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6.30pm Local government: Cumbria now set for Council Tax freeze

6pm WATCH: Osborne: "We need new banks to enter the market to provide consumers and businesses with more choice"

5.15pm Michael Robb on Comment: Vickers banking reforms could make 2012 a very tough year

5pm: Today's teatime newslinks – including the German FM's speech to build bridges with the UK, progress made with the unions over public sector pensions, and Clegg's speech to Demos

5pm WATCH:

4.15pm ToryDiary: David Cameron's Christianity

3.45pm LeftWatch: What are commentators from all sides saying about Ed Miliband's leadership?

3pm WATCH: Nick Clegg: The state should not "encourage the tax system to favour a particular family form"

2.30pm ToryDiary: Downing Street is confident of a public sector pensions deal being reached with the unions

1.30pm JP Floru on Comment: Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong-Il: A tale of two systems

Screen shot 2011-12-19 at 12.44.0912.45pm WATCH: Alistair Darling: The regulatory system on UK banks needs to be much tougher

12.15pm Local government: Green Party councillor defects to Conservatives

Noon ConHomeUSA: Today's top Republican and American political news

ToryDiary: Osborne set to announce historic banking reforms

On our Columnists' page, Bruce Anderson: If we cannot sort the underclass we all deserve to be mugged, robbed and murdered in our beds

Andrea Leadsom MP on Comment: The Prime Minister was right to stand against Brussels, and he might need to again

Local government: 

WATCH: Mandelson: The vetoed EU treaty posed no threat to the UK

Osborne will announce banking reforms today, implementing the Vickers Report "in full" before 2015

Osborne"George Osborne will detail plans today for a wide-ranging overhaul of the structure of Britain's major banks, forcing them to split their high street and investment operations. The aim is to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis when major banks had to be rescued from collapse by a multibillion-pound bailout from the taxpayer. The separation – confirmed yesterday by the Business Secretary, Vince Cable – has been resisted by some of the banks which have claimed the shake-up could cost the sector up to £12bn and warned that the bill could eventually be passed on to customers" - Independent

  • Independent Editorial: 'In bank reform, 'in full' must mean exactly that' - Independent
  • Ben Chu: 'How far and how fast is key to the reforms' - Independent
  • Larry Elliott:'Will Vickers demand banks lift capital ratios just as they need to lend more?' - Guardian
  • Jeff Randall: "While Britain upgrades its sprinkler system, a fireball has already engulfed our neighbours" in Europe - Telegraph
  • The EU says it will not stand in the way of Britain's banking reforms - FT
  • Clegg will warn state-owned banks of "irresponsible" bonus payments - Guardian

> Yesterday WATCH: Cable says John Vickers' recipe for more banking competition will be accepted "in full" (but not quite yet)

As Osborne proceeds with deficit reduction plans, one in 5 Britons fear they will lose their job in the next yearTimes (£)

Britain is expected to contribute £25bn towards a new €urozone bailout fund

"European finance ministers will aim to agree a new €200 billion (£167.7 billion) loan to the International Monetary Fund as part of a deal to save the single currency. Three quarters of the money is expected to come from eurozone members, but Britain will also be asked to provide funds. Figures suggest European Union officials expect British taxpayers to be the second largest contributor. The Prime Minister has repeatedly promised not to provide any extra funding for the IMF for the specific purpose of saving the euro and Britain is already liable for £12 billion of loans and guarantees to Ireland, Greece and Portugal" - Telegraph

BorisThis time next year, the €urozone could be broken up says Boris Johnson, as "hysterical attempts to bubblegum" it together keep failingGuardian

The French aren't really angry with the British, writes Boris, they're cross with the Germans

"The French are really disappointed with Germany; and it is a golden rule of European politics that when France is angry with Germany, Britain gets the blame. That is because a rant against Germany is a very different thing, with a much heavier charge. Sixty-seven years after the war, the French are facing up to the reality that the European experiment has failed to contain German economic might, and that the Germans are unwilling and unable to help other countries cope with the agony of the euro" - Telegraph

  • Wolfgang Munchau: 'UK will fare better in this Anglo-French spat' - FT
  • John Redwood MP: The French and UK deals compared - John Redwood's Diary

Theresa May reflects on the UK riots this Summer, saying that the rights of the majority should be protected

May"In April, during the Royal Wedding, we showed the world the very best aspects of our society. Three months later we showed them the very worst. That is why we shouldn’t accept the rioters’ excuses or allow them to blame others while refusing to accept any responsibility themselves. The looters and  pillagers need to understand they committed serious crimes – only then can we avoid a  repeat of the terrible scenes of last summer.  Yes, we must listen to the rioters but we must also listen to their victims" - Daily Mail

The Home Affairs Select Committee warn that the situation during the Summer riots would have be worsened if the police were able to use water cannons and rubber bullets - Times (£)

A leaked Home Office Report suggests that 4,328 foreign criminals due to be deported remain 'non-detained', still committing crimes - Daily Mail

Cameron pledges his support to providing welfare and support to injured military personnel, setting up a Cabinet Committee to ensure they receive the necessary assistanceSun

The Guardian has obtained a Ministry of Defence document that reveals 700 top posts will be axed in the next three years, and another 335 before 2020 - Guardian

Cameron reiterates his commitment to tax breaks for married couples as Clegg mocks the Tory view of the family as a 'return to the 50s'

Cleggcam"David Cameron renewed his vow to introduce tax breaks for married couples last night despite a ‘puerile’ attack from Nick Clegg accusing the Conservatives of wanting to return to the 1950s. A source close to the Prime Minister told the Daily Mail his commitment was ‘absolutely safe and unchanged’. He said it had always been clear the Coalition partners differed on the issue, with a special provision in their power sharing agreement for the Lib Dems to abstain" - Daily Mail

  • Melanie Phillips describes Clegg's comments as an "absurd caricature of Mr Cameron’s position … all because of Tory plans for tax breaks for married couples — an idea which, according to Mr Clegg, is the product of a party that ‘failed to notice social changes until well after they had happened"
  • Matthew d'Ancona: 'David Cameron must now pass the Christopher Hitchens test' and prove he is not "content-free" - Telegraph

> Yesterday ThinkTankCentral: The Centre for Social Justice attacks Clegg for anti-marriage speech

In a speech today, Nick Clegg will insist that plans to reform the House of Lords, including an elected upper house, has the backing of David Cameron

"It had been assumed that the Conservatives in cabinet had little stomach for the change, but Clegg insists he has the backing of Tories at the highest level, including David Cameron and George Osborne. The move also suggests Clegg is willing to rejoin the fight over constitutional reform after his bruising defeat in the AV referendum in May. Clegg said: "The Lords is a standing affront to everything a liberal democracy should be. It is nepotism and patronage rather than merit, it is closed rather than open. It hoards power and people have been trying to reform it for 100 years" - Guardian

The Government aims to cut down waste produced at Christmas due to the expense it creates to dispose of it

"Grant Shapps, the local government minister, will be speaking to executives from Sainsbury’s, Tesco, B&Q and Morrisons, as well as councils and recycling experts to discuss ideas for cutting the bill for festive waste. “Christmas should always be a time for sharing and celebrating but we must remember that every trussed-up turkey, shrink-wrapped sprout and over-packaged pudding adds to the burden [of refuse services] in the new year,” the minister said" - Telegraph

  • If supermarkets don't cut down packaging over the next year, new laws will force them to - Daily Mail

Pensioners living abroad receive £13.4 million a year in Winter Fuel Payments

Mail"Figures uncovered by the Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott show that from 2006  to 2011, 270,585 winter fuel payments totalling £52.9million have been made to pensioners in Gibraltar, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Malta and Cyprus. These are the eight hottest countries in the European Economic Area – the EU plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Lord Oakeshott added: ‘It is farcical to be spraying out winter fuel payment cheques all around the Mediterranean" - Daily Mail

Mandelson warns of the "dangers" for Ed Miliband in straying too far from Tony Blair's winning formulaGuardian

It is too soon to write Ed Miliband off, says Jackie Ashley, "he needs help. All leaders do. Some of the older generation, including his brother, need to rally to the flag"Guardian

As the Scottish Labour Party elects a new leader, Katie Grant in the Scotsman tells Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson to stop nitpicking, and develop a new direction for her partyScotsman

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