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Recession fears as Osborne set to give a speech in Hong Kong urging British businesses to look for trade partnerships in the far east, outside of the battered €urozone 

Osborne"Osborne told reporters: "The problem of high indebtedness in western economies means these are challenging times for the world economy. But as we look to this difficult year ahead, I want to focus on reasons to be optimistic for the future. A richer, stronger Asia is an opportunity for the world, not a threat." But as Osborne seeks to play up the economy's prospects, the Ernst and Young Item Club, which publishes its quarterly health check of the UK on Monday, is predicting two successive quarters of negative growth, starting in the final three months of 2011 – the widely accepted definition of a recession" - The Observer

  • "The Chancellor will use a three-day visit to China and Japan to show his frustration at the seeming inability of Brussels’ leaders to tackle their deepening economic problems" - Mail on Sunday
  • David Laws: 'The Great Democratic Recession: This time, unlike in previous slumps, we're all feeling the pain' - Mail on Sunday

The Sunday Times leader warns of the Coalition's plan to curb top pay: "the danger is the politics of envy take over and the coalition engages in a crude levelling-down process"The Sunday Times (£)

  • James Forsyth: "One of Nick Clegg’s big ideas for dealing with executive pay has been blocked by No 10 and the Treasury. In a speech tomorrow, the Deputy Prime Minister was going to suggest that workers could vote on their bosses’ pay packets. When Downing Street and the Treasury heard about this section of the speech, they scrambled to have it removed" - Mail on Sunday

Cameron lobbied by Clegg on the need to rewrite benefit reform 

Camclegg2"Clegg proposed a series of changes to the £500-a-week cap, including exempting current claimants, in an attempt to ameliorate some of the worst consequences of the change, which critics claim will make 40,000 families homeless by making their current homes unaffordable. It is understood Clegg made his appeal during a meeting attended by the chancellor, George Osborne, and Danny Alexander, chief secretary of the Treasury. Cameron asked the Liberal Democrats to return with more details on how the changes could be made" - Observer

Britain is divided over Scottish independence: 43% in England support Scottish independence compared to 40% in Scotland

Salmond"Today's poll provides a series of setbacks for Mr Salmond, who favours a "three question" referendum in which Scots are offered the choice of full independence, the status quo, or a "devolution max" option in which all powers other than foreign policy and defence are handed to the parliament in Edinburgh … Mr Cameron, who makes it clear he is a passionate defender of the Union, faces a fight to turn round public opinion south of the border, however" - Sunday Telegraph

  • Telegraph View: "The persistent contempt for the English emanating from Mr Salmond and the SNP partly explains why so many English people want to sever ties with Scotland" - Sunday Telegraph
  • Observer Editorial: "Scotland is about to participate in the greatest democratic exercise in its history. It is important that others in the United Kingdom are active participants and their voices are heard too" - The Observer
  • Iain Martin: 'David Cameron would never give England a vote on Scottish independence' - Sunday Telegraph
  • Neal Ascherson: 'Let Scotland be a sovereign, mature nation and England benefits too' - The Observer

Alistair Darling warns of the gamble and huge economic risk Scotland would take in leaving the Union - The Observer

  • The Observer's interview with Alistair Darling –  The Observer
  • Other leading Scots speak out about the independence referendum - The Observer

Lord Forsyth reveals that Salmond threatened Osborne that he would order police to sabotage an early referendum on independence

Michael_forsyth"Scottish Conservative peer Lord Forsyth said: ‘I was told by George Osborne that Mr Salmond said he would boycott any referendum imposed by Westminster.  He said he would order  the police not to man the polling stations.' Control of the police in Scotland is the responsibility of Mr Salmond’s administration, but Lord Forsyth said they did not have the power to hand out operational orders.‘Power has gone to his head and he is getting too big for his boots. He thinks because he won an election, he is above the law" - Mail on Sunday

  • Kevin McKenna: 'Who can lay a glove on Alex Salmond?' - The Observer
Boris Johnson raises concerns over high speed rail saying "there are important aspects of HS2 which are not right

Boris"Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Johnson said: “I am not viscerally hostile. I am a passionate supporter of HS2 in principle, but it has to be right for London. And there are important aspects of HS2 which are not right. This is not the end of campaigning against HS2. This is not even the end of the beginning. This is the beginning of the middle of the beginning. There is no point spending this much on something which doesn’t work properly. The business case needs to be properly made out.” - Sunday Telegraph 
  • Cheryl Gillan sold her house in Amersham, near the HS2 route, 2 months before the Government gave the go-ahead for the project - Sunday Telegraph I Sunday Times
  • Matthew d'Ancona: "A tale of two Camerons and a return to Victorian values': HS2 demonstrates how the PM’s visionary instincts are prevailing over his love of the countryside" - Sunday Telegraph
  • Christopher Booker: "The London to Birmingham high-speed rail link is part of a Europe-wide scheme dreamed up Jacques Delors back in 1993" - Sunday Telegraph

The Government will announce plans on Monday to ban councils from imposing fines for people overfilling, and putting their bins out early

Pickles_eric_nw"Councils will also be told to reduce the level of penalties to as little as £40 from the spring, before the laws are passed, effectively "phasing out" the controversial and unpopular fines system. The end of the fines regime, which began under Labour, will have taken at least two years for coalition ministers to achieve, a period which has included a bitter Whitehall battle between Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, and Eric Pickles, the Community Secretary" – Sunday Telegraph

MPs set to vote on assisted suicideSunday Times (£)

Backbench MPs are planning to force a new debate on reforming abortion laws, after the Government ruled out changes to the lawSunday Times (£)

Andrew Mitchell: Ghana's economic boom proves that aid really does workObserver

The Mail on Sunday calls on Ministers to "fight inferior foreign justice"

"A proper country should have the power to expel foreign nationals who fail to abide by its laws. It should also have the power to protect its own nationals from inferior foreign justice, and from being prosecuted for acts that are not crimes here" – Mail on Sunday

  • Clegg under pressure to raise the issue of a Sheffield computer student facing extradition to the US. In opposition he condemned "lopsided" extradition laws – Independent on Sunday

Chairman of British Asian Conservatives Link, Rickie Sehgal boasts that he can provide one-to-one access to Cameron and his personal mobile phone number for £10,000

"The prominent party activist, who claims extensive links to the Government, bragged to a Mail on Sunday reporter: ‘Those who pay £10,000 a year get Cameron’s mobile.’ Rickie Sehgal, 50, also said donors could dine with the PM – or any other Ministers – and raise any issue they wanted, including relaxing immigration curbs. Asked if £10,000 guaranteed access to the PM, Mr Sehgal said: ‘One  hundred per cent, Cameron… you name it." – Mail on Sunday

A YouGov poll of Labour supporters for the Sunday Times gives Ed Miliband his lowest rating as leader, suggesting brother David and Alistair Darling would make better leaders

Milibandbros"More Labour voters think he is performing badly than performing well, giving him an overall rating of -3 points. By contrast, David Cameron, the prime minister, has a positive net score of 91 … Labour is on 40 points in the YouGov poll, just two points ahead of the Tories. Many Labour activists believe it should be between 10 and 20 points ahead at this stage in the electoral cycle. Embarrassingly for Miliband, the poll was taken after last Tuesday’s much publicised “relaunch” in which he attempted to address doubts about his leadership" – Sunday Times (£)

  • 'Ed slips behind Clegg' – Sunday Times (£)
  • ….. even though support for Clegg continues to drop: "The proportion of respondents who believe he is doing well as leader has fallen from 25% to 18%, while the proportion who think he is doing badly has increased from 65% to 73%" – Sunday Times (£)

Yesterday's Labour acceptance of the Tory case for cuts is welcome, but Balls and Miliband are still losing on the economy, says John RentoulIndependent on Sunday

The Government should force Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man to name tax evaders, says Ed Miliband Guardian

The Sunday Telegraph delves into the world of Tony Blair IncorporatedSunday Telegraph


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