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Picture 15.15pm WATCH: As speculation continues about a bailout, David Cameron stresses the close relationship between Britain and Ireland

4.45pm ToryDiary: David Cameron signals that there will be a Bank Holiday to mark the Royal Wedding

3.45pm LeftWatch: What Labour's "Yes to AV" frontman really thinks about AV (Clue: He's against it)

2.45pm Jonathan Isaby on CentreRight: Lord Ashcroft's TV series telling the stories of some of the most courageous human beings starts tonight

2pm WATCH: Irish Central bank Governor Patrick Honohan says he expects the Irish Government to accept a "very substantial loan"

11pm LeftWatch: Keep an eye on the Alan Johnson-Ed Miliband tensions

Screen shot 2010-11-18 at 11.00.31 ToryDiary: What happened to William Hague MkI?

John Strafford on Platform: Allowing and encouraging meaningful participation is the key to reviving the Tory grassroots

Seats and Candidates: The Conservative campaign in Oldham East and Saddleworth is underway and seeking your help

Local Government: LGA Chief Executive is paid £302,840 a year

Causes2 graph

Parliament: The campaigns and causes being championed by Conservative backbenchers

Andrew Lilico on CentreRight: What lessons can the Coalition learn from Ireland’s woes?

WATCH: William Hague says that it is in Britain's national interest "to be helpful towards Ireland"

George Osborne: The UK is ready to support Ireland over debt crisis

George Osborne 2010 micced up "The UK is "ready to support Ireland" in achieving economic stability, if it asks for help, George Osborne has said. It was in Britain's national interest that its neighbour had a successful economy, the UK chancellor said. Teams from the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank will travel to Dublin on Thursday to consider a bail-out." – BBC

"The harsh reality is Britain’s banks lent £140billion to Ireland – with the almost wholly taxpayer-owned RBS leading the pack – and it accounts for seven per cent of UK exports. The harsh reality is Britain’s banks lent £140billion to Ireland – with the almost wholly taxpayer-owned RBS leading the pack – and it accounts for seven per cent of UK exports." – Daily Mail editorial

"The UK cannot afford to help bail out Ireland" blogs John Redwood

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: "Osborne considers billions in Irish loans"

> Matt Sinclair on CentreRight: Contagion won't be stopped by an Irish bailout, it will just be expensively delayed

Osborne "backtracks on City reforms"

"George Osborne's plans for a regulatory overhaul of the City are unravelling after the Treasury was deluged with concerns about his proposals to tackle insider dealing and monitor big companies." – The Guardian

More coverage of the new peerages expected to be announced tomorrow

Andrew Feldman "Close allies of David Cameron will be rewarded with peerages tomorrow when Downing Street issues a long-awaited list of more than 50 new working peers, The Independent has learned. They include at least two donors to the Conservatives: Andrew Feldman (pictured), a close friend of Mr Cameron since his time at Oxford University and now co-chairman of the party, and Stanley Fink, a hedge fund manager who is the party's joint treasurer." – The Independent

"There is disappointment for Ann Widdecombe, the former Tory Home Office minister and current star of Strictly Come Dancing. She has missed out on a peerage, despite rumours to the contrary. Former head of the Army General Sir Richard Dannatt, however, is expected to be given a seat in the Lords, according to reports last night." – Daily Mail

> Yesterday in Seats and Candidates: Alistair Cooke, Stanley Fink, Andrew Feldman and Angela Knight all expected to become Tory peers

David Cameron to face first Liaison Committee grilling today

"David Cameron is facing a grilling by panel of some of Parliament's most senior MPs, with the impact of massive public spending cuts high on the agenda. Police numbers, housing benefit reforms and flood defences are among controversial issues set to be raised by members of the the Commons Liaison Committee. The marathon two-and-a-half-hour session is Mr Cameron's first in front of the group, which is made up of the 33 chairmen of the cross-party departmental select committees." – Press Association

New leak exposes MoD fury at defence cutbacks

Liam Fox 2010 "David Cameron's defence review has demoralised the Armed Forces, strained relations with allies and ignored significant military advice, a leaked Ministry of Defence document has disclosed. It was rushed and its handling "badly damaged the confidence and morale of our personnel," the paper says. The document, seen by The Daily Telegraph, was prepared by a board of military officers and senior officials working for Dr Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, for a secret Whitehall assessment of the process." – Daily Telegraph

Hague presses Clinton to release Guantanamo inmate

"Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Wednesday he urged the United States to send Guantanamo Bay inmate Shaker Aamer, the last British resident at the U.S. military prison in Cuba, back to Britain." – Reuters

Hague insists Britain will remain closest US allySky News

Government suffers Lords defeat over ID card refunds

"The government has been defeated in the Lords over its refusal to offer people who bought ID cards a refund. Ministers are legislating to scrap ID cards but 12,000 people had already bought one, at a cost of £30 each. In a debate on the Identity Documents Bill, peers backed a Labour amendment by 220 votes to 180 to compensate them, arguing it was an issue of "fairness". – BBC

Coalition news in brief

  • Co-ops: Public sector workers are being urged to set up John Lewis-style co-operatives – The Guardian
  • Tuition fees: Thousands of the poorest graduates will be worse off under the Government's higher education reforms because of a statistical "sleight of hand" by ministers – The Independent
  • FCO cutbacks: The Foreign Office is to shed one in 10 of its staff, sell old embassy buildings and step up recruitment of cheaper “local hires” as it focuses resources on becoming a leaner trade-oriented department. – FT (£)
  • Overseas territories: Britain promised yesterday more help, closer political consultation and new police, transport and environmental co-operation with its scattered overseas territories – The Times (£)
  • Nato cuts: The government is backing proposals for radical changes to Nato's command structure – BBC

Polling news

  • Support for the Labour party is at its highest level for three years as public confidence about the economy – and the private sector's ability to mop up laid-off public sector workers – continues to ebb. – Reuters
  • YouGov has Tories and Labour neck and neck at 40% – UK Polling Report

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Conservatives slip below 40% in two polls

Alan Johnson calls for loosening of Labour's union ties

"Alan Johnson leads calls today for reform of the Labour Party, declaring that the system which elected Ed Miliband as party leader was wrong and should be changed to weaken the grip of trade unions. The Shadow Chancellor’s comments to The Times reflect deep unease among party modernisers over a result that saw David Miliband lose out, even though he won more support from Labour members and MPs." – The Times (£)

SNP accused of putting 'party before nation' as Scottish draft budget is unveiled The Guardian

And finally.. John Prescott's lavish silver service spending is revealed

John Prescott 2010 "John Prescott enjoyed silver service dining in his government office and stipulated that “only top brands” must be sold in departmental vending machines, according to the first public sector contract to be made public. The taxpayer paid more than £3 million a year for catering, cleaning and building services in the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions that was run by Mr Prescott. The contract, signed with Mitie Managed Services in 2004, shows the extraordinarily prescriptive level of detail which dictated how private companies would oversee the day-to-day running of the department." – The Times (£)

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