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Summary

  1. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says the UK and Russia will continue to have a "prickly relationship" if there is no clear change in Vladimir Putin's intentions towards Ukraine
  2. Mr Hammond refuses to commit to meeting Nato's target of 2% of GDP being spent on defence if the Conservatives win in May
  3. Ed Miliband says he would pass a law guaranteeing TV debates in all future general elections
  4. Labour candidate Lesley Brennan turns down a £1,000 donation to her campaign from Tony Blair
  5. Reports suggest the government is considering banning radical Islamists from working unsupervised with children
  6. There are 60 days until the general election

Live Reporting

By Nick Eardley and Victoria King

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Recap

That's your lot from the Politics Live team today. It's been another busy Sunday - here's a look back at what's happened:

  • Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond
    told the Andrew Marr show the UK and Russia will continue to have a "prickly relationship", with no clear signs Vladimir Putin will alter his intentions in Ukraine
  • Mr Hammond
    refused to commit his party to spending 2% of GDP on defence in the next Parliament
  • Ed Miliband
    said a Labour government would legislate to ensure TV debates become a permanent feature of general elections
  • A Labour candidate
    announced she would not be accepting a £1,000 donation from former prime minister Tony Blair
  • The Telegraph reported a new government anti-extremism strategy
    may include measures to ban radical Islamists from working unsupervised with children

We're back tomorrow morning for all the latest political news and analysis. See you then.

Gerry Adams predicts

Gerry Adams
PA

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has said it's unlikely he will be Taoiseach (head of the Irish government) next year - despite predicting his party will be in power on both sides of the Irish border. He vowed he would not "prop up" an administration led by Fine Gael or Fianna Fail in the Republic. "I don't think I'm going to be Taoiseach next year... it's up to the people," he told RTE's The Week in Politics. "But I do think we are going to be in government in both states on the island."

Cigarette packaging

On Monday, Mark D'Arcy says the number one Commons event may well take place outside the main chamber. The statutory instrument to bring in standardised packaging for cigarettes - highly controversial among Conservative MPs - is due to be considered by a committee. Our correspondent says we can expect protests that it is not being considered on the floor of the Commons. Indeed, Sir Gerald Howarth MP said as much to Sky News earlier today.

Commons swansong

The BBC's parliamentary correspondent Mark D'Arcy has done

his usual look-ahead to what's coming up this week. Among the bills and barracking, he says we're likely to see the final Commons speeches of two of the biggest political names of recent years - Gordon Brown and Jack Straw.

Telegraph Politics

@TelePolitics

tweets: Nicky Morgan: Tristram Hunt called me 'love' during debate
Read more

Kenny Farquharson, deputy editor of the Scotsman

@KennyFarq

tweets: Miliband would be daft to start talking about a post-election deal with the SNP.
Today's SoS leader column.

Welsh funding debate

Welsh Assembly
PA

Away from Westminster politics, the Welsh finance minister has been discussing the funding deal offered to the Welsh Assembly by the coalition. Jane Hutt says the settlement offered by David Cameron does not provide enough certainty for public spending. The PM wants the Welsh government to raise some of its budget through taxes. You can read more

here.

Your say

Politics Live readers have been getting in touch with their views on the TV debates. Here are some of your comments.

Am I the only person in the UK seriously concerned that after May we could end up with a government in Westminster that has the support of only 20% (30% of a 60% turnout)? Yet the issue of the day would appear to be TV debates.

We have a voting system that came out of the ark yet politicians continue to refuse to propose real reform.

David McKay

Really struggling to see the relevance of the whole debate issue:

1) The modern politician doesn't debate or even answer questions so what does a "debate" add.

2) We see/hear enough of all the politicians without adding more time for them to tell us exactly what they told us yesterday and the same thing that they're going to tell us tomorrow.

3) I think we all take everything that politicians of all persuasions say with so much salt these days that its almost pointless listening to them at all.

Frankly I'd vote for seeing less of our politicians on our TV screen not more. Judge them by their actions not by their words.

Keith Hough

Do you agree. Let us know your thoughts by emailing politics@bbc.co.uk

Turing's Law

Sky News

Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail columnist, tells Sky News he isn't in the least bit impressed with Ed Miliband's

plan for a Turing's Law, which would give posthumous pardons to gay men who were convicted under the now repealed indecency laws. "It's just so cynical isn't it. What's the point? What does it do for the people involved?" he asks.

Sir Menzies Campbell on defence

Menzies Campbell
BBC

Former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell has been discussing defence spending and whether a 2% of GDP target will be met over the next Parliament. Sir Menzies, a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee, said: "If ever there was a time to put party differences aside on defence, it is now.

"I would support an agreement between the three main parties to commit to the maintenance of the UK defence budget at the Nato target of 2% of GDP."

He suggested that other European nations would also have to increase their defence spending to meet their Nato obligations. "Europe has dined out on the overgenerous contribution to its defence by the USA. We can't expect that to go on forever," he said.

"It's time to recognise our own responsibilities."

Bear Grylls' PM plans

The Independent

Adventurer Bear Grylls is the latest person to contribute to the Independent's "If I were Prime Minister" series. My colleague Victoria is a fan. In his piece, Bear says he would champion young people and try to build stronger communities. And he says he would hold cabinet meetings at Snowdon and Ben Nevis. More

here.

TV debates

The Daily Mail

David Cameron's refusal to take part in more than one TV debate has been driven by Conservative campaign director Lynton Crosby, according to James Forsyth. He writes over at the Daily Mail that the party is "desperate" for the debates not to go ahead. Mr Crosby, Forsyth writes, has told colleagues "not to be fazed" by media interest in the debates. More

here.

Question dodging?

The Spectator

Caroline Flint
PA

Anyone who was watching our coverage earlier will have noticed a couple of guests on the Andrew Marr show were less than forthcoming with straight answers. Philip Hammond wasn't keen to say whether his party would guarantee 2% of GDP would be spent on defence over the next Parliament, while Caroline Flint didn't want to say whether Labour would go into coalition with the SNP.

Over on the Spectator, Isabel Hardman looks at their performances. Both, she says, "did very well because they didn't give anything away that they didn't want to". But that isn't necessarily a good thing for politics the long-run, she adds. More

here.

MPs to debate the debates

MPs are to be given the chance to discuss the TV debates. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) - which has not been invited - has tabled a motion for Wednesday. DUP leader Nigel Dodds said: "In future, we need to follow the example of the US and have an independent commission arrange any such debates. Too many politicians and broadcasters can't be trusted to put their own self-interest aside and put that of the voters first.

"This is why I've decided to give my fellow MPs in Parliament the chance to discuss this matter there.

"Any TV debates that happen have to be for the benefit of the people who watch them, not the people who take part in them or broadcast them."

Can Scottish Labour be saved?

The Scotsman

There has been much discussion of Labour's position in Scotland recently, with polls suggesting the party could be heading for a near wipe-out on 7 May. Scotland on Sunday political editor Tom Peterkin has been taking a look at what the party could do to prevent a disaster. He feels Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy might be key: "Much faith has been invested in Murphy in the belief that he has the dynamism to inject some genuine leadership into a rudderless organisation." More

here.

Sex consent lessons

Children are to be taught about sexual consent from the age of 11 under new government plans. The classes will give young people "better understanding of the society around them", the government says, allowing them to "make informed choices and stay safe". Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, said there were "unimaginable pressures" for young people growing up today. More

here.

David Hughes, political reporter at the Press Association

@DavidHughesPA

tweets: MPs will debate the debates on Wednesday thanks to a @duponline opposition day motion.

What's the election actually about?

The Daily Telegraph

Does anyone know what this election is really about? That's the question Janet Daley has been asking over at the Telegraph. She says, despite being bombarded with party propaganda, she has no idea what is at the heart of the contest. More

here.

Lidl man?

The Sun

Are you a member of Lidl Britain? We've seen voters defined by where they live - remember Essex man - but now,

according to the Sun, they're defined by where they shop. The paper claims Labour and the Conservatives are currently neck and neck in the race to win over the "key demographic" that is the Lidl shopper.

'No-show prime minister'

The Guardian

"The Tories wanted to make this election turn on the character of the Labour leader. [The debates row] has made the issue the character of David Cameron," writes Andrew Rawnsley, in the Guardian. He sys the PM has shown himself to be a man who "hates exposing himself to attack", but also one who is "extremely stubborn about changing his mind". "To surrender now would make him look weak. Yet he will no less hate being defined as the no-show prime minister."

'No war'

Alan Soady

BBC political correspondent

The Treasury and No 10 have denied a report in today's Mail on Sunday which claims that the two sides are "at war" over future defence spending.

A joint spokesman for the PM and the chancellor said: "This is untrue and without foundation. The PM, chancellor and government agree future defence spending is a matter for the spending review."

Sam Lister, Press Association political correspondent

@sam_lister_

tweets: "Parking its tanks on Labour's lawn"- UKIP is opening a Doncaster base. Interesting to see what reception they'll get

Jack Sommers, reporter @HuffPostUK.

@jack_sommers

tweets: SNP challenges other 4 Scottish Labour candidates who received Blair donation to reject it
Read more.

'No chance to de-muppetise'

Sunday Times

"The prime minister won't say it in these terms but he doesn't want debates at a time when he thinks they might affect how people vote. Others might consider that to be the whole point." So

writes Adam Boulton, from Sky News, in the Sunday Times. And of the Conservatives' view of the debates more generally? "In the colourful word coined by one interested observer, they want to deny Miliband any chance to de-muppetise himself."

Tobacco packaging

Sky News

In reply, Luciana Berger, shadow public health minister, said the plan was for "standardised packaging", not plain packaging, and the former could still be tracked and traced to thwart counterfeiters.

Tobacco packaging

Sky News

Away from debates and defence, a ding dong on has been going on between Conservative MP Sir Gerald Howarth and Labour's Luciana Berger about the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes. Sir Gerald said Chinese counterfeiters would be "rubbing their hands in glee at the move", and fraud would inevitably hit the public purse due to lost tax revenue.

As for the idea itself, well, that was unnecessary anyway, he said: "If children and adults cannot read on packaging today... 'smoking kills'... then there is something wrong with the education system."

Labour candidate rejects Blair money

Lesley Brennan
BBC

As we reported earlier, a Labour parliamentary candidate has

tweeted she has rejected a £1,000 donation from former party leader and prime minister Tony Blair. Lesley Brennan, who is standing in Dundee East against SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie, said she had discussed the issue with her team and decided not to take the cash. It has been reported Mr Blair gave 106 candidates the sum to help their election campaigns. More
here.

Sturgeon on equality

The Scotsman

Marking International Women's Day, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the "time is right" to use targets to ensure more women make it into boardrooms in both the public and private sector. The SNP leader says the "glacial progress in some areas of life" illustrates efforts to promote women on merit are not working.

Read more in Scotland on Sunday.

Philip Hammond on defence

Philip Hammond
PA

Defence - and whether or not the Tories will commit to spending 2% of GDP on it over the course of the next Parliament - has been a talking point over the last few days. As we mentioned earlier, Andrew Marr asked Philip Hammond about the issue earlier. He promised there will be no "further cuts to our regular armed forces" under David Cameron's leadership. But he said "very difficult decisions" on deficit reduction would have to be made. Watch his interview and read more

here.

TV debates

Harriet Harman
PA

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman has been speaking about the TV debates, saying David Cameron should "have the guts" to take part.

Speaking on Sky News' Murnaghan, she said: "Let's have a legal framework set out and then we won't have this all over again next time round.

"I think if somebody is saying I want to be prime minister, I want to be in Number 10 Downing Street, but by the way I'm not going to go out there and debate it, it's not acceptable.

And she added: "The bottom line is - it is not too late for David Cameron... he should have the guts to go out there and say, this is what I have done since I have been prime minister and this is what I want to do next."

Sadiq Khan on Trident

Sadiq Khan
BBC

A bit more on Sadiq Khan's interview with John Pienaar earlier. They discussed Labour's position on Trident in light of reports Ed Miliband's senior adviser, Stewart Wood, wants to ditch the party's support for renewing Britain's Trident nuclear submarine programme.

Asked if he could promise Labour would stick to a pledge to renew Trident, Mr Khan said: "I can and I do. And you'll see the manifesto published shortly which will say that. What we can't do, is respond to every single newspaper article, respond to everything coming out of the number 10 tactical unit. And actually what we want to do is talk about the issues."

Emily Thornberry interview

The Guardian

Emily Thornberry
PA

Emily Thornberry - of White Van row fame - has been speaking to the Guardian about International Women's Day. The former former shadow attorney general tells the paper a lot of women find the atmosphere in Parliament "quite shocking". "Some of the comments you get are just, you think, Neanderthal really", the MP adds. You can read the full interview

here.

Margaret Curran interview

Labour's shadow Scottish secretary and Glasgow MP Margaret Curran was on Sunday Politics earlier and was asked about whether her she would rule out a deal with the SNP in the event of a hung parliament. She didn't. You can watch the exchange with Andrew Neil

here.

Tim Farron, Lib Dem president

@timfarron

tweets: On International Women's Day I reaffirm my party's position that women's rights & human rights are at the centre of what we are & what we do

'Tax giveaway'

George Osborne on Budget Day 2014
Getty Images

Is the coalition preparing an "income tax giveaway" for millions of voters? According to the Sunday Times this morning, the Conservatives and Lib Dems are working on a deal that would see the minimum income tax threshold rise "towards £11,000" from next year. The move could be included in next month's Budget. More

here.

Defence spending

Sunday Politics

On defence spending, Liz Truss says her party is committed to maintaining the size of the Army. But, despite a good grilling by Andrew Neil, as with Philip Hammond earlier, she won't commit to her party to spending 2% of GDP on defence in the next Parliament.

PoliticsHome

@politicshome

tweets: @trussliz - "if there is going to be 1 debate it ought to be with all 7 parties so the British public can see their choice in full" #bbcsp

TV debates

Sunday Politics

Liz Truss says the key issue is the "short campaign" - after 30 March. We haven't had the proposals on time, she insists - broadcasters should had come forward with their ideas earlier.

TV debates

Sunday Politics

Janan Ganesh, from the Financial Times, says David Cameron might be not be as damaged by an "empty chair" as people make out. He thinks most voters won't prioritise the issue when it comes to deciding who they will vote for.

Iain Dale, presenter of @LBC Drive

@IainDale

tweets: So Liz Truss reckons debates would be a huge distraction from the issues. Jesus wept. What does she think an election campaign is about?