George Osborne's 'big' Budget

11 Downing Street

"Big. Very Big". That's how one well-placed insider responded when asked to describe tomorrow's Budget.

It ought to be. After all, this is the first Conservative budget in almost 20 years. The last was delivered by Ken Clarke in 1996. It has to deliver promises repeated for so long but yet to be delivered, like the cut to inheritance tax.

It has to fulfil the Tories' stated goals of cutting spending, cutting welfare and cutting tax whilst still claiming to be the "workers' party" pursuing a One Nation "we're all in it together" philosophy.

Pace slowed

And it comes at a time when what politicians love to call "difficult decisions" will never be easier to take.

After all, George Osborne no longer has to haggle with coalition partners, he faces a Labour Party which is still struggling to absorb its defeat and he is once again able to raise the spectre of Greece - "if a country's not in control of its borrowing the borrowing takes control of the country".

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Door to RAF strikes in Syria opens

RAF Tornado GR4 returning to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus after an armed mission against IS forces in Iraq on 30 September 2014
The RAF began strikes against IS targets in Iraq last September

The defence secretary will open the door to RAF airstrikes against terrorist targets in Syria in a speech today.

Michael Fallon will tell MPs that a new parliament should consider afresh the case for attacking the forces of Isis or the so-called Islamic State not just in Iraq but in Syria as well.

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Europe: Cameron accepts treaty delay

David Cameron

The BBC understands that the prime minister has accepted that it may not be possible to change the EU's treaties - the laws on which it is based - before the UK votes in a referendum on whether to stay in or leave the EU.

In recent meetings with fellow European Union leaders David Cameron has argued instead for what officials call an "irreversible lock" and "legally binding" guarantees that at some future date EU law will be changed to accommodate Britain's renegotiation.

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Europe: David Cameron’s gift to fellow EU leaders

David Cameron

When you turn up for dinner it's polite to take a gift but when David Cameron shows up in Brussels tonight he won't be bearing flowers or chocolates.

What he'll hand over to his host to share with the 27 other guests is the "British problem". This is the important moment that it becomes the EU's shared problem.

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Calais chaos – why it scares the prime minister

David Cameron

If looking at the pictures of young men breaking into lorries watched by helpless lorry drivers, worried onlookers and apparently impotent police officers didn't convince you…

If a late night exclusive handed to The Sun last night about a new immigration "enforcement team" didn't do it …

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Benefit cuts - coming soon

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith outside Downing Street
Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne held a meeting with the prime minister last week

"You identify a million people who you'd like to take £1,000 away from and I'll do it."

That's what a former Tory benefits axeman in the 1990s used to tell fellow MPs who urged him to find an easy £1bn cut from the nation's welfare bills.

Read full article Benefit cuts - coming soon

Labour leadership: Missing - a big idea

Labour leadership hustings


Something was very obviously missing from last night's TV debate between the candidates for Labour leader. It was an election-winning 'Big Idea'.

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Balancing the books - do we need a new law?

Why pass a law to force yourself to so something you already intend to do? That was my first reaction to the news that the chancellor plans to legislate to oblige him to run a budget surplus in "normal times" - in other words to raise more in tax than he spends when the economy's not in recession.

So, is this announcement pure politics? After all, George Osborne knows that the first rule of political strategy is to "define your opponent before they can define themselves".

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Charles Kennedy - He left a mark on politics. It left a mark on him

Charles Kennedy

The only UK party leader to warn the country of the perils of invading Iraq when Labour and the Conservatives were uniting to support it.

The only Liberal Democrat MP who could not bring himself to vote to form a coalition with the Conservatives (Source - Alex Carlile).

Read full article Charles Kennedy - He left a mark on politics. It left a mark on him

Queen's Speech - Things can only get tougher

Appearances can be deceptive.

It may be Her Majesty that travels from the Palace to Parliament to deliver it.

Read full article Queen's Speech - Things can only get tougher