Cameron signals further cuts

The Conservative Party's annual conference opened in Birmingham today. David Cameron ruled out the 'mansion tax' saying this 'not going to happen.' He also signalled that additional benefit cuts would be necessary to fight the deficit.

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Boris Johnson won't rule out Conservative leader bid

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London
Boris Johnson declined to rule out the possibility of a future bid to become Conservative leader Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Boris Johnson declined to rule out the possibility of a future bid to become Conservative leader and Prime Minister, but insisted he supports David Cameron and said rumours about his ambitions were "a distraction" from his job as Mayor of London.

Challenged to say that Mr Cameron was a better man than him to be PM, Mr Johnson would say only that it was "unverifiable". He said that "for the next few years" he only wanted to be mayor, but added that "heaven knows" what he will do after his four-year term ends in 2016.

Speculation that Mr Johnson has his eye on Mr Cameron's job is dominating the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, after a poll suggested voters prefer the London mayor to Mr Cameron by a wide margin.

The survey by pollsters Opinium for The Observer gave Mr Johnson a net +30 rating compared to -21 for the Prime Minister.

Hague: We need 'less Europe, not more'

Foreign Secretary William Hague said it is time for a "new settlement" between the UK and Europe. Speaking to delegates at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham he said:

"Some people look at the crisis and say more Europe is the only answer; I profoundly disagree. Sometimes less is more, less is better. So we want less bureaucracy, less pointless or damaging interference, less meddling in the issues that belong to national democracies."

Hague: Miliband is no Disreali

William Hague at the Conservative Party Conference today
William Hague at the Conservative Party Conference today Credit: Press Association.

Foreign Secretary William Hague hit out at Labour leader Ed Miliband for using Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli's 'One Nation' mantle during last week's Labour Party Conference. Speaking to delegates at the Conservative Party conference he said:

"Last week he (Mr Miliband) made claim to be Disraeli. We know a little more about Benjamin Disraeli, a great Conservative Prime Minister, than he does.

Disraeli was defined by changing his party for the late 19th Century while Ed Miliband will be defined by refusing to change his Party for the 21st century.

Disraeli believed in fiscal discipline, in self-reliance, in building on historic strengths, in this country paying its way and in taxes being kept down.

To borrow a turn of phrase, we were led by Disraeli, our predecessors knew Disraeli, Disraeli's beliefs were Conservative through and through, and, Ed Miliband, you are no Disraeli."

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Council tax 'freeze' next year

Prime Minister David Cameron announced £270 million of funding for local authorities that agree to freeze council tax next year.

The Government initiative in England is being extended for a third year in a bid to help squeezed families. However, this time town halls will only get the equivalent of a 1% increase from Whitehall in return for holding the levy.

David Davis slams aid pledge

Former shadow home secretary David Davis.
Former shadow home secretary David Davis. Credit: Press Association

Senior Tory David Davis said the Government's pledge to spend 0.7% of national income on international aid each year was "nonsense."

The Conservatives are planning to codify the 0.7% yearly pledge into law, but Mr Davis told a fringe event, hosted by ConservativeHome, that he did not agree with this:

"With one or two exceptions, like spending money on India and maybe China, most people when they think, actually think, about the use of aid broadly approve of it.

When it's saving children from malaria, when it's saving children from dying from malnutrition, when it is rescuing countries that are in dire straights.

What I don't actually agree with the Government's policy on is the 0.7%. I think that is just nonsense. We should spend the money on aid that needs to be spent on aid."

LGA: Council tax freeze short-term offer

Responding to the proposal to extend the council tax freeze, chairman of the Local Government Association Sir Merrick Cockell said:

Any help for councils is a good thing, but we have to be clear that this is a short-term offer. It doesn't address the huge long-term pressures councils are facing including bigger cuts than any other part of the public sector and an immediate and growing crisis in funding care for the elderly. Councils could now have to budget for a further future shortfall.It is only right that councils take a longer-term view on budget planning and that decisions on the level of council tax are made by councillors who will then rightly be held to account through the ballot box.

Councils care for the elderly, look after vulnerable children and collect the bins from our streets and in order to carry on doing this effectively local authorities need local discretion to consider the long-term interests of their residents before deciding if they will take up this Government offer.

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