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Yvette Cooper: UK needs free childcare for all

Labour leadership candidate Yvette Cooper wants to adopt Scandinavian-style system of universal childcare, with 30 hours of free care for all preschool children over the age of two.

Writing in The Independent, Ms Cooper said she wanted to see new tax credits to help parents out in the period after maternity leave finishes, and that the pledge would be a cornerstone of her leadership campaign.

She said: "We should campaign for universal childcare - as other countries, including Scandinavia, have.

"That means breakfast clubs, after-school clubs, holiday clubs and free nursery places and childcare available full-time, not just for three and four-year-olds but two-year-olds too."

Yvette Cooper visits a primary school Credit: Rui Vieira / PA Wire

The EU 'needs to change', Cameron tells Juncker

David Cameron has told the president of the EU that it "needs to change" to meet UK voters' wishes.

The Prime Minister met with Jean-Claude Juncker at Chequers yesterday, in an attempt to build bridges with a man whose election he once described as a "serious mistake".

"The Prime Minister underlined that the British people are not happy with the status quo and believe that the EU needs to change in order to better address their concerns," a Number 10 spokeswoman said.

"Mr Juncker reiterated that he wanted to find a fair deal for the UK and would seek to help. They talked through the issue at some length in the spirit of finding solutions to these problems."

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David Cameron opens talks with EU chief

Prime Minister David Cameron has begun talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker as he begins efforts to renegotiate the UK's relations with the EU.

David Cameron with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker

Greeting Mr Juncker at Chequers, Mr Cameron told him they were meeting in the room reputedly used by Winston Churchill to write some of his most famous wartime speeches.

"Think of 'we'll fight them on the beaches' " he told him before they sat down for a dinner of pork belly, bacon and seasonal vegetables - promising to later show him the ex-premier's brandy glass.

Exchanging pleasantries before getting down to talks, Mr Cameron noted that it was a bank holiday, adding: "My wife has taken the children away on holiday and I am working."

Farage: Labour 'dragged unwillingly' to EU vote U-turn

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has said that the Labour Party has been Labour "dragged unwillingly" to in to a U-turn over an EU referendum.

Farage: Labour 'dragged unwillingly' to EU vote. Credit: Farage: Labour 'dragged unwillingly' to EU vote.

Mr Farage said: "The Labour Party has been dragged, unwillingly, to accept the inevitable that there will be an in/out EU referendum in the next two years. But Harman and Benn's position shows quite how little they have learned from their defeat and how much more they have to learn about the European Union debate in the UK.

. "They grudgingly accept that it is the will of the British people to have a say on their future, but they make it clear that they will campaign for in, whatever the result of Mr Cameron's negotiations."

Harman: EU referendum is a 'huge question' for Britain

Acting Labour leader has outlined her argument explaining why her party would now back an EU in out referendum.

Harman: EU referendum is a 'huge question' for Britain. Credit: PA

Harriet Harman, speaking on the Andrew Marr show, said: "There is a huge question. Is our future as 60 million people outside of Europe on our own, or are we going to be one of those big building blocks."

It is not inconsistent to say that we recognise that our future is better in Europe than outside of Europe but we want to see Europe change, not only for this country, but because all around Europe they have got to address the question of people feeling like Europe is too centralised, insufficiently accountable and insufficiently in touch.

– Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman

"We would be on our own. If we were outside of Europe we would be a small country, outside those big continental building blocks around the globe," Ms Harman added, pointing out that "timing"was key, and the vote must not be at the same time as other important elections.

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Sturgeon: SNP will block scrapping Human Rights Act

MPs for the Scottish National Party (SNP) will join forces with other opposition parties in an effort to block Tory plans to scrap the Human Rights Act, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Nicola Sturgeon has said the SNP will work to keep the Human Rights Act. Credit: Andrew Milligan / PA Wire/PA Images

The First Minister claimed the Conservatives' agenda "lacks legitimacy in Scotland", where David Cameron's party has just a single MP.

The SNP's priority is ending austerity, and the damage it does to people's lives - the Tory government's priority is ending human rights, and the opportunities for fairness they offer ordinary men and women.

For example, it was the Human Rights Act that enabled people to go to court in this country to challenge the grossly unfair bedroom tax.

To scrap the Human Rights Act would be an appallingly retrograde step.

– Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners' Rights, Alex Neil, has already written written to UK Justice Secretary Michael Gove "to reiterate the Scottish Government's opposition to the repeal of the Human Rights Act".

Ms Sturgeon said she also raised the matter directly with the Prime Minister when they met and Holyrood could refuse consent to abolish the Act.

She added: "SNP MPs will work across party lines at Westminster to defeat the Tory government on the Human Rights Act - and the SNP Government will invite the Scottish Parliament to refuse legislative consent to scrap it, given the strong devolved dimension.

"This important issue illustrates how Holyrood working together with SNP MPs and others at Westminster can challenge a Tory agenda that lacks legitimacy in Scotland - and help the cause of progressive politics across the UK."

Cooper wants to put 'families at heart' of Labour party

Yvette Cooper has said the Labour party has to offer hope to families. Credit: Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire/PA Images

Labour leadership hopeful Yvette Cooper has said she will put measures to help families at the heart of her campaign to rebuild Labour after its election defeat.

The shadow home secretary said Labour had to "reach outwards" and "rebuild", winning back voters who deserted the party in favour of the Tories, Ukip and the SNP.

Ms Cooper believes she can smash the "glass ceiling" and become Labour's first permanent female leader, vowing to "shake up the system".

In an interview with The Sun on Sunday (£), mother-of-three Ms Cooper, whose husband and former shadow chancellor Ed Balls lost his Westminster seat in the general election, said Labour had to offer hope to families.

We need to put families at the heart of our politics. As a mum, I feel very strongly about that because my family, my kids are the most important thing in my life.

That has to be reflected in what we do. We have got to reach out and rebuild and that means winning back voters.

We've got to show practical things we can do to help families get on, to know their kids can get an apprenticeship, have a good start in life and go to university.

– Yvette Cooper
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