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The Naked Truth series – France and the French – How to Survive Buying a Home in France and Living with the Enemy

The Naked Truth Book 2

available on Kindle

If anyone should know his onions about France, the French and their funny little ways, it’s George East. When he and his wife Donella bought their first home across the Channel, they made so many cock-ups that George wrote a book to warn others about the perils and pitfalls. Home & Dry in France became a best-seller, and was the first of a series of acclaimed books recording their adventures while living with the enemy.

After countless articles, blogs and lectures, George has finally compressed half a lifetime’s experiences of French adventuring into this single publication.
If you are even thinking about thinking about buying a home in France or moving there to live, we think you’ll find it essential reading.

And by the way, it’s also a jolly good read…

Final cover pic large

Format: Kindle e-book  ISBN: 9781908747167   Price: £2.92

Available through Amazon Kindle or

Toques et Clochers

Toques et Clochers is a two day festival and charity auction whose proceeds go to the renovation of the 42 villages church steeples of the four-terroirs Limoux appellation area of the Aude.

21GApGSFryoQt3BklEcEWq7P0s7JcNazl6kJd1F96GcEach year, a different village is selected to host the festival and raise funds for next years beneficiary, also to celebrate the recent renovation of its own church. Last year funds benefited St Joseph’s SchoolWCxNQS7F-8Ynfx8gnu5KfZxs_ZqAui5r08NKo3JPrbo Church in Limoux. Funds raised this weekend will contribute to the church’s renovation in Pomas, a village just north of Limoux.

It brings together winemakers, wine professionals, restaurateurs and customers from around the world in a festive atmosphere for over 20,000 people.

It is a respected and recognised celebration in the wine world, and now the second biggest wine auction in France after ‘Hospices de Beaune’. A hundred barrels were sold during the Sotheby’s auction presided over by Arnaul Lallement from ‘L’Assiette Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 12.07.27Champenoise’ restaurant in Reims.

He is a ‘Toque’, a Grand Chef, with three Michelin stars to his name, and was responsible for organizing other stared chefs for a gala dinner last Sunday, enhanced with the usual Limoux fécos dancers in traditional pierrot costume . . .

The procession told the story of winemaking on tractor-pulled tableaux and included models of previous churches that have benefited from the generosity of the wine drinking fraternity. The street decorations were all made from recycling plastic bottles and cups as you will have noticed . . .

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It was one hour later when you woke up on Sunday morning . . . 29th March

Clocks forward 2015

April’s reading

Service Before Self

by Tegon Maus
Product Details
When Toby Grant starts his first day as a service technician at Handy Dandy Services, in San Bernardino he has no idea what his first week will be like, but full of expectation that first day he is partnered with very experienced Ryan Burnell. 
Ryan makes no bones about his reluctance in having to wet nurse Toby and refuses to use his name, calling him ‘Newbie’ instead, and continually reminds him of the company slogan ‘Service Before Self.
However, his partner’s reluctance is nothing compared to the colorful characters Toby meets on the job, so to speak.
From eccentric waste billionaires and very flirtatious women, to unbelievable roach problems and ghosts in the attic, Toby’s numerous adventures in this book will make you laugh repeatedly, however, be aware some will also make your skin crawl. And, all the while poor Toby has to follow the deadpan instructions both gestures and verbal of the reluctant Ryan and do his bidding at a flick of a coin.
However, Toby soon discovers that the Ryan he knows today is a very different character from the man he was a few years before. Back then he was involved in the dangerous worlds of drugs and murder, and, his previous partner was stabbed 27 times.
Ryan certainly has some dark secrets and soon his past is about resurface….
This story is not only a very funny, if cringe worthy insight into the working day of company representatives, and what sometimes they see when entering other people’s homes; but also an extremely gripping thriller in parts as Ryan is pulled back, yet again, into the world of drugs he left behind five years previously.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading every page of this story and would happily recommend it as a brilliantly entertaining book.
Reviewed by Susan Keefe
Available from

Can You Hear The Music?

by Sandra Farris
Product Details
Publisher: Sandra Farris   Language: English   ASIN: B0079OG342   Price $7.86 – 204 Pages   Genre: Fiction
Set in the early 1900’s, this is a truly heart- warming story about Corey James, a young girl whose parents die in a car crash and she is taken to live with her Uncle George and Aunt Lizzie who she does not know.
The dominating Aunt Lizzie dislikes Corey and abuses her, both mentally and physically, even her husband is afraid of her!
After a failed escape, where she is caught by her wicked aunt, Corey cuts off her hair and pretends to be a boy, very convincingly. She is befriended by a stranger called Andy who takes her under his wing and teaches her how to survive honestly.
This is an amazing story following the adventure which is Corey’s life. It is a wonderful book which takes us on a rollercoaster of emotions as we watch this young girl grow-up and fall in love.
Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Circus Elephant: Realizing How Powerful You Truly Are

by John Holley Jr.
Product Details
Publisher:   Language: English   ASIN: B00JYHY7YA   Price: $3.03 – 60 Pages   Genre: Self-Help
What an intriguing title, I thought, and then I started to read…
Coach and author John Holley Jr. delivers his inspirational message through a unique and totally captivating story, that of the life and training of a circus Elephant.
How strange, I hear you say, yes, but it works so well. The messages the book contains are explained clearly and so interesting that it held my attention right from the start.
Whatever your goal, whether you want to take control of your life, emotions, body, finances, or in your relationships this book gives you the power to succeed. It contains well written advice, a wealth of inspirational stories, and examples of people throughout history who have turned the tide on themselves, sometimes against incredible odds.
The author has given you the power and inspiration you need and armed with this book, the rest is up to you.
Reviewed by Susan Keefe


In the garden – April

March has brought it’s usual share of changeable weather – “les giboulées de mars” -  but spring is definitely here; many shrubs and perennials are starting to flower, the grass needs cutting and the weeds are growing so there is plenty to do in the garden.

  • continue to tidy up foliage on perennials, and cut back perennial and sub shrubby plants to the base -  they will regrow with greater vigour and better shape  Any plants which flower on the current year’s growth can be pruned.  Spring flowering shrubs such as Philadelphus should be pruned after flowering.
  • the weeds will be growing even faster than the flowers so do keep on top of weeding and do try to remove annual weeds such as speedwell and chickweed before they have a chance to set seed.  Think about mulching to suppress weed growth later in the year and to help conserve moisture.
  • if you have botanical (ie species) bulbs in the garden don’t dead head them and they should reseed, Anemone blanda and coronaria seem particularly happy to self seed around and some tulips and crocus will also.  Other bulbs can be dead headed, as can pansies
  • planting – April and early May are excellent planting times and most nurseries will have plenty of stock available.  When buying plants it is easy to fall for the “achat de coup de coeur” and buy plants which are in flower now; do try and plan for colour and interest in the garden later in the year or else the garden can be sadly lacking in colour during August!.  Check also on drought tolerance and winter hardiness of plants that you are interested in buying.  Try and improve the soil where you plant, many local soils are a limy clay that can be improved by the addition of some organic material and some clean sand (sable de la riviére) and/or gravel for better soil structure and drainage (never use builder’s sand).  Plants planted this spring will need watering during the first summer while they become established, even if they are drought resistant varieties.
  • apply a balanced general purpose fertiliser to borders and beds and also to trees and shrubs
  • if you have a lawn then now is a good time to reseed any scruffy patches.

Allium tuberosum 2In the last couple of garden notes we have been talking about herbs and we will continue with the edibles theme for a little longer. This month I am going to comment on chives.  We are probably all familiar with chives (Allium schoenoprasum) which is a lovely perennial herb that likes full sun and a rich, moist soil and has attractive pinky purple flowers in May.  Great in salads and as a garnish.

Unfortunately, chives tends to become dormant after flowering, if you are looking for chives to go in summer salads then there are two very similar plants which do very well in the climate.

Allium tuberosum or Chinese Chives is a perennial plant which also likes full sun and a rich soil but it flowers during August so you can enjoy the foliage during the summer months.

Tulbaghia violacea (Society Garlic) is a cousin of chives from South Africa which, again, appreciates similar growing conditions but Tulbaghia violaceahas very pretty pink to violet flowers all through the summer, the chopped leaves are equally good in salads.  The flowers of all three plants are edible as well and make a pretty decoration.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt this time of year you may find yourself weeding up a plant which looks like garlic or onion in your garden; this is probably the poireau des vignes (Allium polyanthum or wild leek), another herbaceous perennial but if you gather enough it can make a lovely soup.  Just chop the bulbs and a little of the foliage finely and sweat in butter with some finely diced potato, add water and seasoning et voila!

The nursery and garden are  open every weekend until the end of November on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays from 10 to 18h and at other times by appointment.

And, looking ahead – a date for your diary – we shall be holding our annual open weekend at La Petite Pépinière over the weekend of 6th and 7th June, if you are on my mailing list you’ll receive more details soon or if you would like to know more contact We are still finalising the programme but it will be similar to previous years.


For further information contact Gill Pound at La Petite Pépinière de Caunes (shrubs and perennials, ornamental grasses, unusual plants and plants for dry climates), 21, Avenue de la Montagne Noire, 11160, Caunes-Minervois.  Tel: 04 68 78 43 81, email

We know that the French are enthusiastic about Cheese, but look at this for an exhibition !

The Milk Factory, is a Pop-up gallery and ‘reflection space’ dedicated to dairy products: Milk Factory – 5 Rue Paul Bert – 75011 Paris Tel: 01 43 48 83 94

logoOpen Tuesday to Saturday from 13:30 to 19h – free admission - Summer hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 1:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. – Closed Saturday, July 12

To get there by Metro: Faidherbe Chaligny / Charonne, or by Bus: 46-86 or by Vélib use stations: 11007 – 11008-11101 – 11107- 11112

It’s set up as a culinary creative laboratory of ‘Collective Dairy Products’ and aims to be a laboratory of ideas. The Milk Factory is a multidisciplinary space dedicated to research work (creative) around the dairy business. It provides a forum for artists of all kinds: chefs, artists, photographers, designers, who together they create, invent, exhibit.


. . . and there is an exhibition on from 13th March to 20th April by photographers Vincent Lappartient & Sophie Carre.

Mounia and the Cheeses Girls

This is a photographic portfolio of 15 girls from the French athletic sorority.  They MOUNIA-BRIYA-9681-300x225include Muriel Hurtis, Nathalie Pechalat and Victoria Ravva.  The girls are high-level sports personalities and all seem to share a blatent love for that emblem of European culture and French heritage . . . Cheese.

Fifteen passionate champions have been assembled by Mounia Beria – ‘Mounia and Cheese Girls’ – all changing the playing field and posing with their favorite cheese in front of two amused  fashion photographers Sophie Carre and Vincent Lappartient.

ORNELLA-DAMPERON-6789-225x300It’s billed as being the “largest ever created women’s movement around the love of French cheeses. “ Today there are hundreds to be found throughout this fine group of women: a generation of hungry women who wish to satisfy their appetite freely between the salad and dessert. It is a revolution on a plate, the consecration of those brave that he will sign before a Morbier . . .  so there that’s French Cheese for you !

W is for Why France ?

by Louise Sayers

175_France_SOS_April15A spam email dropped into my inbox urging me to buy a seemingly paradisical plot of land for next to nothing in the Cayman Islands.

It looked pretty enticing, I have to say, but when I started to daydream, I realised that, even without the complications involved in uprooting my life, husband, children and all, the Cayman Islands would not really be a practical, or in fact, particularly appealing place for me to buy property.

So I started thinking of the reasons WHY France is such a good place to buy and, hey presto, that was the theme for this ‘W’ article taken care of!






So, here’s my top 6 reasons why to choose France for your overseas property purchase whether you are searching for a holiday home or are upping sticks and relocating:

1. Accessibility

One of my best friends married an Aussie and enjoys an exceptional quality of life swanning around by Bondi Beach in Sydney. But there’s no getting away from the fact that she sees her beloved parents, sister and friends at most once a year and misses them terribly. Australia is a long, long way away from the UK, France is not.

Those of us who have chosen to move to France are lucky enough to be able to fly to England frequently to visit family and friends if we so desire, and they can easily pop over for weekends. New routes between the UK and France are being opened up all the time.

As well as Ryanair – the subject of copious expat gripes but, let’s face it, would half of us be here without them? – numerous airlines have tapped into this market including bmi baby, Easyjet and more recently Aer Lingus, currently billing themselves as “Your new low cost option to Europe”.

2. Weather

There is nothing quite so lovely as the perfect English summer – the problem is the dependability factor! Rather bizarrely, given that I live in the Pyrénées-Orientales, a south of France mecca for holidaymakers in July and August, I generally spend my summer holidays in Norfolk (I work on the “a change is as good as a rest” principle)!

In more than four weeks over the last four years, I can count the number of genuinely swimming-in-the-sea sunny days on one hand, and that’s being generous!

Although there are, of course, huge variations across the country, France generally enjoys better weather than the UK. I’m a sun bunny me so the south of France is ideal – no grey incessant drizzle to contend with and plenty of bright blue skies and hot, hot, hot summers.

That might not be your bag but milder temperatures can be found in other parts of France. In fact, there’s something for everyone here (unless you’re after truly Arctic conditions, in which case, you are clearly insane!).

3. Variety of landscapes

Again, there’s something for everyone on this front too. The majority of French people tend to holiday in France, the general consensus being why would you spend a fortune on air fares when you have everything you can wish for here, from the snowy peaks of the alpine ski resorts to the dazzlingly beautiful beaches of Corsica and the saltwater marshes of the Camargue.

Similarly, you can pursue a wealth of activities here, from some of the best surfing in the world in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques around Biarritz, to world class windsurfing on the Mediterreanean coast in Leucate, from walking in the Pyrenees to climbing in the Alps. Whatever your penchant, you’ll find a landscape and related activities to suit.

4. A more healthy lifestyle

In France the pursuit of pleasure and style is considered far more important than success and wealth and it’s a nicer place to live as a result. When I go back to England, I am always a little taken aback by the frenetic pace of life.

Conversely, our visitors are astounded that most shops are shut on Sundays, sometimes Mondays too, and the whole country comes to a standstill between 12 and 2 as everyone downs tools for lunch. It took some getting used to but I love this element of French life now.  Less stressful, less materialistic, more active – what’s not to like?

5. Food

Few people would argue that the French have one of the finest cuisines in the world, a reputation which they are keen to protect. One thing I particularly love is the fact that the country is fiercely proud of its gastronomic heritage.

This is demonstrated in the way that regional specialities are, quite literally, fêted. Any village or town famous for a particular food whether it be something grown (like fruit) or produced (like cheese) will hold an annual fête in its honour.

For example, in this area, the town of Céret, famous for its cherries, reputed to be the earliest ripening in France, celebrates with the Fête de la Cerise, involving tastings, live music and a giant apéro attended by practically everyone in the town.

Lovers of all foodstuffs French should check out the Reflets de France range (stocked in Carrefour, Champion and a number of smaller supermarket chains) which showcases locally produced foodstuffs and aims to protect and promote France’s gastronomic heritage.

There are over 300 products in the range from Normandy cider to Guérande salt, which the brand is credited with saving from industrial production.

6. Stable and well regulated property market

Of course, France is by no means the cheapest place you can buy property in the world and Brits buying abroad are being enticed to invest in property in alternative locations from Croatia to Cape Verde.

These markets may be appealing but, immature as they are, they offer far more risk. Often, rapid growth in the supply of property is not matched by developments in infrastructure which can cause problems. These markets are also more at risk during these tricky recessionary times and there have been some hefty price drops over the last year.

France is a much more stable market, better equipped to weather the current storm and offer good mid to long term investment potential. In addition, the property market is well regulated with estate agents having to meet stringent legal requirements before being granted the “carte professionelle” enabling them to work.

If you’ve got the means, now is the time to bag a bargain in France, with most vendors willing to negotiate on price. Why France? Why not France?

This series of articles first appeared in French Property News magazine.  Please note that some of the information contained in them may be out of date.

UKIP, perhaps with their hands in the till, and more from UK politics – on Sunday 29th March

Election Bulletin for Sunday 29th March 2015

A media round-up of news, views and comment pertaining to the UK 2015 General Election- Produced by Early Morning Media




Cameron makes personal attack on Miliband

David Cameron has launched a personal attack on Ed Miliband as he accused the Labour leader of presiding over a group of “hypocritical holier-than-thou, hopeless, sneering socialists” who have betrayed their traditional values. Speaking at the Conservative spring conference, Mr Cameron admitted the upcoming general election was “on a knife edge” but said that with five years’ experience he believed he was the right person to lead the country rather than Mr Miliband. The PM said that “this is a high-stakes, high-risk election” and claimed it was a contest between just two parties: Labour and the Conservatives. He also accused Labour of betraying its traditional values and no longer representing working people. The Tory leader also explained his plans to make the NHS a priority by offering a full seven-day service, with senior doctors available to treat patients at weekends in a bid to reduce mortality levels. He said: “With a future Conservative government, we would have a truly seven-day NHS. Already millions more people can see a GP seven days a week, but by 2020 I want this for everyone, with hospitals properly staffed, especially for urgent and emergency care, so that everyone will have access to the NHS services they need seven days a week by 2020 – the first country in the world to make this happen.” Andy Burnham, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said the plans were not credible without investment in extra NHS staff. “With the NHS in increasing financial distress, David Cameron must set out clearly how it will be paid for,” he said.

The Observer, Page: 1, 8   The Independent on Sunday, Page: 7   The Mail on Sunday, Page: 4   Sunday Express, Page: 4  The Sun, Page: 8   The Sunday Times, Page: 1, 2  The Sunday Telegraph     


Sturgeon promises to reform Westminster for all

The SNP’s leader has promised her party would reform the “discredited Westminster system” for ordinary people, wherever they lived in the UK. Nicola Sturgeon told a gathering of party faithful in Glasgow that a shake-up was needed to bring positive change. She also said it was time to abolish the House of Lords where members are paid “£300 a day for just showing up”. Ms Sturgeon said in her keynote address to the SNP’s spring conference: “I think I can safely say that we do still want Scotland to be independent. “But at this general election – with the power of the big parties weaker than ever before – I say this to people of progressive opinion all across the UK. As long as Scotland remains part of the Westminster system, we will be your allies in seeking to shake up and reform that outdated and discredited system once and for all.” Ms Sturgeon pledged that if there were a hung parliament, SNP MPs would vote to “stop a Tory government even getting off the ground”. She then set a challenge to Labour to “match” her pledge and “join forces with a vote of confidence to lock David Cameron out of Downing Street”. Meanwhile, Gordon Brown warned that the SNP was offering one hand of friendship to the UK, while holding the other hand ready to punch Britain apart. The former PM said: “Ms Sturgeon is announcing today that she is offering the hand of friendship to the rest of the people of Britain. I know that that this means to offer the right hand of friendship to keep the left hand free to deliver the knockout blow to break Britain apart.”

The Independent on Sunday, Page: 28   The Observer, Page: 8   The Mail on Sunday, Page: 17   The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 2


Clegg eyes female vote

Nick Clegg will look to win the female vote when he launches the Liberal Democrats’ election campaign today. Party strategists believe that women’s votes will be crucial to their chances of success across a range of key battleground constituencies. The Deputy PM will begin his election “battle bus” tour in the ultra-marginal constituency of Oxford West and Abingdon, one of several Tory-held target seats where the Lib Dems are fielding a female candidate. Party strategists say their own internal surveys show women voters coming over to them in a series of must-win seats. An internal Lib Dem poll of 18 marginal constituencies shows that the number of women who say they are undecided about how to vote has fallen by 8% since last year, while support for the Lib Dems, at 25%, has risen by 10%. The Lib Dems claim younger women are particularly attracted to their policy on shared parental leave, while headline plans to prioritise mental health, raise tax thresholds and cut the deficit have proven popular among women generally.

The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 2   The Mail on Sunday, Page: 12   The Sun, Page: 2


Blair donation fires up Lib Dems

Tony Blair’s donation of £106,000 to Labour’s election campaign appears to be backfiring, reports the Sunday Telegraph. The Lib Dems are using the donation to fire up their own supporters. In a letter to party members, Tim Farron, the Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman and former party president, calls on donors to fight fire with fire. He claims that “about £20,000 of Mr Blair’s donation is going directly to fighting the Lib Dems in seats where we’re up against Labour. Those Liberal Democrat candidates opposed Blair’s illegal war in Iraq and are fighting to get the Chilcot report published so he can be held to account. He is trying to silence them, and we don’t want to let him. Please will you make a donation today, so we can match the £20,000 Blair has put into fighting Lib Dem candidates?”

The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 13


Kinnock accuses PM of “big lie

The Mail on Sunday reports that Neil Kinnock has compared David Cameron’s election tactics to Hitler’s infamous “big lie” about the Jews. In a speech at a rally hosted by Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman the former opposition leader accused the PM of telling a “great lie” about Labour’s economic record. It had “etched its way into the consciousness of the British people in tribute to the attributes of the great lie almost on a scale practised in Germany before the War”, said Lord Kinnock.

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 10-11





Poll indicates Miliband victor in TV debate

The first full survey since Thursday’s TV debate shows Labour moving to a four-point lead, with viewers now saying Ed Miliband won the contest. A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times indicates a swing of more than six percentage points from Conservative to Labour across England and Wales. If this were repeated in every constituency, Labour would gain enough seats to come close to an outright majority, even if it lost badly in Scotland. Labour would end up with 314 MPs and the Tories 251, followed by the SNP (48) and Lib Dems (16). Peter Kellner, president of YouGov, believes Thursday night’s television performance – and, at least as important, media coverage of it – has done Miliband a power of good. “In an era when voters think most politicians are up to no good, he is seen as more trustworthy, genuine and in touch than Cameron. If the coming election were decided by likeability, he would win comfortably. He now needs to show that he has the makings of a national leader,” said Mr Kellner. The Sunday Times’ leader says that  Mr Cameron did not do badly in Thursday’s TV debate but he did not make the best of what should be a strong hand. It concludes that he did not show enough hunger, enough passion and that he needs to find a way of doing so in the next 5½ weeks otherwise he will “drift to defeat”.

The Sunday Times, Page: 2   The Sun, Page: 2   The Observer, Page: 1, 8   The Sunday Times, Page: 24


Clegg accused of hypocrisy over debate refusal

Nick Clegg has been accused of “hypocrisy” after refusing to take part in a live TV debate with rival candidates vying for his increasingly marginal Sheffield Hallam constituency. The Lib Dem leader was critical of David Cameron when he initially announced that he would not be taking part in the live leaders’ debates ahead of the general election. Yet Mr Clegg has told BBC’s Sunday Politics programme that he will be too busy to take on Oliver Coppard, the Labour candidate who established a shock poll lead over the deputy PM last year, and the Conservatives’ Ian Walker. According to the Independent on Sunday, the Lib Dem leader has instead asked if he can send a spokesman, such as the former Sheffield City council leader Lord Scriven. A Lib Dem spokesman said: “We’ve done a debate in Sheffield. Nick couldn’t make the dates asked for by Sunday Politics. He will be doing plenty of TV interviews during the campaign. Any suggestions we’re actively ducking it are ridiculous.”

The Independent on Sunday, Page: 19


Four questions for seven leaders

The Mail on Sunday reports that this week’s second TV election debate will see just four questions put to the seven party leaders taking part. The leaders will be given just one minute to answer each of the four questions uninterrupted on the main election issues. The rest of the two-hour show will consist of 17-minute debates on each of the four topics, when the leaders can challenge each other. Wednesday’s debate on ITV, moderated by Julie Etchingham, is the only one where David Cameron and Ed Miliband will go head to head. According to the Mail, the four questions are expected to focus on the economy, NHS, immigration and Britain’s future as a nation.

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 10


Parties leading women in family-focused debate

The main political parties’ leading women are to take part in an election debate this week. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, Conservative Treasury minister Andrea Leadsom and senior women from the Lib Dems, the Green Party and UKIP will take part in what is believed to be the only all-female debate of the election. Wednesday’s event is organised by the children’s charity 4Children and will be hosted by ITV’s Kate Garraway. While any subject is up for debate, the politicians will take questions from parents at a primary school in the key marginal constituency of Battersea, south London, who are expected to ask about childcare, education and family budgets.

The Independent on Sunday, Page: 19


Cameron accused of using Queen to win votes

David Cameron has been accused of using the Queen to win votes after insisting on an “unnecessary” visit to Buckingham Palace tomorrow. The PM’s pre-election audience with the Queen traditionally fires the starting gun for the dissolution of Parliament and the launch of the election campaigns. But according to the Mail on Sunday sources say Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has voiced private concern at Mr Cameron’s conduct. They say that under the new Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, the Election date was already set in stone, so there is no need for the PM to go to the palace tomorrow.

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 11





Davey throws doubt on coalition

Ed Davey, the Lib Dem energy secretary, has hinted that he would oppose a second coalition with the Tories because their policy on Europe amounts to “economic and environmental irresponsibility of the highest order”. Mr Davey told the Observer that, by contrast, the Lib Dems and Labour shared many views on the environment, although he feared that Ed Miliband’s policy of regulating energy prices would drive away investment. He said he found another deal between the Lib Dems and Tories that would involve backing an in/out EU referendum “incredibly difficult” to envisage.

The Observer, Page: 9





Cameron hails tax breaks and pension reforms

David Cameron has told the Sunday Telegraph that he is planning to introduce new tax cuts for married couples. A tax break which comes into force in April will be worth up to an extra £212 a year for wedded partners, and Mr Cameron said he wants to extend it further if he remains in power after the election. The prime minister also hailed the government’s pension reforms, describing them as profound and fundamental. “They are about trusting people who have worked hard and saved all their lives to spend their own money as they choose and I believe in trusting people profoundly,” he says.

The Sunday Telegraph





Local party members upset over candidate choice

Labour has been accused of attempting to parachute Ed Miliband’s director of strategy and planning into the safe seat of Coventry North West. Sources in the local Labour party told the Observer that the constituency’s MP, Geoffrey Robinson, informed senior branch members on Thursday that he would be standing down after 39 years and that he would be recommending that Greg Beales replace him. Local party members said that they were hurt that the decision appeared to have been taken without their consultation, and that they were worried they would be denied the opportunity to select a candidate in the normal way because it is so close to the general election.

The Observer


Claims EDL plot Tory was member of Islamic sect

The Mail on Sunday claims that the Tory election candidate exposed for plotting with far-Right extremists to stir up racial hatred is a former member of a fanatical Islamic sect. The paper says that Afzal Amin, who resigned after undercover recordings of him meeting the English Defence League were revealed, joined the Birmingham wing of the Murabitun, a fundamentalist cult which allegedly questioned the Holocaust and praised Hitler. Elsewhere, Christina Lamb, in the Sunday Times, looks at how Amin’s actions have wiped out any chances the Tories had of taking the Dudley North seat.

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 13   The Sunday Times, Page: 18





Unite reduces donation over candidate row

The Sunday Times claims Ed Miliand is facing a £200,000 election funding shortfall after a row between the Labour party and its main donor, the Unite trade union. Senior Labour figures had expected a £1.5m donation from the union before a row over the selection of a parliamentary candidate in Halifax. Karie Murphy, a close friend of the Unite leader, Len McCluskey, wanted to stand in the West Yorkshire seat and had the union’s backing, but did not even make the interview list. Mr McCluskey, who attacked Miliband’s aides in the wake of the decision, announced Unite was giving a fresh donation on Friday but for £1m – £500,000 less than senior Labour figures had hoped for.

The Sunday Times, Page: 2





PM vows to keep migration target

David Cameron has pledged to keep his target to cut net migration down to “the tens of thousands”. In an interview with theSunday Telegraph, Mr Cameron insisted such a dramatic reduction in immigration remained the right target for the UK. The PM said he understood the concerns of many traditional Tory voters who were dismayed that the government had failed to reduce migration levels. “Britain is facing quite a lot of pressure because the level of migration has been too high for too long. You see that on school places, and you see that in some places on the health service,” he said. Asked if there was a “limit” to the number of people Britain can accommodate in the population, Mr Cameron replied: “Yes, I think there is. Getting net migration to below 100,000 annually remains the right ambition. That, obviously, therefore has an effect on population.”

The Sunday Telegraph





Tories accused of burying EU review

A cross-party group of peers has accused ministers of trying to “bury” the results of the biggest ever Whitehall examination of EU powers, after it found no evidence that the EU was interfering excessively in any aspect of British life. Commenting on the report by the European Union Committee of the House of Lords, former Tory minister Lord Boswell, who chairs the committee, said: “There is no point spending up to £5m of public money on an excellent review and then burying it. People need to know the facts about the UK-EU relationship.” He told the Observer that of the 32 reports into different areas of the EU’s operation in the review, there was “no report in which it was demonstrated that too much power resided in Brussels”.

The Observer, Page: 4





Paphitis says rates review is PR stunt

Theo Paphitis, chairman of Ryman and Robert Dyas, has dismissed George Osborne’s planned review of business rates as a PR stunt. “They [the government] had all the time in the world to deal with business rates and, of course, they announce it just as they’re leaving. Just in time for the next Election.” He stated. Calculations by the OBR suggest business rates will increase by 17% to £32bn over the next five years, despite the review.

The Mail on Sunday, Page: 89, 90, 93


VAT flat rate boosts business

After David Cameron pledged not to raise VAT if he remains in power after the election, the Sunday Times’ Melanie Wright considers the benefits small businesses gain by using HMRC’s flat rate scheme. She explains that under the flat rate scheme, VAT is charged on a company’s invoices at 20% as normal but businesses pay only 4% to 14.5% to HMRC. Out of the 2m businesses registered for VAT, about 350,000 have joined the scheme so far.

The Sunday Times, Money,  Page: 13




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UK Budget Overview by Early Morning Media, Thursday 19th March 2015

Osborne calls time on austerity Britain

George Osborne has declared that Britain was “walking tall again” in his pre-election Budget which helped savers and loosened the screws on public spending.

He declared Britain was on “the road from austerity to prosperity” and declared that Britain was “the comeback country”.

Growth projections were upgraded by less than anticipated by the OBR, amid concern about the Eurozone and disappointing productivity results. The OBR put up GDP by 0.1% to 2.5% this year and 2.6% next.

The OBR also revised down its inflation projection given the sharp fall in the price of oil, delivering a £4bn windfall to the public finances because of a smaller spend on interest payments from inflation-linked debt.

Amongst the key measures the Chancellor announced were: a promise to raise the size of the income tax personal allowance to £10,800 in 2015/16 and £11,000 the year after; a new personal savings allowance where the first £1,000 of interest on savings income is to be tax-free for basic rate taxpayers; a new “Help to Buy” ISA for first-time buyers; Beer duty was cut by 1p, cider by 2p, scotch whisky by 2p and wine duty frozen; a review of the business rates scheme; and a freeze in petrol duty.

The giveaways were funded by a large increase in the bank levy, costing banks £685bn this year alone, tax avoidance measures and a pensions raid.

shutterstock_158031662The Times, Page: 1   Financial Times, Page: 1   The Daily Telegraph, Page: 8    The Guardian, Page: 1, 6-7, 11-12    The Independent, Page: 1-4   Independent I, Page: 4-5   Daily Express, Page: 12-13    Daily Mail, Page: 1-2  Evening Standard, Page: 1-3   The Sun, Page: 1, 4-5

Columnists debate Budget

An editorial in the Mail says the Budget has systematically demolished any rational argument for voting Labour on May 7th. The paper states that there is no doubt about which party is a better fit to steer the ship. Alex Brummer in the same paper says the UK’s economic revival is an “awesome success story”. Meanwhile, Margareta Pagano in the Independent applauds the Chancellor for not attempting to fix what isn’t broken. She also points out that the coalition has raised £397.7bn from the business community in the last year – a £73bn increase on the amount raised in Labour’s last year in office. Leo McKinstry in the Express says the Budget was a package of pragmatic, sensible measures that will help to cement Britain’s economic revival, fuel job creation and improve living standards for most of the population. The Guardian’s Simon Jenkins comments that although David Cameron may be PM, George Osborne is the one in charge. He adds that Mr Osborne has enhanced his reputation whilst Chancellor and no matter the election result, we will see more of him. Jonathan Freedland adds in the same paper that Mr Osborne may have convinced many but beneath the bluster he believes the Conservatives are on the defensive. An editorial in the FT states that a government which is insistent on cutting debt should not make it worse with bungs for wealthy savers, while Diane Coyle, also in the FT, asks whether the Budget will benefit the whole country. The leader column in the Times says the Chancellor’s fiscal discipline could well pay off at the polls. The paper adds that it did not sound like the Budget of a Chancellor who expected it to be his last.

Daily Mail, Page: 15-16    The Independent, Page: 11   Daily Express, Page: 12-13   The Guardian, Page: 1, 7, 37    Financial Times, Page: 18    Financial Times    The Times, Page: 37

Rivals react

Responding to George Osborne’s Budget, Ed Balls stated that the Chancellor’s claims that Britain is walking tall seemed “out of touch with reality”. The shadow chancellor also writes a column in the Mirror, in which he says the Budget was a “complete flop”. He argues that after five years of the Tories, working people are still an average £1,600 a year worse off. The Labour leader Ed Miliband added that the gap between the Chancellor’s rhetoric and the reality of people’s lives had never been greater and that the Chancellor had failed working families. The Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy accused the Chancellor of being in “complete denial about the damage he has caused after five years of failing and painful austerity”.  The Lib Dems Danny Alexander said the deficit problem won’t be dealt with by simply cutting public spending, while UKIP’s Nigel Farage said the government has evidently failed in its promise to the British people to eradicate the deficit. The markets reacted more favourably – with shares continuing to rally. However, sterling was subdued and gilt yields slipped in reaction to the plan to issue more long-dated bonds.

Financial Times, Page: 3    Financial Times, Page: 3    Financial Times, Page: 4    Independent I, Page: 9   Independent, Page: 6-7   The Guardian, Page: 7  Daily Mirror, Page: 9   Evening Standard, Page: 3   BBC News

Pollsters see no immediate political impact

Pollsters have suggested that George Osborne’s final Budget before the election will help to shore up support among Tory-inclined voters, but it is unlikely to have changed the political landscape with a series of announcements that lacked a single populist offering of the nation. Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos Mori, said: “It’s all about six words, ‘long-term economic plan’ and Ed Miliband. It was a case of steady as she goes.” Tom Mludzinski, head of political polling at ComRes, stated that it was not a conventional electioneering statement. “It was upbeat and positive with lots for everybody but not much in the way of instant benefits, nothing that would get an immediate political reward,” he said. Rick Nye, managing director of Populus, added that the Chancellor was trying to woo some key voting groups directly, but the key message was to say to voters that they have a real stake in the success of a second term, Conservative-led government.

Financial Times, Page: 6    Financial Times, Page: 6    The Guardian, Page: 16

Anti-tax avoidance and evasion measures will recoup an extra £3.1bn

George Osborne said £565m will be recouped from British tax evaders by 2019 under new European-wide rules requiring countries to exchange tax information automatically. A total of 51 countries including Britain signed the Common Reporting Standard, which will come into effect from September 2017 with a further 30 countries joining a year later. Mr Osborne also announced measures to clamp down on businesses creating artificial losses to reduce tax and brought forward the closure of the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility, which allows tax evaders to avoid prosecution if they confess and pay their tax. Meanwhile, Danny Alexander is due to announce plans for a new offence of ‘corporate failure to prevent economic crime’.

The Times, Page: 13   Financial Times, Page: 13   The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3   The Guardian, Page: 12   Daily Mail, Page: 8   The Daily Telegraph, Page: 2  

Business rate reward for local growth

Greater Manchester and Cambridge councils will be allowed to keep 100% of any growth of their business rates above existing forecasts and be free to invest this extra yield in new pro-growth economic schemes and infrastructure projects, chancellor George Osborne announced in his Budget. The pilot schemes will be open to other councils too. “Our ambition for a truly national recovery is not limited to building a Northern Powerhouse,” said Mr Osborne. “We back in full the long term economic plans we have for every region.”

The Times, Page: 8   The Guardian, Page: 7


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This Service was produced by Early Morning Media.    Email:   Phone: 0207 186 1060

Registered in England No: 06719248      Registered Address; 27 High Street, Ewell, Epsom KT17 1SD


UK Taxation – update on 19th March 2015


The personal allowance against Income from the UK for citizens resident abroad.

shutterstock_142665559HMRC had proposed that the personal allowance for non-residents should be abolished.

I am reliably informed that this idea has been shelved.

G. Osborne stated so in the Autumn financial statement.

This does not mean that it may not be reviewed by the next Government after May.

The P.A. is at £10,600. The Chancellor has said that it will rise to £11,000 in two years.

Many British pensioners abroad receive income from sources such as…

  • Rents from a house they have retained, perhaps for an eventual return to the UK.
  • Bank and Building Society deposits.
  • Investments elsewhere in the UK.
  • Some persons earn income from activities across borders and earn a small income from the UK as well as elsewhere.

The Chartered Institute of Taxation argued strongly against any change. If the personal allowance were abolished many on globally low incomes would be badly hit.

Answer from the EU in reply to the French MEP  M. Franck Proust’s question on the WFP put before the EU Parliament.

The Question  was - A new rule came into force in the United Kingdom recently to change the conditions qualifying people for the social security benefit known as the ‘winter fuel payment’.

Under these new qualifying conditions, the United Kingdom now makes a distinction between different places where beneficiaries reside; in particular, British citizens living in France no longer live in a qualifying country, unlike those living in a number of other EU Member States.

A British resident in my constituency has quite rightly contacted me, therefore, as owing to the fact that he resides in France, he no longer receives this benefit.

Does this change in British legislation comply with EC law?

The answer –The Commission is aware of the amendments to the UK’s Social Fund Winter Fuel Payment Regulations. The regulations will come into force on 21 September 2015. The Commission services are currently analysing the UK legislation in the light of the EC law.

At least they are working on it!  Other correspondents have written to the EU.  A petition to the EU is tabled by our team.

Exit from the EU?

This Guardian article reports the views of Dominic Grieve – a Q.C. and Attorney General from 2010-14 .  He has an independent kind of mind.  He didn’t like the Gay Marriage bill and was sacked from the cabinet (cause?)

His comments have also been reported here

British Citizens can only reside and move without any constraint between countries in the EU because of the treaties between the UK and the EU.  No doubt if the ‘Brexit’  should happen, some adjustments would be made- but not without hassle.  In my view difficulties would arise.

It is quite deplorable that many most affected [Brits in Europe outside the UK.] would have no say in such a development.

by Brian Cave

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