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Even the room somewhere in Westminster where the historic meeting was to take place was kept secret until the last minute. Once “C”, Sir John Sawers, and his two colleagues arrived, the Intelligence and Security Committee chairman Sir Malcolm Rifkind announced a time delay on the TV broadcast lest anything endangering national security should be said. Mysteriously, the man sitting immediately behind MI5’s Andrew Parker bore a passing resemblance to Nikita Khrushchev. We were, in short, all keyed up.

Jane Merrick: Miliband – heir to Blair the smiley Emotibot?

Why has the Foreign Secretary challenged the Prime Minister now? And why has the likeliest winner not yet decided to run?

Wyness quits on eve of stadium decision

Everton have been left to contemplate the atrocious timing of their chief executive's resignation, days before a Government ruling which could jeopardise one of the most significant moments in the club's history: their move from Goodison to a new purpose-built stadium at Kirkby.

Brown make prices pledge after defeat

Gordon Brown today vowed to do "whatever is necessary" to help people struggling with rising food and fuel prices in the wake of Labour's catastrophic defeat in the Glasgow East by-election.

Muslim panel to advise on rights and wrongs of veil

The wearing of the Islamic veil will be one of the issues examined by a panel of Islamic experts that is being set up by the Government.

Terence Blacker: We can all see you're conning us, Hazel

In a near-perfect piece of political casting, Hazel Blears has introduced a White Paper on local government, hilariously entitled Communities in Control. Like the smilingly officious primary schoolteacher she occasionally resembles, Ms Blears has patted the electorate on the head and has promised lots and lots of new rules to make things better for everybody.

Tories 'in disarray' at Lewis departure

Labour moved to capitalise on a setback for David Cameron's Conservatives yesterday, claiming the party was in disarray after the resignation of the London Mayor Boris Johnson's deputy, Ray Lewis.

Not in our backyard! A Bill that threatens historic right to protest

More than 60 Labour MPs are threatening to derail plans to weaken people's long-standing right to oppose the building of new nuclear power stations and airport runways in their own "backyards".

Hazel Blears breached rules over data on stolen PC

The Government has suffered yet another embarrassing data loss after a cabinet minister breached its rules by holding confidential information on a personal computer.

Minister's computer stolen

A computer has been stolen from the constituency office of Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, it was revealed today.

Davis forces by-election over 'erosion of freedoms'

The shadow home secretary David Davis shocked Westminster today by announcing that he was resigning as an MP to "take a stand" against the Government's 42-day terror detention plan.

Poll blow to PM

Labour now 17 points behind the Tories as it faces crucial by-election test. Voters suggest Gordon Brown must be dumped if party is to win next election

Dominic Lawson: He appears to have robotic self-discipline. But inside, Brown is a ferment of emotion

It's amazing what robots can do these days. This week a humanoid named Asimo conducted – or appeared to be conducting – the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. It was rather sweet, actually: four foot three inches tall, shiny white (apart from a red Honda logo on its back) – and capable of a courteous bow at the beginning and end of the performance. The audience, and the orchestra itself, seemed to love it.

Michael Brown: It's far worse for Brown than it was for Major

The Labour peer Lord Desai recently compared Gordon Brown's style to "porridge – maybe haggis". The question is whether the Prime Minister is now toast. With Frank Field still – a decade on – "thinking the unthinkable", albeit now with apologies, the mutterings are turning to the once unthinkable option of consigning Mr Brown to the dustbin of history without even giving him the opportunity of facing the electorate.

Alan Watkins: Mr Brown is running out of friends

David Cameron is starting to look like a future prime minister, while the current occupant of No 10 is short of ideas and allies

Britain's new national sport: Taking pot shots at Brown

He is facing abuse, plots and damaging revelations. What a time, then, for the beleaguered premier to face the voters. Jane Merrick and Brian Brady report
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