8.30pm LISTEN: Peter Bone MP talks to Radio 4 about who would become PM if Cameron was (God forbid) killed

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

11.15am MPsETC: History, Europe, family and needs of business feature in Christmas adjournment debate

ToryDiary: Top chum Pickles isn't the unions' friend over pensions (or Danny Alexander's either)

Andrew MurrisonDr Andrew Murrison MP on Comment: Why David Cameron’s ministerial committee on the military covenant is important

Local Government:

LeftWatch: Sore Balls in a squeeze


WATCH: Simplify planning rules, MPs urge

Euro crisis threatens the UK’s triple-A credit status

Screen shot 2011-12-21 at 05.37.14"France faces losing its top-level rating and President Sarkozy’s Government has been preparing the market for such a move. Any downgrade to Britain would undermine the credibility of the Chancellor’s plan for restoring the nation’s finances and also add to the cost of government borrowing. A one-notch downgrade would add tens of millions of pounds to the annual interest bill…While maintaining Britain’s AAA rating at “stable”, Moody’s said that it was under threat because of the weaker economy and the threat of shocks from Europe." – The Times (£)

  • Cameron makes modest Populus poll gain with EU veto – The Times (£)
  • William Hague's harder line on Europe has been a shock to mandarins – Benedict Brogan, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday:

Storm hits PM's Christmas trip to Afghanistan

"A freak dust storm forced the PM to divert his trip from Camp Bastion in Helmand to a smaller base 100 miles away in Kandahar.His RAF C17 Globemaster Transporter had to circle for an extra hour as an eerie haze thickened below due to high winds. He had already delayed his pre-Christmas trip by 12 hours to go to The Sun's Millies awards last night, where his wife Samantha joined him as a judge for the first time." – The Sun

  • Cameron warned over Armed Forces pay freeze – Daily Telegraph
  • Hammond: We can do more to help veterans – The Sun

> Yesterday:

Ministers claim victory over pensions… then unions pull out of the deal after Pickles intervention

Eric Pickles"Union leaders were furious after Mr Pickles allegedly inserted new conditions into a carefully-worded deal… The intervention by Mr Pickles infuriated the Treasury, which had earlier declared victory in the year-long dispute. Danny Alexander said the letter from Mr Pickles had been ‘withdrawn’ and that a new one would be issued. But Mr Pickles was unrepentant last night. Aides denied the letter had been retracted and said talks were under way to resolve the ‘misunderstanding’." – Daily Mail

Scrooge Cable won't send Christmas cards to Tory MPs The Independent

Bah, Humbug! Cable recycles his eternal anti-City article for Christmas

Cable Vince Yes"Vince Cable has served notice on the "whingeing" City that the coalition government will ignore the special pleading of bankers to make the economy less dependent on a sector that has caused "immense damage" to Britain. Writing in the Guardian, the business secretary says the caricature of the City as a "source of systemic instability, unfettered greed and industrial scale tax dodging" is true, but he blames a small number of "rogue institutions" and a "sub-caste of financiers" for the blow to the Square Mile's reputation." – The Guardian

Cable article in full

> Yesterday: ThinkTankCentral – Think tanks give cool response to Coalition's banking reforms

Scrooge Cable won't hand over his winter fuel allowanceDaily Mail 

"Hitch was wrong. Liberty depends on stability"

"To most outside the cult it seems reasonably plain that the main source of Trotsky’s animus against Stalin is that he felt that he, Trotsky, should have been in charge of all the killing. For all his truth telling, one searches in vain for this truth in the writings of the Hitch. Asked quite recently by the BBC to nominate a subject for its Great Lives programme, Hitchens chose to big up Trotsky for three quarters of an hour." – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

Shooting rioters is not the answerDaily Mail Comment

Lenders should not penalise over-50s – Ann Widdecombe, Daily Express

Train fares soar 5.9 per cent The Sun

Local Government committee urges Government planning rethinkDaily Telegraph

House of Lords ban on cheating peersDaily Express

Everyone over 40 will be offered a free health MoT in a bid to save hundreds of lives a yearDaily Mail

Times sketchwriter's Christmas present for Nick Clegg is…a spine – Ann Treneman, The Times (£)


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