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0845 273 2500 Home David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said before an EU summit on the eurozone debt crisis that he would not agree to any treaty change ‘that fails to protect our interests’. Downing Street rejected suggestions by Iain Duncan Smith that a referendum on the EU would be made necessary by the changes proposed. Sir Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, said that the crisis posed an ‘exceptionally threatening environment’ for British banks and that they should increase their capital reserves in preference to paying dividends or bonuses. The Bank of England had earlier joined the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and the central banks of Canada, Japan and Switzerland in a concerted effort to address the international debt crisis by easing lending. Christopher Logue, the poet, died, aged 85.
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, announced 60 goals for the National Health Service, the 58th of which was to reduce ‘incidence of medication errors causing serious harm’. The government proposed using data on National Health Service patients to enable private-sector pharmaceutical research. High street shops found that they had enjoyed a 38 per cent increase in trade during the one-day public service workers’ strike. Carillion, which installs solar panels, said the jobs of 1,000 of its staff were at risk after the government halved the tariff paid for electricity generated by householders. The government thought it might spend £500 million on a tunnel for a mile and a half of the proposed high-speed train line in Buckinghamshire. There was a ‘real risk’ that the 2012 Olympic Games could exceed their £9.3 billion budget, the National Audit Office reported. Two giant pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, set up home in Edinburgh Zoo.
MPs passed a motion calling for new laws to change the extradition treaty between Britain and the United States and to reform the way the European Arrest Warrant works. Westminster Council proposed a new by-law to rid Parliament Square of its untidy encampment of campaigners. The Iranian ambassador was told to leave Britain after the storming of the British embassy in Tehran. Jim Paice, the agriculture minister, said that British egg producers ought not to be undercut by foreign battery-chicken farmers whom the EU failed to control.
Abroad A‘golden rule’ against running up a deficit should be compulsory for eurozone countries, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said after a meeting in preparation for an EU summit on the euro crisis. There would be sanctions against countries allowing a deficit above 3 per cent of GDP. The Franco-German agreement envisaged treaty changes for all 27 EU member states, or if that was not possible, just the 17 eurozone states. But Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, said that no treaty change was needed at all, just a ‘fiscal compact’. The German and French leaders had agreed that the spectator | 10 December 2011 | www.spectator.co.uk there would be no eurobonds. Earlier, Mario Draghi, the new president of the ECB, had told the European parliament that any buying up of government debt by the bank would be limited.
Standard & Poor’s, the credit rating agency, announced that France, Germany, Austria, Holland, Finland and Luxembourg ran a 50 per cent risk of having their AAA rating downgraded a step in the coming three months. Jacques Delors, the former president of the European Commission, said that the euro had been ‘flawed’ from the start, and accused present-day leaders of doing too little, too late. Ireland saw benefits cut and tax increased in an austerity budget. A Latvian living in a cardboard box in Dublin was found dead from cold.
United Russia, the party of Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister, won less than 50 per cent of votes in a general election, even though international observers reported flagrant violations of electoral procedure, against which protestors rallied in Moscow. Herman Cain, the black Republican, said he was suspending his campaign for the presidential nomination in the face of allegations of sexual harassment. Belgium formed a government after 541 days without one. Bombs in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan killed dozens, mostly Shia worshippers, on the feast of Ashura. Dozens of corpses were dumped in squares in Homs after opponents of the Syrian regime were abducted. Eighty cargo ships were stranded on the border of Hungary and Serbia by the low level of the drought-affected Danube. CSH