Published:

5pm Teatime newslinks with the latest on economic growth, David Cameron's message to Tory MPs, and unrest in the Middle East

Loughton Tim Dec 20114.45pm WATCH: Tim Loughton: "We are trying to overhaul the whole way adoption happens in this country"

3pm MPsETC: Chris Heaton-Harris MP uses 60 adjectives to condemn building of wind farm

1.30pm Columnist Andrew Lilico: The term "coloured" is old-fashioned, not offensive

CALLANAN MARTIN12.15pm MPsETC: Martin Callanan MEP's report from the European Parliament

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

11am JP Floru on Comment: Attacking bankers does not help the free market cause

ToryDiary: Tim Loughton announces the speeding up and simplification of the adoption system

ToryDiary: The veto has been of exaggerated importance and it won't be long before we realise Britain's relationship with the EU will continue as before – Do you agree? ConservativeHome's end of year survey

Columnist Bruce Anderson: The God that Christopher Hitchens would need

Matthew Hancock MP on Comment: The Conservatives must not be complacent in 2012, and keep winning the economic argument next year

Local Government: 

WATCH: Eurozone banks rush to take three-year ECB loans

David Cameron may sign a new version of the EU treaty he vetoed two weeks ago

CameronUK"The revamp involves cutting back the emergency plan to solve the eurozone crisis. It is being spearheaded by Germany in a bid to get the UK and other wavering nations back on board. It would contain just a few strict deficit rules for single currency members. And any attempt at further euro regulations would be abandoned. That would in effect give the PM the safeguards he demanded for financiers in the City of London, argue supporters of the plan — championed by Deputy Premier Nick Clegg." – The Sun

  • The Sun Says: "The loser in this latest round of Brussels poker would be French poodle Nicolas Sarkozy."

Public borrowing falls, leaving Government on course to meet £127bn target

"George Osborne was handed some much-needed Christmas cheer yesterday after government borrowing fell by more than expected. Official figures showed a budget shortfall of £18.1billion last month – down from £20.4billion in November 2010 and less than the £19.7billion predicted in the City. It put the Chancellor on track to meet or even beat his target of cutting the annual deficit from £137billion last year to £127billion this time around." – Daily Mail

Children's Minister Tim Loughton to introduce a quicker and more effective approval procedure for adoption

Loughtontim2"The chronic delays and crippling bureaucracy faced by people who want to adopt will be swept away by the Government, in a significant response to a campaign by The Times. Ministers have accepted that far too many suitable adopters are being turned away or are spending months providing irrelevant information that reveals little about their potential as parents. An expert panel will develop the new system and assessment form by next March. It will be based on judging an applicant’s “capacity to care” and will come into force later next year, it was announced." – The Times (£)

Michael Gove threatens to ban teachers’ exam seminars

"Exam boards could be banned from running seminars giving teachers advice on how to improve the GCSE and A-level grades of their pupils following an investigation by The Daily Telegraph, the Education Secretary said yesterday. Michael Gove said chief examiners had “overstepped the mark” and undermined public confidence in the system after they were filmed advising teachers at £230-a-day sessions about the exact wording that pupils should use and which questions they could expect." – Daily Telegraph

Eric Pickles withdraws local government pensions letter

"The row that threatened to scupper a deal on local government pensions looked largely resolved when the communities secretary Eric Pickles gave assurances to unions he was not seeking to set new conditions for a deal." – Guardian

  • "A TUC spokesman said: "All those involved welcome the speedy clarification from ministers that has enabled this agreement to be taken forward."" – The Sun

> Coverage from yesterday:

Andrew Mitchell sends 9,000 tonnes of food aid for Horn of Africa famine

Mitchell Thoughtful
"Millions remain in danger as a result of drought and famine in the Horn of Africa, UK International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has said. Mr Mitchell said the latest estimate is that up to 100,000 people may have died between April and August. More than 9,000 tonnes of UK-funded aid is due to arrive in the region over Christmas, which is expected to feed some 800,000 people." – BBC

  • Britain's new year resolution: intervene in Somalia – Independent

Greg Clark hints planning reforms are likely to be watered down next year

CLARK GREG"The comments from Planning minister Greg Clark gave a clear hint that the Government is looking at amending its reforms after sustained criticism from countryside campaigners. … Yesterday Mr Clark stated explicitly that the Government would not allow planning rules to be published that were skewed in favour or more development. He said: “There’s no intention whatever to change the nature of the planning system in striking that balance."" – Daily Telegraph

Welsh and Scottish leaders demand Cameron meeting on EU

"Carwyn Jones and Alex Salmond said the devolved administrations had been excluded from decisions on European matters. In a joint letter, they told David Cameron they were "deeply concerned" about his use of the veto." – BBC

  • "David Cameron claims his decision to veto a deal to save the euro could save up to 100,000 Scottish jobs. The Prime Minister’s claim is in reply to a letter from Alex Salmond" – Daily Express

Ed Miliband appoints archbishop's adviser as chief of staffGuardian

Steve Richards: Are the Lib Dems and Labour testing out their own Coalition?

Balls Ed Wood"Following the all-out war between Labour and the Lib Dems in the Coalition's early days, dialogue is constant between Ed Miliband's office and a few, despairing Lib Dems. Balls says he is up for a partnership in a hung parliament, including this one. Such nods and winks can only be a beginning, or should be. If Clegg is right about the date of the next election, both parties need to have established a warm enough relationship to make partnership possible afterwards. After all, nearly all the polls point to another hung parliament to follow this one." – Steve Richards for the Independent

  • Lib Dems laugh off Ed Balls' call for a new coalition – Independent

> Yesterday on LeftWatch: Sore Balls in a squeeze

Sir Gus O'Donnell questions the future of the Union, says red tape is preventing a recovery and says one of his proudest moments was keeping us out of the EuroDaily Telegraph

Peter Oborne: I believe it would be wrong to give Lady Thatcher a state funeral – Peter Oborne for the Daily Telegraph

Boat boycott heats up Falklands cold warThe Times (£)

  • Britain dusts off war plans amid calls to send a nuclear submarine after Argentina joins forces with Brazil and Uruguay to blockade islands – Daily Mail
  • UK fury as South America closes ranks to ban Falklands boats – Independent
  • "Locals wishing to remain ruled from London shouldn’t preclude a joint sovereignty arrangement with Buenos Aires." – Daily Mirror editorial

EU-FLAGEU orders Britain not to send asylum seekers back to Greece because the country is so brokeDaily Mail

MoD demands release of Pakistani man held in USIndependent

New laws to combat metal thefts "conflict with cuts to red tape"Daily Telegraph

Solar subsidy changes could deal "fatal blow" to industryBBC

And finally… At home with the Milibands: Everything Ed and his spin doctors would like you know about him (warning: contains geeky scenes)

"The news is bad … very bad indeed. Labour is trailing in the polls and most of the country still regards Ed Miliband as an unelectable geek. Fellow MPs have publicly denounced his performances at Prime Minister’s Questions as disastrous. So what can be done to improve 41-year-old Ed’s public image? Idea! What about setting up an interview with a friendly tabloid, plonk him in front of a Christmas tree with his family, and show the world his ‘human’ side?" – Daily Mail

  • "Ed Miliband's latest attempt to boost his popularity backfired yesterday — after he said his secret talent was doing the Rubik's Cube in 90 seconds." – The Sun

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