Angela Merkel: EU reform not 'piece of cake'

 

The German chancellor tells British MPs there were "very special expectations of my speech here today"

Related Stories

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she can work with the UK to reform the European Union but it will not be "a piece of cake".

Following a Downing Street meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron, she said both countries could bring in laws to restrict benefit tourism, as part of "overall European cooperation".

Mr Cameron said changes to the EU were "possible, achievable and doable".

Mrs Merkel addressed Parliament earlier - and later had tea with the Queen.

She also had a meeting with Mr Cameron in Downing Street, with a picture being released of the two of them chatting on the sofa in the Camerons' flat.

Angela Merkel and David Cameron

Mr Cameron is keen to negotiate changes to the UK's treaties with the EU ahead of a promised referendum on whether the country should remain in the organisation, which he wants to hold before the end of 2017.

Start Quote

She may well agree to concessions to Britain - but not immediately”

End Quote

He regards Mrs Merkel as a key figure in achieving his aim and has organised several events to welcome the German leader during her one-day visit to London, including tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

At the Downing Street press conference, Mr Cameron said he and Mrs Merkel "both want to see changes in Europe".

He added that EU rules on freedom of movement needed to change to ensure people could not move from country to country to sign up for welfare payments.

Angela Merkel in the royal gallery Angela Merkel addressed both Houses of Parliament during her one-day visit

Mrs Merkel said the UK and Germany could pass laws to limit this problem, saying: "Where there's a will, there's a way."

She said freedom of movement was intended to allow people to work in different countries, not "having immigration into social systems".

However, speaking of changing the EU, she said: "It is not a piece of cake. It is going to be hard work."

Earlier, Mrs Merkel addressed both Houses of Parliament.

General Charles de Gaulle and his wife Yvonne

Leaders previously accorded the honour include French Presidents Charles de Gaulle, pictured above, Valery Giscard d'Estaing and Francois Mitterrand, US presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the Dalai Lama, Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi and former Russian president Boris Yeltsin - click here for a full list.

Mrs Merkel told assembled political and business leaders: "Some expect my speech to pave the way for a fundamental reform of the European architecture which will satisfy all kinds of alleged or actual British wishes. I am afraid they are in for a disappointment.

"Others are expecting the exact opposite and they are hoping that I will deliver the clear and simple message here in London that the rest of Europe is not prepared to pay almost any price to keep Britain in the European Union. I am afraid these hopes will be dashed."'

Mrs Merkel hailed the peace and stability she said the European Union had brought, saying war between EU member states was now "inconceivable".

David Cameron with Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg Mrs Merkel's speech was well received by the UK parliamentarians

She praised the "unparalleled success" of the EU free market - and the freedoms she said European integration had delivered - but stressed that "we need to change the political shape of the EU in keeping with the times".

She told the UK's gathered political leaders the SU had to become stronger, saying: "In order to attain this goal we need a strong United Kingdom with a strong voice inside the European Union.

"If we have that, we will be able to make the necessary changes for the benefit of all."

The Guardian reported on Wednesday that Berlin was prepared to offer "limited opt-outs" to the UK over its future compliance with existing EU directives and to make sure some other regulations were more flexibly enforced.

The Queen, right, welcomes Angela Merkel to Buckingham Palace The Queen met Angela Merkel at Buckingham Palace after leaving Downing Street

The newspaper said it was a sign of the lengths that Germany was willing to go to to ensure the UK remained a member of the EU amid fears in Europe that a referendum could lead to British withdrawal.

But BBC Berlin Correspondent Stephen Evans said sources close to Mrs Merkel were playing down expectations of new proposals for the kind of changes British Conservatives wanted to see.

Although not an official state visit - Mrs Merkel is not head of state - the trip has been planned for months, with both governments aware of its political significance at a time of looming change in Europe.

Mr Cameron has said that if the Conservatives win the 2015 election, he will seek to renegotiate the terms of the UK's membership of the European Union and put the outcome to an in-out referendum of the British people in 2017.

But he faces a battle to convince leaders of other EU member states to agree to the treaty changes he will need, with French President Francois Hollande recently telling the prime minister, on a one-day visit to the UK, that it was "not a priority".

The leader of Mr Cameron's junior coalition partners, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, and opposition leader Ed Miliband, who both oppose calls for a referendum and who have warned that Conservative calls for a root-and-branch renegotiation will alienate EU leaders, also held separate meetings with Mrs Merkel.

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 531.

    Dave talks and promises .........Angela well you just have to look at her results to see that she is light years ahead of British thinking .

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 530.

    I am in favour of our country being allowed to make its own rules and regulations something you cannot do in the EU.Why do we have a government good bad or indifferent if we are ruled by the EU?How can you compare any countries monetary value with that or another?i was in Germany from 1963 until 1966 and where I lived a lot of produce came from Holland.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 529.

    I deal with Germany a fair bit. They are always (favourably) staggered when I speak German to them. Their surprise is a symptom of how far behind the game we are when it comes to international trade.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 528.

    "Isn't our royal Family German?"
    --------

    Due to anti-German sentiment during World War I they changed their name to Windsor. Queen Victoria's husband was German.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 527.

    Lots of politicians from various countries having a say on it. Unfortunately the people that matter (the British public) don't get a say at all.

    Instead they have a cartel of political parties acting in opposition to public opinion and denying us a vote.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 526.

    Unless the members of the EU take control of its institutions and rein it in, it will inevitably acquire ever greater power and impose itself in areas that we could better regulate ourselves. The Commission isn't spontaneously going to decide that it wants less power. Nothing Merkel says assures me that we are not heading for a Superstate in which the UK will be a powerless and downtrodden minion.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 525.

    I do think that the Treaty of Rome was planned to make the EU the servant of it's members. Not to make the members the servants. Resistance to change has increased, as the membership has increased. The changes that Europe needs to make will only get harder, as more countries join and the system gets more and more set in it's ways. All our friends in Europe need to support these updates.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 524.

    511.florere

    I agree about units of measure and currency, the old imperial system does my head in. But the metric system is logical and easy to use for someone with mathematical difficulties. A system devised by the French, during the French Revolution has taken a while to be adopted globally.

    I'm all for metric myself and I cannot imagine using Imperial in a CAD environment.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 523.

    Winston Churchill - European Union yes, but not a part of it.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 522.

    you have got to give it to the germans unions and management working as one not like in this country . now that's what I call were all in it together

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 521.

    Here's what the CBI, representing Britain's biggest employers, think about Britain remaining in the EU. Remember that large numbers of small businesses are suppliers to these companies and that the employees of all these companies spend their money in most of the remainder (eg local shops). I think they can speak with more authority than some random bloggers on HYS on why we need to remain in.

  • Comment number 520.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 519.

    There seems to me a big parallel here in so far that the EU wants us IN as is also the case that we do appear to want Scotland to be IN the UK.
    I do not beleieve that there is an easy answer but going back to basics with the issues in Ukrain was it not the case some years ago that the argument for the EU went on to say that it was a buffer between East and West.?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 518.

    I hoped that Mrs. Merkel would at least have mentioned to our politicians that State Terrorism is outlawed under International Law:

    http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/benefit-sanctions-are-state-terrorism-and-must-be-stopped-without-exceptions/

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 517.

    Germany is pro EU because they run it! And what really grinds my gears is the stealthy way in which this EU superstate conspiracy has played out for the last 50 years, ie. under the guise of "economic benefit" for each sovereignty-stealing treaty. The fact that people have been deceived for 50 years about the long term objectives of the EU tells you everything you need to know about it.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 516.

    459.MightyScotsPine
    Why try and tell a sovereign state that they can't have whole life tariiffs.
    ---
    Sigh. This ill-informed ignorant nonsense again.
    The EU have never tried to tell us anything of the sort. It was the ECHR.
    Whilst being a member of the ECHR is a condition of EU membership, we joined the ECHR long before the EU existed, so the EU is NOT the reason we are in the ECHR.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 515.

    #496 Abdi

    The assessment of what is rational is invariably subjective i.e. it depends on your priorities and values. So, if you value economic security far more than you value the democratic process and freedom from bureaucratic control then to stay in the EU is indeed rational. However, for those of us priorities who have differing priorities membership is not necessarily rational at all.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 514.

    487. Alaric the Visigoth

    So Steve Thoburn just dreamt that he was being prosecuted by Sunderland Council for selling an imperial pound of bananas in contravention of EU approved measures?

    The EU tried to impose metric weights and measures on the UK and lost. I'm not interested in buying a litre of beer in Holland, I want a pint of beer in the UK.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 513.

    504. Essexbelle
    The very idea of a German addressing Parliament sends shivers down my spine.
    ----
    Leave your bigotry at the door please. Every German i have met has been warm, caring, educated, bi-lingual and a pleasure to spend time with.

    This speech was aimed at her home crowd in Germany, the south is seeing mass immigration and the beginnings of heavy anti-EU sentiment.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 512.

    To me the question is are we 'in' or 'out'. For the EU they also need to know, because this Bull from the Tories are leaving people guessing. We need a referendum before the next election because this coalition will not give a referendum if it gets back in power, as we all know that. We need the question answered before the EU loses its tolreance and decides that the UK is out, and on its own.

 

Page 32 of 58

 

More UK Politics stories

RSS

Politics Live

  1.  
    11:35: Greens gunning for Bristol West BBC News Channel
    Molly Scott Cato

    Green MEP Molly Scott Cato has just been setting the Greens' electoral ambitions. She told the BBC's Eleanor Garnier electoral success would mean holding former leader Caroline Lucas's Brighton Pavillion seat and gaining Bristol West

    She said the now notorious Natalie Bennett LBC interview was just a case of the leader having an "off day", which no one outside Westminster is talking about. And she suggested the media now moves on.

     
  2.  
    11:27: Games fail

    Another politician has been caught playing on their tablet during a meeting. Lib Dem councillor Martin Elengorn was snapped by a Tory rival playing a sneaky game of Scrabble during a town hall meeting in Richmond, South London, reports the Evening Standard. The incident has put him off the game for life, apparently.

     
  3.  
    11:20: Labour 'at war' over resources The Scotsman

    According to today's Scotsman, there is a row in Scottish Labour over where to concentrate resources ahead of the election. The paper says several MPs have "demanded" the party gives up on trying to save the west of Scotland, with one even saying they should abandon Glasgow - previously a hot bed of Labour support, but which voted in favour of independence at the referendum. This comes after a poll suggested Labour could lose most of its seat north of the border. More here.

     
  4.  
    11:11: Sing-a-long-a-UKIP You Tube

    For those looking for something to make their Friday lunchtime go with a swing, here's UKIP candidate for Stockton Mandy Boylett singing her cover version of Abba's Chiquitita, with rewritten lyrics tackling the government's record on immigration and criticising her electoral opponent, Labour MP Alex Cunningham.

    All together now...

     
  5.  
    @TheGreenParty The Green Party

    tweets: .@TheGreenParty welcomes over 1,300 attendees to @ACCLiverpool for the Party's largest ever Conference. #gpconf

    AND

    tweets: .@TheGreenParty membership stands at almost 56,000 #gpconf #GreenSurge

     
  6.  
    11:02: Immigration-led cuts in services The Daily Telegraph

    More on immigration, with the Telegraph reporting that population increases fuelled by immigration have helped to contribute to cuts of almost 50 per cent cut in council services in parts of the country.

    The paper cites IFS analysis that shows councils which had big influxes of immigrants were among those hit the hardest by cuts to local authority budgets.

     
  7.  
    @LBC LBC

    tweets: Nigel Farage's response to the woman who called him the Messiah is hilarious!

     
  8.  
    10:46: Lab/SNP pact would 'save' union

    Amid all the calls for Ed Miliband to rule out a coalition with the SNP, an alternative take on politics.co.uk. The piece argues that ignoring SNP electoral success would push Westminster further from Scotland, whereas Ed Miliband and Sturgeon arm-in-arm would send a powerful "better together" message.

     
  9.  
    @Plaid_Cymru Plaid Cymru

    tweets: "The vision I've got for Wales is one where no individual is left behind & more autonomy is how we can achieve that" Leanne tells students

     
  10.  
    10:29: SNP 'hurts Labour'
    Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy MP and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon MSP

    More comment on a possible Labour/SNP coalition from Phil Collins in today's Times (subscription required).

    He writes: "Give or take a few Lib Dem seats, the rise and fall of the SNP and Labour is a zero-sum game. The SNP hurts Labour and benefits the Conservatives. This is a split in the left that will surpass the damage that UKIP can do to the Conservatives south of the border."

    He calls for Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy to, therefore, rule out a coalition with the SNP.

     
  11.  
    10:23: Labour to set out pensioner offer
    Labour leader Ed Miliband MP

    Ed Miliband is to set out his party's offer to pensioners at a campaign event in Yorkshire later today.

    The Labour leader will pledge to maintain the 'triple lock' on the state pension and guarantee free bus passes and free TV licences to all those currently eligible. But he will say he will take away winter fuel payments from the richest five per cent of pensioners.

    More here.

     
  12.  
    10:17: Challenge for Bennett The Daily Telegraph
    Green party leader Natalie Bennett

    Today's Telegraph may make reassuring reading for Green party leader Natalie Bennett, ahead of her party conference speech this afternoon.

    Although the paper reports some knives out for Ms Bennett among the membership, following her performance during 'that' LBC interview, the piece says the numbers dissatisfied are not enough for any move against her as leader. A petition of ten per cent of the membership is required to trigger a leadership election.

    We will be covering Natalie Bennett's speech here around 14:00 GMT.

     
  13.  
    10:08: Plaid conference
    Leanne Wood

    Plaid Cymru is holding its conference in Caernarfon today. In her speech - expected early this afternoon - party leader Leanne Wood will urge the "Westminster parties" to promise Wales an extra £1.2bn a year. You can follow the proceedings here.

     
  14.  
    10:01: 'Serious concerns' over parking plans
    Car park

    The Local Government Association has been responding to the government's announcement that drivers will get 10 minutes' grace before being fined if they stay too long in council-owned car parks in England. Cllr David Sparks, the body's chair, says many councils already allow grace periods.

    He adds: "We are concerned that government has rushed through today's announcement and failed to fully consult councils on the detail of the regulation. Beyond the headlines, what is particularly worrying is the detail of these proposals which could make roads less safe for vulnerable pedestrians and inconvenience millions of motorists and commuters.

    "We have serious concerns about the decision to ban the use of CCTV on zebra crossings and bus routes. This decision could endanger vulnerable road users such as children, blind or disabled people and create delays for millions of bus users."

     
  15.  
    09:55: Farage on 'negative campaign'

    A bit more from Nigel Farage on the tone of the election campaign.

    The UKIP leader has ruled out making personal attacks on his opponents for the duration of the campaign and blamed the influence of American advisers for what he predicted would be the most negative contest ever.

    Mr Farage laid blame for the tone on "Washington spin doctors" - the Conservatives' Jim Messina and Labour's David Axelrod.

    "What I'm seeing in this election is the influence of these big American advisers and it's becoming the most negative, personal and nasty campaign I've ever seen," he said.

    The UKIP leader hit out at criticism of his Labour counterpart, telling LBC radio: "I don't agree with what most of Ed Miliband stands for but he's a perfectly decent human being.

    "For him to be attacked personally day after day after day - how is that taking us forward? I'm going to do my best over the next 60-odd days to rise above it."

     
  16.  
    @rosschawkins Ross Hawkins, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Green conference doc: policy to ban almost all cars "would probably prove unattractive to the electorate"

     
  17.  
    09:49: Immigration figures Chris Mason Political correspondent, BBC News

    There is recognition at Westminster - across the political divide - that immigration really matters to millions of people, our correspondent says. You only have to flick through the literature the party have been churning out to really get a sense of how important immigration is, he adds.

     
  18.  
    09:47: Farage on 2010 manifesto

    "We had a massive PR problem with our 2010 manifesto", Nigel Farage admits on LBC. "A 12 page document that was put to me and signed off was fine. Behind it were 486 pages of detailed notes then deemed to be the manifesto." He says much of the content was "intellectual wonderings" and accuses other of playing "academic games".

     
  19.  
    09:39: Labour-led coalition with SNP a "nightmare scenario" The Daily Telegraph

    Max Hastings sets out his views on the prospect of a Labour-led coalition with the SNP in today's Mail.

    He doesn't spare the hyperbole: "If this sounds a nightmare scenario for the English people, and indeed for everybody with a head on their shoulders throughout the UK, it is the way events could turn out if the polls are right."

    He concludes: "The grim prospect for English taxpayers is that Miliband himself, and many of his supporters, would be more than happy to support the SNP's almost Stalinist agenda for raising borrowing and soaking the rich, purely to sustain their Labour and Scottish client votes."

     
  20.  
    09:29: Hammond in Warsaw
    Hammond

    Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is in Warsaw for talks with his Polish counterpart Grzegorz Schetyna

     
  21.  
    09:25: Farage 'a very naughty boy'

    Nigel Farage is having a fun over on LBC.

    When one caller said she felt Mr Farage had been sent from on high to protect us, presenter Nick Ferrari asked Mr Farage if he had, in fact, been sent by God. The UKIP leader modestly responded: "I am not the Messiah, I'm a very naughty boy" - a reference, of course, to the famous Monty Python sketch,

     
  22.  
    @JamesTapsfield James Tapsfield, Press Association reporter

    tweets: Ukip immig policy premised on leaving EU - but wd take two years+ of negs after "out" referendum vote. Unclear what wd happen in interim

     
  23.  
    09:20: UK 'no longer a 'serious player'
    Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage is voicing strong support for increasing the UK defence budget on his LIBC show.

    He says it is "absolutely astonishing" that a Conservative-led government has upped the foreign aid budget but cut the defence budget.

    He added: "Internationally we are no longer being referred to as a serious player."

     
  24.  
    09:16: Farage 'turning the other cheek'

    Nigel Farage comes out fighting against Nick Clegg over on LBC.

    Responding to the Lib Dem leader saying Mr Farage was "having a nice time of it", the UKIP leader said he didn't want to trade insults, adding: "I'm trying to turn the other cheek."

    But he went on: "when it comes to inconsistency on policy the Lib Dems are absolutely at the top of the tree."

    Mr Farage said this election campaign was becoming one of the nastiest he had ever seen but he would do his best to rise above it.

     
  25.  
    09:09: Farage: Cameron afraid to debate immigration

    Nigel Farage is talking immigration with Nick Ferrari on LBC.

    He asks: "I'm reading Tory literature talking about controlling immigration - but how can you control immigration if you have an open door policy?"

    The UKIP leader went on to say this is the issue Mr Cameron is afraid to debate.

     
  26.  
    @Nigel_Farage Nigel Farage, UKIP leader

    tweets: #PhoneFarage: Mr Cameron doesn't want to face the questions about how he's doubled the national debt in just 5 years

    Nigel Farage
     
  27.  
    09:00: Jim Murphy on polls
    Jim Murphy

    Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy has been speaking to BBC Scotland about his party's polling performance, which suggests they could lose almost all of their seats north of the border. He told Good Morning Scotland: "There's still a long way to go. In voting for an SNP MP, people will get a Tory government." More on his interview on our Scotland Live page.

     
  28.  
    08:58: Preventing extremism BBC Radio 4 Today

    Has the government's Prevent scheme - a key element of its counter-terrorism strategy- failed? Frank Gardner, our security correspondent, says it has worked in some cases, where people have been steered away from extremism at the last minute. But in other cases it has been counter-productive. The scheme has a problem of perception - it is seen by many Muslims as unfairly focussing on their communities, he adds.

    Our correspondent spoke to experts about the scheme. We'll post a link later.

     
  29.  
    08:53: Putin's 'undeclared war' on Ukraine BBC Radio 4 Today
    José Manuel Barroso

    José Manuel Barroso says Europe must not accept Russia seeking to redraw the borders of Europe.

    He told Today: "Putin is saying he respects the sovereignty of Ukraine. But at the same time we know this is the biggest Russian operation since the Second World War in military terms. It's a kind of undeclared war."

    The former President of the European Commission went on to say that he expects the situation to get worse before it gets better.

     
  30.  
    08:47: 'Parliamentary no-man's land' The Daily Telegraph

    Fraser Nelson says the Tories need to be more ambitious if they are to win an overall majority.

    Writing in today's Telegraph, he says: "On its own, 'long-term economic plan' just won't be enough. It will lead not to victory, but to a parliamentary no-man's land."

     
  31.  
    08:44: Sturgeon on Trident The Guardian

    Is Trident a red line for the SNP? In another video posted by the Guardian, Nicola Sturgeon suggests her party could still back a Labour government if it backs renewal of the weapons. But the SNP leader rules out her party voting for it.

     
  32.  
    08:36: Davey: Tories 'crazy' for fracking The Daily Telegraph
    Ed Davey MP

    The Telegraph is reporting Ed Davey's criticism of the faith some Conservatives have in fracking.

    The Lib Dem Energy Secretary said parts of the Conservative Party are "crazy" because they want to "frack every bit of croquet lawn" in Britain.

     
  33.  
    @DPJHodges Dan Hodges, political commentator

    tweets: Someone needs to explain to me how telling Scottish voters "vote SNP and we disenfranchise you" helps make the case for the Union.

     
  34.  
    08:29: Sturgeon on domestic chores
    Strugeon

    Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister, has been a vocal advocate of women's rights since taking over from Alex Salmond. It might come as a surprise to some, therefore, that she still irons her husband's shirts. She made the revelation in a video interview with the Guardian. Her husband is SNP chief executive Peter Murrell.

    As part of a series of videos, the SNP leader also said she couldn't rule out another independence referendum.

     
  35.  
    08:23: Green conference Eleanor Garnier Political correspondent

    Our correspondent says the Green Party has seen a huge surge in membership over the last year and even had to change venue to fit in all the activists it expects to turn up.

    But leader Natalie Bennett is under some pressure after a poor interview performance last month and our reporter says Ms Bennett "really does need to bounce back."

    There is unprecedented opportunity at this conference, but also unprecedented scrutiny, she concludes.

     
  36.  
    08:19: UKIP 'will reduce immigration' BBC Radio 4 Today
    Mark Reckless MP

    UKIP MP Mark Reckless is on Today defending the party's immigration policy. Asked why the party don't have a target for immigration, Mr Reckless said: "What we are going to do is control the quarter of a million people who come from the EU last year."

    He went on to set out policies including tighter border controls and a points-based system and said: "What that will do will hugely reduce that number of people coming to this country."

     
  37.  
    @FrankRGardner Frank Gardner

    tweets: We'll be discussing the UK Govt's controversial 'Prevent' strategy to counter extremism at 0830 on @BBCr4today

     
  38.  
    08:08: UK 'needs own Abraham Lincoln' The Guardian

    Over on the Guardian, Martin Kettle argues the UK needs its own Abraham Lincoln. If Britain proves to be "a house divided against itself" in coming years, especially with the rise of nationalism, "it will also require someone to fill Lincoln-sized shoes if the house is to continue to stand, both within these islands and in the union with Europe", he says. But he's not confident David Cameron or Ed Miliband have shown they can match the former US president's oratory skills. You can read his piece here.

     
  39.  
    08:04: Chuka: Selfies 'keep it real'
    Chuka Umunna MP

    In an interview with House magazine, Chuka Umunna has praised the selfie. He said: "The thing about selfies is so often you do these posed, formal shots whereas when you are doing a group shot like that, it's a little bit more relaxed, you keep it real. Certainly with young people, it just relaxes the whole thing. And that is what my constituents say: keep it real."

    The Shadow Business Secretary also told House that he finds it awkward being praised for his looks: "I feel a little bit awkward, if I'm honest about it". He added: "It amuses my family, my friends take the piss out of me royally about it."

     
  40.  
    07:53: Bennett interview 'a serious failure' Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News
    Natalie Bennett

    The stumbling performance by Green leader Natalie Bennett in a radio interview last month was a "serious failure" that showed she had failed to prepare and left her colleagues "taken aback", according to the Green leader on Liverpool City Council John Coyne.

    He told the BBC it wouldn't happen again as Ms Bennett would in future rehearse her performance in mock interviews.

    Mr Coyne said: "It's a failure that she was underprepared we know why that happened and we know it will be fixed for the future."

    The criticism comes as Greens meet in Liverpool for their spring conference, gathering in the Liverpool Riverside constituency - which they are targeting at the general election - and where Mr Coyne is a sitting councillor.

    Mr Coyne is chair of the Green Councillors Association and was the first Green on Liverpool council after defecting from the Liberal Democrats.

    He said: "It was a serious failure and we thought it might be damaging to us but one thing that perhaps is saving us from that is people who are attracted to the Green Party tend to have a more generous disposition anyway."

    Asked about the reaction of Greens to a performance he described as "excruciating" he said: "We were taken aback but again in the Green Party we are compassionate and it certainly helped to indicate that we have someone who's a human being."

    Bennett apologised to members after the interview.

     
  41.  
    07:47: Globalisation driving immigration

    Home Affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani digests today's immigration story on his blog. He writes: "The old way of thinking about immigration and how it affects the UK needs to be tossed into the dustbin."

    He adds: "Today's migrants - particularly those from Eastern Europe - may be found in all manner of locations because of the effects of globalisation and the single market."

    Research from Oxford University shows immigration has increased the population of England by half a million in the past three years.

     
  42.  
    @rosschawkins Ross Hawkins, BBC correspondent

    tweets: Green leader Natalie Bennett will do mock interviews in future to prepare, Liverpool councillor tells me before Liverpool conference

     
  43.  
    07:41: John Major on SNP The Daily Telegraph
    John Major

    Sir John Major has also been giving his views on the rise of the SNP in Scotland. The former Tory prime minister, writing in this morning's Telegraph, says Ed Miliband should rule out a coalition with the nationalists. He says "the SNP would enter into any agreement with Labour with one overriding aim: to break up the United Kingdom". You can read the Telegraph's news story here and Sir John's piece here.

     
  44.  
    @Number10gov UK Prime Minister

    tweets: PM: To everyone in the UK, India and around the world celebrating the festival of colour and arrival of spring, I wish you a happy #Holi!

     
  45.  
    07:30: John Humphrys in Watford BBC Radio 4 Today

    In the latest of Today's 100 seats in 100 days series, John Humphrys has visited Watford to explore what effect marketing has on voter choices. You can listen to his package here.

     
  46.  
    07:23: Plaid to demand equal funding for Wales and Scotland
    Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM

    Plaid Cymru say they will demand equal funding for Wales and Scotland in any post-election Westminster coalition talks.

    At the party's spring conference in Caernarfon, party leader Leanne Wood will urge the "Westminster parties" to promise Wales an extra £1.2bn a year.

    More on this.

     
  47.  
    07:16: Labour's video mocking PM on debates You Tube

    Paul Waugh from Politics Home has tweeted a video from Labour contrasting David Cameron's positive and negative stances to TV debates.

     
  48.  
    07:06: PM's debates decision shows 'aristocratic contempt' The Guardian
    David Cameron MP

    John Harris takes up Nick Clegg MP's "Downton Abbey" characterisation of David Cameron's decision on the debates in his column in today's Guardian.

    Harris writes of the PM: "Once he styled himself as a leader who was open and up for a challenge; now he looks more than ever like a cold power politician with a tinge of aristocratic contempt for rules and rituals that need only apply to others."

    Clegg told LBC radio yesterday: "I can't get over the lofty pomposity of the Conservatives. It's as if they think they are ordering a drink in the drawing room of Downton Abbey, telling everybody else what they should do."

     
  49.  
    07:00: SNP influence 'desirable' BBC Radio 4 Today

    Ewan Crawford, a former SNP special adviser, says the trouble for Labour is they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Conservatives during the referendum. At the time, they said there would be no threat to public services and promised "strength and security", Mr Crawford argues, but now they say the Tories would be a disaster. Mr Crawford says the SNP would push Labour to do what Labour actually wants to do. And SNP influence on a Labour government is "desirable", he adds.

     
  50.  
    06:56: Labour MP on Scotland polls BBC Radio 4 Today

    Ian Murray, a Labour MP in Edinburgh, is speaking about the latest polls, which indicate a disastrous result for his party in Scotland could be coming. He admits if his party loses Scotland, Ed Miliband won't be prime minister. He says Labour doesn't want or need a coalition with the nationalists.

     
  51.  
    06:51: Parking leeway introduced

    The government has announced drivers will be given 10 minutes' grace before being fined if they stay too long in council-owned car parks in England. Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, says he wants to end the "war on drivers". The leeway is set to take effect later this month. And it will apply to free and paid-for parking spaces both on streets and in off-street car parks. More here.

     
  52.  
    06:46: Greens 'bigger than UKIP'

    As the Green party heads to Liverpool for their conference today, it's worth remembering that they are believed to have more members than UKIP. In January BBC Online reported the party had 43,829 members compared with UKIP's 41,966. We'll be covering the Green party conference throughout the day.

     
  53.  
    06:41: The papers
    Daily Mail and i front pages on 06/03/15

    This morning's national newspapers feature a number of political stories. Alex Kleiderman has the newspaper review here.

     
  54.  
    06:34: 'UK must support Hong Kong'
    Hong Kong

    The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has urged the government to speak up in support of democracy in Hong Kong or risk damage to the UK's reputation there. The MPs said they were "profoundly disappointed" at ministers' response when China blocked committee members from visiting the former UK colony. Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire said the UK wanted democratic "transition". More here.

     
  55.  
    06:28: Greens moot alliance with SNP
    Caroline Lucas

    The Greens are expected to call for a "progressive alliance" with the SNP at their party conference in Liverpool later today.

    Green Party MP and former leader Caroline Lucas will say: "With the rise of the SNP, and with our own Green surge, we have the chance to forge a new grouping in Parliament. A progressive alliance.

    "Of course, in Scotland and in Wales we'll be fighting hard for our distinctive values and policies. Just as we do against those individual Labour and even Lib Dem candidates with whom we have something in common." More here.

     
  56.  
    06:18: 'England's population up'

    A major analysis by the University of Oxford estimates that the population of England has risen by 565,000 since 2011 because of immigration. The Migration Observatory unit says it came up with the projections because similar official data will not be available before the general election. Two-thirds of the rise is attributed to people from the European Union. We'll bring you all the reaction.

     
  57.  
    06:13: Good morning from Westminster

    Hello and welcome to Friday's political coverage. Nick Eardley and Sarah Weaver will bring you all the action, reaction and analysis in text and you'll be able to watch and listen to all the main BBC political programmes, from Today and Breakfast through to Newsnight and Today in Parliament. Don't forget you can get in touch by emailing politics@bbc.co.uk or via social media @bbcpolitics. Here's how Thursday unfolded.

     

Features

  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world


  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage


  • Target practice for Lithuanian troopsBaltic shiver

    Europe editor Katya Adler on the alarm at Russian muscle-flexing


  • Ruben ReuterRuben returns Watch

    Child TV star with Down's syndrome on life away from home


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show

Programmes

  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach – why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.