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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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Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
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The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing