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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.

The Sketch: People as tired as Gordon Brown are usually in hospital

"I shall further have meetings today," the PM said and sat down on Jim Murphy.

Letters: Aid for Afghanistan

Aid millions for Afghanistan end up back in the US

Milburn tells PM: Don't betray Blair

Former health secretary warns party against lurching to the left

Mark Steel: It's almost heartbreaking – these people are so clueless

You can imagine Ed Balls crying out: ‘Let’s get Harriet on Britain’s Got Talent

Brown in bid to get back on front foot

PM to unveil new powers for parents as Labour rushes to condemn Blears

Simon Carr: Brown is in his bunker, with a final, inevitable crisis to come

The PM is divorced from reality. He can no longer see for himself

Cabinet 'rivals' rally to Brown's defence

Senior cabinet figures were desperately rallying around Gordon Brown yesterday, with the two men tipped as favourites to succeed Mr Brown moving to quash rumours that he could be replaced before the next election.

Blears: PM's failure to connect with voters is 'lamentable'

Cabinet minister appears to court the sack with scathing article on Gordon Brown's faltering premiership

MPs will get daily rate for 'clocking-in' at Commons

Brown's plan to replace second-home allowance runs into controversy

When will they learn? The pap who tried to tip off his victims

Emily Dugan talks to photographer Steve Back, who foresaw a Bob Quick-style scandal

Taxpayers pick up tab for inflation-busting expenses

Prime Minister urges speedy review and freezes ministers' pay as inquiry launched after details of Jacqui Smith's claims released

Government shuns Muslim Council over link with Hamas

The Government has severed relations with the country's leading Muslim organisation, saying a senior member is a supporter of Hamas, the Palestinian military organisation.

Labour's secret weapon: A revealing audience with Hazel Blears

She's the 'Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep-Cheep' of the Commons, the ballroom-dancing, motorcycle-riding MP for Salford, and an unabashed fan of New Labour. But does Hazel Blears have what it takes to lead her party? Andy McSmith met her

Cabinet infighting ‘angering Labour activists’

Labour is heading for opposition unless cabinet ministers stop manoeuvring for position, the party’s general election co-ordinator warned last night.

Hazel Blears: You ask the questions

Is this the worst recession for 100 years? And what motorbike should I buy?
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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
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

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From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
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Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
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
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

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