attempt to move the discussion from being about the party's "long-term economic plan" to talking about "individual benefits offered by a recovering economy". A YouGov poll commissioned for the paper shows 41% of those questioned saying they trust the Conservatives more to clear the deficit, compared to 13% for Labour, but when asked which party is most likely to improve living standards "for people like you" 31% chose Labour against only 25% for the Conservatives.

     
  87.  
    10:44: Ed inspired by Dave

    Here's Ed Sheeran, who apparently dedicated a song, called the A Team (not the A-list), to the PM at a recent gig he attended. His music was not in evidence in the conference hall this morning before speeches got under way. Instead the Starship song Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now was blasted out of on the PA system. The year of its release - 1987 - was when Mrs Thatcher won her third term in office. Some misty eyes in Birmingham?

    Ed Sheeran
     
  88.  
    10:37: Jess Denham, for the Independent

    writes: Ed Sheeran dedicates song to David Cameron. Ed Sheeran has admitted dedicating a song to the prime minister at a private house party this summer. Read more

     
  89.  
    10:33: Out of the blocks

    The conference is officially under way. Steve Bell, vice-president of the National Conservative Convention, is opening proceedings.

     
  90.  
    10:32: Sell off the banks?

    Conservative MP and former Welsh Secretary John Redwood proposes a way to tackle the deficit on his blog: "Total borrowing in the next Parliament could be reduced substantially by selling all the remaining shares in banks. This would be a good idea for a variety of reasons and would be the single biggest way of reducing the loan mountain."

     
  91.  
    10:28: Newspaper round-up The Daily Telegraph

    Peter Oborne, chief political commentator, says (video) that David Cameron must navigate three major points of controversy: projecting himself as a "war leader" after the recent Commons authorisation of action against Islamic State; scrapping the Human Rights Act; and, the "most dangerous" potential pitfall, drawing a line under the recent defections to UKIP.

    Michael Deacon, in his sketch of yesterday's conference activity, describes Boris Johnson as "the politician who reduces the sketch writer's role to mere transcription", but says that despite the theatrics Boris's great strength is that he makes the party "believe they can win, and deserve to win".

     
  92.  
    10:22: Story

    David Cameron appears at 11:15 BST. In the meantime, here's our main story about his speech.

     
  93.  
    10:19: Line-up

    Just over 10 minutes until we get going again. The first of the big-name speakers will be International Development Secretary Justine Greening.

     
  94.  
    @TheGreenParty 10:17: The Green Party

    tweets: #Cameron=austerity forever; #Miliband=austerity-lite. If you're fed up with their policies join us. Please RT #CPC14

    The Green Party slogan
     
  95.  
    10:11: Newspaper round-up The Guardian

    Theresa May's speech is described as "both highly accomplished and highly disturbing", saying that for a Conservative home secretary to open by issuing a "frank challenge" to the police "felt like a kind of cultural revolution". She now proposes, however, a range of powers which "in classic abuse-of-civil liberty mode, could be misused", not least the so-called "snoopers' charter" which was "rightly blocked by the Liberal Democrats two years ago".

    Looking forward to David Cameron's speech today, Denis Campbell, the paper's health correspondent, notes that Labour has been outflanked by the Conservative leader on NHS spending, and says that unless Ed Miliband "outbids the Tories yet again he risks being accused of not matching his fine words about saving the NHS with the cash needed".

     
  96.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 10:08: Get involved

    Adam Rees: Labour keep banging on about the Tories privatising the NHS. I've been hearing it for as long as I remember. It's still free at the point of use. There are some NHS services provided by private companies for sure but who introduced it for the very first time? Labour!

     
  97.  
    @Andrew_ComRes 10:07: Andrew Hawkins, ComRes Chairman

    tweets: ComRes/ITV News poll helps explain Tory struggles - immigration & NHS are 2 of top 3 voter concerns but rate as worst policies

     
  98.  
    @iainmartin1 10:06: Iain Martin, Journalist

    tweets: And so far all the defections to UKIP have been men. Serious diversity problem. May require quotas.

     
  99.  
    10:00: Air strikes

    As Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon prepare to address the conference a little later, the Ministry of Defence has announced that RAF jets fired four missiles at Islamic State (IS) vehicles in Iraq overnight. The MoD says the strikes - aimed at an armed pick-up truck and a transport vehicle west of the Iraqi capital Baghdad - were "successful". Parliament approved UK military action against IS in Iraq last Friday.

     
  100.  
    09:59: Newspaper round-up The Daily Mail

    Quentin Letts, at the Daily Mail, sketches yesterday's "duel of two would-be leaders". Theresa May, "fervid and Thatcherish", gave the "speech that deserves to be remembered". The home secretary attacked Islamist extremism from a "defiantly centrist position", quoting the Koran and opening with a condemnation of racial bias in the exercise of police stop-and-search powers, perhaps seeing that "there are votes in centrism", he adds. Boris Johnson, meanwhile, was "full of jokes", entertaining the Tory faithful but "the closing passages of the speech - the serious bits - sagged".

     

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