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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.

Brown: I’m going nowhere

On an extraordinary day when he lost six ministers, frantically reshuffled his Cabinet, took a pounding in the council elections, and stood accused of sexism by Caroline Flint, Gordon Brown says he's going nowhere

BNP wins Lancashire council seat

The BNP today won its first county council seat in Lancashire in the party's stronghold of Burnley as Labour faced a routing in the town's local elections.

Blow for Brown as another minister quits

Prime Minister Gordon Brown was put under further pressure to step down tonight as Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell dramatically announced he was quitting the Cabinet as polls closed in crunch elections.

Brown urged to spare Darling in reshuffle

Gordon Brown was tonight facing calls to spare Chancellor Alistair Darling as he prepared to reshuffle the Cabinet to shore up his tottering premiership.

John Rentoul: I don't know

I haven't commented on Hazel Blears's resignation, because I don't know what she meant by it. All I can do is claim credit for writing this in The Independent on the morning she announced she was going:

Pint-sized assassin with Brown in her sights

Hazel Blears was a loyal team player until her attack on the PM's YouTube appearance

Matthew Norman: We are witnessing a very British form of anarchy

There is only blind panic and frantic plotting by members of a headless party

Fateful encounter that could seal Brown's fate

To lose one cabinet minister is bad luck. To lose two – within 24 hours – is the sort of carelessness that could finish off Gordon Brown's leadership.

Leading article: We'll miss you, Hazel

The resignation of the Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears, was probably only a matter of time in the light of revelations about her flat-buying and tax arrangements. We bid her a regretful farewell nonetheless. One of the first to be exposed in the expenses scandal, she was also among the first to realise how such conduct appeared to the voters and to volunteer to pay money back. If she feels more harshly treated than some of her fellow-ministers, she would not, in our book, be completely wrong.

Disarray in Downing Street

Brown struggles to regain his authority after Government hit by spate of surprise resignations

The Sketch: So why are all these women going? To speculate is human

What's going on? Who knows? Who wants to know? Everything could turn out as everyone thinks or it could easily be the opposite. Cold blooded observers say we could just wait a week and we'd know, but waiting a week is not in our nature. Febrile speculation on the flimsiest information – that's our nature.

John Rentoul: This isn't the start of the coup. Just the pre-convulsions...

I know I shouldn't say this, but Brown could do with some of Blair's baser political skills

Cabinet revolt won't force me out, declares Brown

Prime Minister prepares for an onslaught as Labour suffers some of its worst opinion poll ratings ahead of Thursday's elections

Labour set to suffer a total meltdown in council elections

Fresh allegations about Chancellor's expenses expected as Vince Cable calls for him to resign
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?