With friends like these, who needs enemies?: Owen Paterson adds to Ukip's pressure on the PM. Photo: Getty
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Pressure builds for David Cameron's EU renegotiation as a former minister calls for UK's exit

A former Tory cabinet secretary is set to call for Britain to leave the EU, putting pressure on the Prime Minister who is preparing his renegotiation.

Owen Paterson, who was mischievous at best as a minister, since being sacked as Environment Secretary in the summer is now a regular thorn in the side for David Cameron. His latest intervention is a speech to eurosceptic business leaders, which will call for Britain to leave the EU and for the Prime Minister to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the rest of Europe instead. He is expected to emphasise to the campaign group, Business for Britain, that the UK can grow economically outside of the European Union.

This intervention comes at a difficult time for David Cameron, who is putting the finishing touches on a big speech about immigration, which he is expected to deliver very soon. What he unveils concerning immigration from the European Union will come under intense scrutiny, due to the rise of Ukip taking votes from his party mainly due to its policy on migration and Britain's place in the EU. Being asked outright by a former minister to take the UK out of the EU, as part of the renegotiation of its EU membership ahead of his promised in/out referendum in 2017, adds to the pressure Ukip is already placing on Cameron and the Conservative party. It is also likely to exacerbate the divisions over Europe in the party that have constantly been bubbling to the surface during this parliament.

The Telegraph reports that Paterson will say:

Our democratic institutions and not just our common law system but our respect and adherence to the rule of law, have been exported around the world. We simply do not need to have our lives ruled by an organisation in which our own elected politicians can be overruled by unelected civil servants and whose concept of government emerged from the horrors of the First World War.

Paterson will also moot an alternative to the UK's EU membership. He will state that his preferred option is for Britain to be like Norway, forging a free-trade agreement with European countries, including access to the single market. This view is held by many of the eurosceptics on Cameron's backbenches, and is something the Prime Minister will have to counter soon, whether it be in his immigration speech or otherwise.

Following the Tory defeat at the Rochester and Strood by-election last Friday, Ukip is continuing to make life difficult for a Prime Minister who cannot, and has said he will not, propose to take the country out of the European Union. But with high-profile figures in the Tory party now publicly proposing alternatives to our EU membership, it now seems like a case for Cameron of "with friends like these, who needs enemies?"

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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Inside a shaken city: "I just want to be anywhere that’s not Manchester”

The morning after the bombing of the Manchester Arena has left the city's residents jumpy.

On Tuesday morning, the streets in Manchester city centre were eerily silent.

The commuter hub of Victoria Station - which backs onto the arena - was closed as police combed the area for clues, and despite Mayor Andy Burnham’s line of "business as usual", it looked like people were staying away.

Manchester Arena is the second largest indoor concert venue in Europe. With a capacity crowd of 18,000, on Monday night the venue was packed with young people from around the country - at least 22 of whom will never come home. At around 10.33pm, a suicide bomber detonated his device near the exit. Among the dead was an eight-year-old girl. Many more victims remain in hospital. 

Those Mancunians who were not alerted by the sirens woke to the news of their city's worst terrorist attack. Still, as the day went on, the city’s hubbub soon returned and, by lunchtime, there were shoppers and workers milling around Exchange Square and the town hall.

Tourists snapped images of the Albert Square building in the sunshine, and some even asked police for photographs like any other day.

But throughout the morning there were rumours and speculation about further incidents - the Arndale Centre was closed for a period after 11.40am while swathes of police descended, shutting off the main city centre thoroughfare of Market Street.

Corporation Street - closed off at Exchange Square - was at the centre of the city’s IRA blast. A postbox which survived the 1996 bombing stood in the foreground while officers stood guard, police tape fluttering around cordoned-off spaces.

It’s true that the streets of Manchester have known horror before, but not like this.

I spoke to students Beth and Melissa who were in the bustling centre when they saw people running from two different directions.

They vanished and ducked into River Island, when an alert came over the tannoy, and a staff member herded them through the back door onto the street.

“There were so many police stood outside the Arndale, it was so frightening,” Melissa told me.

“We thought it will be fine, it’ll be safe after last night. There were police everywhere walking in, and we felt like it would be fine.”

Beth said that they had planned a day of shopping, and weren’t put off by the attack.

“We heard about the arena this morning but we decided to come into the city, we were watching it all these morning, but you can’t let this stop you.”

They remembered the 1996 Arndale bombing, but added: “we were too young to really understand”.

And even now they’re older, they still did not really understand what had happened to the city.

“Theres nowhere to go, where’s safe? I just want to go home,” Melissa said. “I just want to be anywhere that’s not Manchester.”

Manchester has seen this sort of thing before - but so long ago that the stunned city dwellers are at a loss. In a city which feels under siege, no one is quite sure how anyone can keep us safe from an unknown threat

“We saw armed police on the streets - there were loads just then," Melissa said. "I trust them to keep us safe.”

But other observers were less comforted by the sign of firearms.

Ben, who I encountered standing outside an office block on Corporation Street watching the police, was not too forthcoming, except to say “They don’t know what they’re looking for, do they?” as I passed.

The spirit of the city is often invoked, and ahead of a vigil tonight in Albert Square, there will be solidarity and strength from the capital of the North.

But the community values which Mancunians hold dear are shaken to the core by what has happened here.

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