4.30pm Kwasi Kwarteng MP on ThinkTankCentral: No-one we spoke to foresaw the rise of the Salafists. But we are optimistic about the future of democracy in Egypt

3.45pm WATCH: Cameron calls health summit but excludes BMA and other anti-Bill groups

12.45pm David T Breaker on Comment: "The real solution is fewer laws, less control and greater freedom. It's fairly simple: If you don't make laws that restrict people, except to physically protect others from their actions, then you won't need exemptions." Human rights are increasingly the enemy of freedom

11am WATCH: Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd repeatedly uses f-word in leaked out-takes video

ToryDiary: Nucleus – the new Tory-led group leading the Euro-enthusiast resistance?

J P Floru on Comment says that the Argies should keep their hands off Antarctica

Local Government: Conservative-run East Northamptonshire plans 3.5% Council Tax rise

LeftWatch: That Blasted Hilton! Leading Labour Blogger to Miliband – "I have come to fear that you might actually win the next general election."

WATCH: Obama – Congress "did the right thing" over payroll tax

Brokenshire flies back from Jordan.  May ready to jet off there – as the quest to deport Abu Qatada goes on…

Screen shot 2012-02-18 at 08.39.55"The Home Secretary intervened in the drive to reach a deal with Jordan by announcing yesterday that she was to negotiate directly with that Government. Mrs May is to travel to Amman in the hope of securing assurances that will allow the radical Muslim cleric to be deported from Britain. Her announcement that she would go to Amman “in the near future” came after James Brokenshire, the Security Minister, returned from Jordan, where he had held initial talks about a deal." – Daily Mail

…And Cameron returns from France.  His French election message? "I wish Sarkozy well for the battle ahead". (No, really.)

"At an Anglo-French summit clearly designed to show good relations between the two conservative leaders, Mr Cameron admitted recent “differences” – which have seen them trading insults at times – but said their friendship was “easily strong enough to survive the odd bump and bounce”.  When asked whether he would join Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, in campaigning for Mr Sarkozy in the upcoming French presidential elections, Mr Cameron demurred and said he was not sure his support would “have the effect my friend would like it to have”. " – Financial Times (£)

  • Britain and France urge Syrian opposition to unite – The Guardian

> Yesterday on ConservativeHome: WATCH – Cameron says French nuclear deal will create 1500 jobs

Cameron should level with Scots over devolution offerScotsman

Hague: "We are not favouring the idea of anybody attacking Iran at the moment.”

"Mr Hague points out that “all options are on the table”. This is diplo-speak for military action, which Britain has not ruled out. And nor, he points out, have the Lib Dems, who as partners in the Coalition support the policy even if their manifesto is expressly opposed to a military solution against Iran. Britain’s involvement in the brinkmanship with Iran is the sharp end of a wider diplomatic effort that has, in his words, seen Britain advance on the world stage after years of retreat under Labour." – Daily Telegraph interview

  • US officials believe Iran sanctions will fail, making military action likely – The Guardian
  • John Baron MP seeks Parliamentary vote against war with Iran – Reuters

China is playing a shrewd long gameJohn Redwood's Blog

Alleluia! Defender of faith Pickles restores council prayers

"Councils will be able to override a court ban and hold prayers, Eric Pickles said last night after rushing new powers on to the statute book. Mr Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, moved to supersede last week’s controversial ruling by signing a parliamentary order that came into effect at midnight. It brings forward a power contained in the Government’s Localism Act, which was due to come into force in April." – The Times (£)

  • More Defender of Faith news: Sayeeda Warsi's "hysterical attack on secularism" – Financial Times (£)
  • Church and state comment: "To defend the Church’s role is to defend faith as a whole" – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • Yet more Defender of Faith news: Fresh Warsi interview – The Tablet

“He has a social conscience for sure, but anything on the economy and he is an über-Thatcherite in a way that is quite mad"

"His frustrations have left everyone in Government wondering how long he will stick around. It is difficult to tell, say those around him, because he is “not naturally happy”. He is said to have told friends that he may consider a change of role within No 10 — the thought of becoming an MP is not said to excite him.  In any case, those at the heart of the Prime Minister’s operation say that his personal connection with Mr Cameron remains beyond doubt." – The Times (£) profiles Steve Hilton

The Daily Mail continues its war on Francis Maude by reporting that a female civil servant laddering a £5 pair of tights would get £4.50 compensation here

Centre for Social Justice says budget married couples tax break could be worth £1600 a year

Screen shot 2012-02-18 at 09.03.35"David Cameron was urged to tell his Coalition partners “enough is enough”."Conservative MP Stewart Jackson said: “He has to say to the Lib Dems: ‘This is an important issue of fundamental principle to us and if you don’t like it, you can lump it’.” Last night sources indicated that the calls by the Centre for Social Justice think-tank were gaining backing within Government as Chancellor George Osborne seeks to provide a boost for the middle classes on March 21." – Daily Express

  • Market gains point to budding recovery – Financial Times (£)
  • Chancellor must go to war on excessive taxes – Daily Express Editorial
  • Where is George Osborne's strategy for growth? – Simon Heffer, Daily Mail
  • "A glimmer of sunshine appears on the gloomy winter horizon as high street sales take off at last." – Sun Editorial

Matthew Parris: "Our own democracy would struggle to withstand half this pain. Theirs is far more fragile. Give the Greeks time"

"If Greek voters turned to parties of the extremes of right and left at their next election (their one-time occupying power, Germany, having hobbled and humiliated their mainstream parties), what would Brussels do then? For the precautionary and sometimes plodding nation that it is, Germany can show surprising bursts of overconfidence; of not thinking things through…if we smash up the Greek state now, we in the West are playing with fire." – Matthew Parris, The Times (£)

  • Why the exit of Greece may bring down the Euro house of cards – Patrick O'Flynn, Daily Express
  • Evidence growing of a significant split between Merkel and her finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble on a new Greek bailout – The Guardian
  • Europe’s "proud empire" is entering a cul de sac of history – Andrew Roberts, Financial Times (£)

Court raps Cable over his £9,000 tuition charges that fail to comply with equality rulesDaily Mail

FSA probes ‘death bonds’ group with Lib Dem link Financial Times (£)

Ian Paisley is out of intensive careNewsletter

Screen shot 2012-02-18 at 05.55.03
Green taxes are adding 15% to your energy bills Daily Mail

Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle backs two-thirds of coalition's transport spending cuts – The Guardian

Cameron to hold healthcare summit on Monday Sky News

Rio Ferdinand Twitter latest 1) He tweets his support for Labour's campaign to stop Government reforms to the NHSThe Independent

Rio Ferdinand Twitter latest 2) Miliband tweet misspells footballer's nameThe Sun

Miliband blunder latest: Child handed to Labour leader bursts into tears Daily Mail

Bursting into tears latest: Mum weeps after Edwina Currie radio lashingThe Sun

John Bercow's aides asked official portrait artist to make sure Speaker was painted the same size as his taller predecessors Daily Telegraph


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