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Late in PM’s Questions the (very) right-wing Tory backbencher Peter Bone rose to deliver his magisterial verdict on Nick Clegg’s substitution for the absent David Cameron. “Hasn’t the acting Prime Minister been outstanding today?” he asked, adding that “anyone listening on the radio” would have thought it was Cameron himself. (This wasn’t a huge compliment since Bone is hardly the PM’s greatest fan). But then the only half-sarcastic pay-off: “I think that the Right Hon Gentleman is turning into a Tory.”

Osborne appoints critic to top job at Treasury watchdog

The Chancellor has recruited one of his most trenchant critics to head the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) – the Treasury watchdog responsible for economic forecasts.

Labour votes on reserving half Shadow Cabinet seats for women

Half of the seats in Labour's Shadow Cabinet could be reserved for women under proposals to be voted on by Labour MPs today.

Labour challenged over spending

The Treasury minister Danny Alexander is to challenge Labour to spell out where it would cut public spending, as he claims the only coherent economic policy put forward by the opposition is in Tony Blair's book – and it backs the coalition.

All the Globe's a stage – even for women writers

As Shakespeare's theatre opens its doors today for the first time to a play by a female writer, Rachel Shields reports on a wider theatrical revolution

Osborne's Budget may have breached equality law

The coalition Government faces the embarrassing prospect of being rebuked by the equalities watchdog over whether its planned spending cuts are "unfair" on groups such as women, the disabled and ethnic minorities.

Pope's UK visit schedule to contain nap breaks

Organisers of the Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain have arranged slots in the Pope’s itinerary to allow him to take a nap.

Sound and fury, but little dynamite so far in the Mandelson memoirs

In April 2008, Lord Mandelson began gathering material for his memoirs. After trawling through his private papers, he was almost breathless with excitement as he told friends: "It's a goldmine. You can't imagine what I have found."

Mandelson memoir sparks Labour Party infighting

Senior Labour figures pleaded for calm yesterday as the imminent publication of Peter Mandelson's memoirs, The Third Man, provoked a fresh round of party infighting.

John Bercow: 'We need reform. Too bad if it disturbs people's lunch'

A year on from his appointment as Speaker, John Bercow tells Steve Richards why he is determined to change the culture of the House – starting with Prime Minister's Questions

Families face tax-credit crisis again

The Budget contains hidden hardships for poorer families, writes Alison Shepherd

Terence Blacker: We won't be nagged any more

Half-close your eyes, apply a bit of imagination, and you will see a startling resemblance between Harriet Harman, acting leader of the Labour Party, and Mary Portas, the TV bossyboots who likes to be known as "Mary Queen of Shops". Both have brutalist hairstyles. Both have mouths which seem to have been shaped by years of saying the word "inappropriate" at regular intervals. Both convey, in their every word and gesture, the conviction that not only do they have the answer to life's problems but that it is their duty to persuade the rest of us to be like them. Both suddenly seem to belong to a dying age. It is the twilight of the nanny.

The Sketch: Admirer or despiser, it all depends on what matches your shoes

In the dealings of the Axeman and the Taxman we also need a Paxman – someone to tell us in fact what we remember we think we were told.

John Rentoul: Beneath the bluster, she had a point

Harman was not going to convince anyone - fair-minded centrists or wavering Liberal Democrats, with such a partisan attack

David Cameron not being 'straight' on Budget, says Harriet Harman

Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman clashed angrily with the Prime Minister today over the effect of the emergency Budget on pensioners and families.

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