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Summary

  1. Foreign secretary says apologists for those who commit acts of terrorism are partly responsible
  2. Justine Miliband tells BBC she expects election to get 'vicious' but says she is' ready for the fight'
  3. Peers back making it a legal requirement for 0.7% of UK GDP to be spent on international development
  4. Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers fly to the US as question marks hang over assembly
  5. Rolling political coverage in text and video with all the key moments and reaction from Tuesday 10 March
  6. There are 58 days until the general election

Live Reporting

By Tim Fenton and Sarah Weaver

All times stated are UK

Get involved

The day in brief

It's been another busy day in politics with perhaps a bit more agreement between the parties than is often the case, plus the first of what is likely to become a succession of Westminster farewells

  • Foreign secretary Philip Hammond defended Britain's security forces and said that "apologists" for terrorists were partly to blame for resulting violence. He also warned of Russia's "aggressive behaviour"
  • 90% of the 120,000 troubled families targeted by the government have "had their lives turned around", according to communities secretary Eric Pickles. Labour said it would continue the programme, if elected in May
  • Relatives of the three London schoolgirls believed to have gone to Syria to join Islamic State told MPs that if a letter from police had come direct to the families they might have been able to stop the girls going. Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said he was "sorry" the letter had not got through
  • MPs will vote tomorrow on plans to introduced standardised packaging for cigarettes. The government and opposition back the plan but some Conservative backbenchers are opposed
  • Labour leader Ed Miliband's wife Justine gave her first TV interview to the BBC. She said she was expecting the election campaign to get "really vicious" but that she was "up for the fight"
  • And Gordon Brown made what may be his final speech in the Commons. Calling for Britain to play a leading role in Europe, the former prime minister said leaving would be a "betrayal of our history and future"

Hodge 'nothing short of vile'

The BBC has seen a letter from senior Conservative MP Sir Alan Duncan to Margaret Hodge, accusing her of "inappropriate grandstanding" and being "nothing short of vile" in her questioning of BBC Trust chairman Rona Fairhead in the public accounts committee session this week.

Sir Alan, a former international development minister, calls on Mrs Hodge to apologise to both Ms Fairhead and Stuart Gulliver, the chief executive of HSBC.

He also writes that many professional people are "in despair" at the "cheap haranguing which characterise your manner as chair of the PAC".

George Eaton, New Statesman political editor

‏‏@georgeeaton

Tweets: Three Tory poll leads in a row with @YouGov (1, 4 and 2 tonight). Looks like a genuine shift.

The i front page

The i front page
Independent newspapers

The Independent front page

The Independent front page
Independent

Clarke on defence budgets

Former Chancellor Ken Clarke has also entered the debate on defence spending, telling the BBC it does not matter if budgets slips below the 2% Nato target for one year. He told Newsnight the UK was committed to meeting the target but ministers could not "hand the money out" without some flexibility as this would be a recipe for waste in procurement and equipment programmes. The current murmurings from former generals were exactly what you would expect in the run-up to the election, he adds.

Budgets 'don't matter' to elections

Ken Clarke MP
BBC

Ken Clarke has told Newsnight that: "No budget before an election has actually made a difference to an election outcome in living memory."

The former chancellor went on to say his advice to George Osborne when he delivers his budget would be to give the impression of a steady hand on the tiller rather than any giveaways, saying: "The public are not silly, they're not going to expect you to shower them with money."

Britain's status on world stage

Bernard Jenkin MP
BBC

Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin has responded to warnings about the implications of defence cuts to Britain's place on the world stage. Asked by Evan Davis on Newsnight what Britain's world role should be, he said: "The answer is 'we can therefore we must.'

"There are very, very few countries with the influence and reach that we have. There are very few countries with the extent of interests that we have."

He went on: "If we vacate this place on the world stage, the question is, who will fill it? Who will fill that vacuum that we leave?"

Sun front page

Sun front page
Sun

Times front page

Times front page
Times

Army 'hollowed out' by cuts

General Sir Peter Wall
BBC

General Sir Peter Wall has warned that further defence cuts would mean that, by 2020 the army will be less resilient.

The former chief of the general staff told Newsnight: "It [the armed forces] will either get hollowed out and become less resilient, or be cut, or a bit of both, depending on the scale of any reductions. Probably compounded by things like what defence inflation turns out to be."

Sun/YouGov poll

@SunPolitics

tweets: YouGov/Sun poll tonight - Tories ahead by two: CON 33%, LAB 31%, LD 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%

Daily Mirror front page

Daily Mirror front page
Mirror

Jeremy Clarkson, Top Gear presenter

‏@JeremyClarkson

Tweets: Sorry Ed. It seems I knocked your "I'm a human" piece down the news agenda.

Guardian front page

Guardian front page
Guardian

Daily Mail front page

Daily Mail front page
Daily Mail

Daily Express front page

Daily Express front page
Daily Express

Daily Star front page

Daily Star front page
Northern and Shell

FT front page

FT front page
FT

Telegraph front page

Telegraph front page
Telegraph

The Metro front page

Metro front page
Metro

'Sacked' UKIP spokesperson 'had a good run'

The Daily Mail

Winston MacKenzie
BBC

The Mail is

reporting that UKIP spokesperson Winston MacKenzie has been sacked from the party.

Mr MacKenzie told the paper: "I've had a very good run and thought I was doing pretty well with it, but bigger people than me have been moved around jobs. You look at the Tory party and Michael Gove. He was doing a fantastic job as education secretary and was moved on. It's a bit of a shock to the system."

Mr MacKenzie previously compared Nigel Farage to Jesus. He appeared on Newsnight to defend

Mike Reid's UKIP Calypso.

The Kensington constituency

The Kensington Conservative nomination fell vacant when the current MP, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, decided not to stand again after he was secretly filmed apparently offering his services to a private firm for cash. He referred himself to Parliament's standards watchdog and denied breaching Commons rules but said he would not be seeking a further term to "end uncertainty". Sir Malcolm had a majority of over eight thousand.

Laura Kuenssberg, Newsnight

@bbclaurak

Tweets: For those as nerdy as me to care deeply about PPCs, Kensington tory shortlist is Shaun Bailey, Charlotte Vere, and Victoria Borwick

Toby Young

@toadmeister

tweets: Congratulations to @ShaunBaileyUK for making the Kensington shortlist. He'd be an excellent MP

More on Kensington candidates

Charlotte Vere stood for the Conservatives party in 2010 in Brighton Pavilion, coming a close third against Caroline Lucas and the Labour candidate Nancy Platts. Ms Vere is a former CEO of Big White Wall and is currently acting general secretary of the Independent Schools Council.

Shaun Bailey has previously advised the Prime Minister on youth and crime. He stood in 2010 in Hammersmith but came second to Labour's Andy Slaughter. The Telegraph reported that Mr Bailey lost his job in Downing Street because he asked awkward questions and felt pushed out by a clique of old Etonians.

Victoria Borwick is currently a Deputy Mayor of London and London-wide Assembly member and a former councillor for Kensington and Chelsea.

Con candidates for Kensington

The Conservatives have named a shortlist of three for Kensington:

Charlotte Vere

Shaun Bailey

Victoria Borwick

The winning candidate will be chosen at a special general meeting on Friday.

Tory case for referendum

House of Commons

Parliament

Matthew Hancock MP
BBC

Concluding the adjournment debate, Mr Hancock said his party would: "stand up for businesses on red tape, for exporters on free trade, for industry on the free movement of capital and we'll restore fairness to the free movement of people for work rather than benefits and, before the end of 2017, we will put that reformed Europe to the British people in a referendum so that they may decide on our future".

Cigarette vote

House of Commons

Parliament

Image of plain cigarette package
PA

There was a important moment of procedure in the Commons about an hour ago, although it passed in the blink of an eye. MPs were asked to approve a change to regulations authorising the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes in England. However, a number objected and, as a result, there will be what is known as a deferred division tomorrow. MPs will be asked to vote for or against the change by filling in a slip included in their Commons order papers. The result should be known some time on Wednesday afternoon. The government backs the move, as does Labour, but a number of Conservative MPs have said they are opposed.

Mark Reckless, UKIP MP for Rochester and Strood

‏@MarkReckless

Tweets: Alas Gordon Brown in lecture mode refuses to give way to any questioning of his bonkers view that UK out of EU would become like North Korea

James Chapman, Daily Mail political editor

@jameschappers

Tweets: Agree with @JGForsyth: poor show for shadow Cabinet not to turn up for Gordon Brown's final Commons appearance

James Forsyth, Spectator political editor

@JGForsyth

Tweets: If Matt Hancock can pay tribute 2 Gordon Brown on what may be his last Commons appearance, surely some of the shad Cab could have turned up?

'Odd' to oppose referendum

House of Commons

Parliament

Mr Hancock thought it was odd that Mr Brown was arguing against a referendum on Europe. He had been a champion of the referendum to give Scotland its Parliament and he had spoken movingly in the referendum to keep Scotland a part of the United Kingdom. But "he stands steadfast against giving the people of the UK a debate and a vote on our membership of the EU." The UK needed that debate and vote because no one could be happy with the status quo. The whole of Europe needed to work better and Britain needed to resolve its relationship with it once and for all.

Hancock speculates on Brown's valediction

House of Commons

Parliament

Business minister Matthew Hancock opened his response to Gordon Brown in tonight's adjournment debate by speculating that this may be former PM's final speech in the Commons.

Mr Hancock said: "It falls to me to respond for the government on this historic occasion of what may be the last speech in this House by the right honourable member for Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath"

Mr Brown made no move to confirm this, but simply smiled from the benches opposite.

Back to school for Miliband

James Landale

Deputy Political Editor, BBC News

James Landale speaking to Ed Miliband and Chris Dunne at Haverstock Comprehensive
BBC

The focus of the day that the BBC's James Landale spent with Ed Miliband has been on the rare interview he got with the Labour leader's wife Justine. But the two men also went back to Mr Miliband's former school in north London, where they met one of his old teachers Chris Dunne. Ed Miliband says his time at Haverstock comprehensive "toughened him up" and taught him to "look after himself".

Brown: I leave this House

House of Commons

Parliament

Mr Brown said: "I stand for Britain in Europe. Because, just as I came into this House believing in Britain, I leave this House believing in a Britain which can lead in Europe."

Brown acknowledges 'strength of anti-European sentiment'

House of Commons

Parliament

Gordon Brown MP
BBC

Gordon Brown has defended Britain's membership of Europe in tonight's adjournment debate.

He told the Commons: "I acknowledge the strength of anti-European sentiment in the country and I believe passionately that there is no way forward for Europe other than reform"

But he went on to warn against "indulging the delusion of discounting the three million jobs" connected to trade with Europe.

Brown: Britain 'no heckling bystander'

House of Commons

Parliament

Gordon Brown is defending Britain's membership of the EU in tonight's adjournment debate on trade with Europe.

The former PM told the Commons: "The question for Britain is never whether we are in Europe but whether we lead it."

He went on: "Our destiny is never to be a bit player or bystander heckling from the wings."

Gordon Brown on Europe

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs have just started their last business of the day. Gordon Brown is leading a debate on proposed reforms to trading relationships with Europe. Mr Brown is not standing at the election and this could be his final speech in the Commons.

Mike Smithson, politicalbetting.com

@MSmithsonPB

tweets: Betfair Sportsbook inevitably making the debates odds on favourite as EdM's 1st at tomorrow's PMQs.