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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:

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.

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

Pint-sized assassin with Brown in her sights

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

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.

Disarray in Downing Street

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

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

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.

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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
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Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

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A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before