News

What with being the first contestant to be voted out of the Big Brother house, not to mention facing ongoing calls to be burned at the stake by the Daily Mail, it's proved a fraught few days for Speaker's wife Sally Bercow. So, amid these troubled times, what could be more welcome than the sight of her very own knight in shining armour triumphantly emerging over the horizon with the express intention of putting Sally's numerous enemies to the sword? "Pray, who could this valiant warrior be?" I hear you ask. "Why, I think it's our favourite Estonian and glamour model-botherer Lembit 'Lancelot' Opik!" Oh! comes the admittedly deflated reply. Still, it's a bank holiday and Hugh Grant didn't have the decency to return my (numerous) calls. "There's a difference between having depth and being a celebrity," declares Lembit, himself a reality television reject of note. "Sally has something to say. I supported her decision to go on the programme. My advice to Sally would now be to pursue any libel actions." Her weary other Senor Bercow would be wise to keep the impressionable Sally away from this man's mysterious charms.

Birmingham Diary: Save the bulls,whales, stags, hares, and even the foxes

There is a meeting on the fringe of the conference this morning which is fated to be sparsely attended, and not just because it is at 8am. It will be gathering of Conservatives Against Fox Hunting. Yes, that word is "against".

Sarah Sands: Threadbare is the classiest look of all

The PM's shabby socks signal his fine lineage

MPs should pay us as employees, say Parliament's revolting interns

For politically-minded graduates struggling to find their first job, a stint working for an MP has often served as a popular, if unprofitable, way to top up their CVs.

Labour to sabotage vote reform Bill in bid to subvert Coalition

Labour is drawing up plans to sabotage the Bill proposing a referendum on the voting system during its passage through the House of Lords.

Michael Brown: Coalition loyalty beats party loyalty

If the Tory-Lib Dem partnership achieves its economic objectives, it is hard to see its architects separating for the sake of an artificial general election dogfight

Leading article: There is no case for delay over electoral reform

Opponents of the referendum on electoral reform continue to clutch at straws. As Parliament broke up for the summer recess yesterday, 44 Conservative MPs signed a motion arguing that the referendum should not be held on the same day as elections next May in Scotland, Wales and in parts of England. The dissenters claim the combination could distort the result of the poll on the Alternative Vote.

Leading article: Mavericks rock the boat

This newspaper was clear what it wanted at the general election. We thought that Gordon Brown had got the central economic judgements right. We thought that there was a progressive consensus between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, not just on the economy but on many social issues and on voting reform. So we advocated tactical voting for whichever party was best placed to keep the number of Conservative seats down.

David Davis criticises 'Brokeback' coalition

David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, has described the partnership between David Cameron and Nick Clegg as the "Brokeback coalition", it was reported last night.

Tory backbenchers oppose election delay proposals

The Government faces a second Tory backbench revolt over plans to change the rules to delay a general election if the Liberal-Conservative coalition collapses.

The Sketch: Miliband turns cartoon villain as things get a bit too close for comfort

The clue was in the personnel – the judge and the members of the torture inquiry team. None are temperamentally inclined to cause trouble; all would be sympathetic to the idea that security officers do a dangerous, self-sacrificing job. In the House, only Mark Durkan declined to join in "the canonisation of the security services". David Winnick sang a line to that. But Cameron is master and commander of the security services and he is therefore in their power.

Plan to allow coalition to cling to power scrapped

Clegg confirms 5 May referendum on electoral reform

Tories quick to come out against voting reform

David Cameron and Nick Clegg were hit by a rebellion yesterday over their plan to hold a referendum on the voting system next May on the same day as elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh assembly and English councils.

Landlords 'considering selling up over capital gains tax hike'

A quarter of landlords claim they are considering quitting the buy-to-let sector ahead of the new Government's planned hike in capital gains tax, research showed today.

Cameron reconsiders capital gains increase to placate Tory right

The unity of the coalition Government was under strain last night after David Cameron hinted at a compromise with his Tory critics over the adoption of Liberal Democrat tax-raising plans.

First cracks in coalition as Tories query Europe and vote reform policies

A day after the love-in between David Cameron and Nick Clegg, the new coalition government came down to earth yesterday as Conservative MPs expressed doubts that the partnership would last.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable