Mark Leftly

Mark Leftly is Associate business editor for The Independent

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Royal Mail returns the criticism to sender

Westminster Outlook Selling shares in a service of national importance was always going to have some unpredictable outcomes. Already, the Government has been accused of undervaluing Royal Mail by about £1bn when it was floated in October, prompting fierce criticism from MPs and the National Audit Office. The Business Secretary Vince Cable and the Conservative sent to keep a close watch on him, Michael Fallon, probably expected those attacks. Harder to anticipate was that they would be the victims of a reverse shareholder spring yesterday at Royal Mail's debut full-year results as a listed business.

Mike Penning
The MoD is under fire over its high consultancy bills

MoD is accused of a 'lack of cost control' after revelation Deloitte was paid £14.8m to advise on reforms

Accountancy firm was hired to help preparations for an overhaul of the military's vast property and land estates

Mark Leftly: Suspend all your disbelief and the drug chiefs' claims are compelling

Westminster Outlook Wow, this must be some sort of personal record for Vince Cable: one of the Business Secretary's many curiously emphatic opinions proved wrong within 48 hours.

Mark Leftly: The reactors are coming but the nuclear inspectors are going

Westminster Outlook We are at the start of the most ambitious civil nuclear programme in this country's history. A generation of state-of-the-art reactors worth at least £60bn will be built across the country, from Hinkley Point in the South-west to Hartlepool in the North-east. Tens of billions more are being spent clearing up radioactive waste at historic, highly hazardous nuclear sites, including Sellafield in Cumbria and Dounreay in the Scottish Highlands. A shame, then, that we're struggling to find enough nuclear inspectors to make sure all this radioactive material is stored safely.

Mark Leftly: The bruiser is right about Britain's productivity gap

Westminster Outlook More news of this column's hero from last week, the maverick Conservative MP for Northampton South, Brian Binley. Done – temporarily – with verbally skewering the ministers and advisers involved with undervaluing Royal Mail by around £1bn when it was privatised in October, the 72-year-old has returned to his greatest concern, the fate of small business.

Mark Leftly: Royal Mail's cheap float and the elephant in the room

Westminster Outlook Back to the Royal Mail and the Business Select Committee on which Mr Binley sits. During last week's mauling of the Business Secretary Vince Cable and his advisers over the postal service's botched flotation, Tory minister Michael Fallon made a little- noticed comment that should have turned the tables on the committee.

BAE Systems under new attack as arms protesters target AGM

Campaigners vow 'a few surprises' will be waiting for the defence giant's board and investors at its annual meeting this week

Keith Simpson on the warpath: Frontrunner for Defence Committee job vows to ensure 'real accountability' at MoD

The Government department has been criticised for budget overruns in recent years

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil