Door to RAF strikes in Syria opens

RAF Tornado GR4 returning to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus after an armed mission against IS forces in Iraq on 30 September 2014
The RAF began strikes against IS targets in Iraq last September

The defence secretary will open the door to RAF airstrikes against terrorist targets in Syria in a speech today.

Michael Fallon will tell MPs that a new parliament should consider afresh the case for attacking the forces of Isis or the so-called Islamic State not just in Iraq but in Syria as well.

He will insist that there is no legal barrier to British military attacks and point out that both the Canadian and Jordanian air forces have already attacked Syrian targets.

David Cameron was defeated in the Commons just under two years ago when Tory rebels joined forces with Labour to oppose airstrikes on Syrian government targets designed to deter the use of chemical weapons.

Ever since August 2013 the prime minister has said he would respect the vote.

Read full article Door to RAF strikes in Syria opens

Europe: Cameron accepts treaty delay

David Cameron

The BBC understands that the prime minister has accepted that it may not be possible to change the EU's treaties - the laws on which it is based - before the UK votes in a referendum on whether to stay in or leave the EU.

In recent meetings with fellow European Union leaders David Cameron has argued instead for what officials call an "irreversible lock" and "legally binding" guarantees that at some future date EU law will be changed to accommodate Britain's renegotiation.

Read full article Europe: Cameron accepts treaty delay

Europe: David Cameron’s gift to fellow EU leaders

David Cameron

When you turn up for dinner it's polite to take a gift but when David Cameron shows up in Brussels tonight he won't be bearing flowers or chocolates.

What he'll hand over to his host to share with the 27 other guests is the "British problem". This is the important moment that it becomes the EU's shared problem.

Read full article Europe: David Cameron’s gift to fellow EU leaders

Calais chaos – why it scares the prime minister

David Cameron

If looking at the pictures of young men breaking into lorries watched by helpless lorry drivers, worried onlookers and apparently impotent police officers didn't convince you…

If a late night exclusive handed to The Sun last night about a new immigration "enforcement team" didn't do it …

Read full article Calais chaos – why it scares the prime minister

Benefit cuts - coming soon

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith outside Downing Street
Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne held a meeting with the prime minister last week

"You identify a million people who you'd like to take £1,000 away from and I'll do it."

That's what a former Tory benefits axeman in the 1990s used to tell fellow MPs who urged him to find an easy £1bn cut from the nation's welfare bills.

Read full article Benefit cuts - coming soon

Labour leadership: Missing - a big idea

Labour leadership hustings

"MISSING: A BIG IDEA. LOST BY LABOUR PARTY. IF FOUND PLEASE INFORM PARTY BEFORE SEPTEMBER. REWARD - POWER (MAYBE)"

Something was very obviously missing from last night's TV debate between the candidates for Labour leader. It was an election-winning 'Big Idea'.

Read full article Labour leadership: Missing - a big idea

Balancing the books - do we need a new law?

Why pass a law to force yourself to so something you already intend to do? That was my first reaction to the news that the chancellor plans to legislate to oblige him to run a budget surplus in "normal times" - in other words to raise more in tax than he spends when the economy's not in recession.

So, is this announcement pure politics? After all, George Osborne knows that the first rule of political strategy is to "define your opponent before they can define themselves".

Read full article Balancing the books - do we need a new law?

Charles Kennedy - He left a mark on politics. It left a mark on him

Charles Kennedy

The only UK party leader to warn the country of the perils of invading Iraq when Labour and the Conservatives were uniting to support it.

The only Liberal Democrat MP who could not bring himself to vote to form a coalition with the Conservatives (Source - Alex Carlile).

Read full article Charles Kennedy - He left a mark on politics. It left a mark on him

Queen's Speech - Things can only get tougher

Appearances can be deceptive.

It may be Her Majesty that travels from the Palace to Parliament to deliver it.

Read full article Queen's Speech - Things can only get tougher

Ed Balls: My sense of loss and what Labour got wrong

Were you up for that Ed Balls moment - the symbol of Labour's crushing electoral defeat, the trigger for wild Tory celebrations and Labour despair?

In his first interview since that moment two weeks ago, the man who thought he was about to be chancellor told me about his "sense of loss" after his party's failure and a personal defeat which he describes as "a symbol of the vibrancy of our democracy".

Read full article Ed Balls: My sense of loss and what Labour got wrong