Today's running order
As the the Australian government prepares to announce this year’s budget, it blames huge holes in the country’s finances on China's slowdown. A long mining boom down under is fading, growth is faltering and unemployment is rising. The Conservative administration says it will take political risks to repair the budget, but some observers believe the situation is far worse than the government admits. Our correspondent Phil Mercer reports from Sydney.
Norman Lamb has confirmed he will run for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats. He says he’s "never shrunk away from a challenge" and that he wants to work to campaign for electoral reform. He says “It's critically important that we reconnect and... have an effective advocate for what modern liberalism is all about." But what is the difference between him and Nick Cleg who resigned as leader after the general election left his party with just eight MPs? Norman Lamb is the Lib Dem MP for Norfolk North and Former Health Minister.
A hundred conservation organisations from across the UK have released a joint statement claiming proposals to weaken EU environmental legislation pose the biggest single threat to bio-diversity in a generation. The group which includes the RSPB and Friends of the Earth is responding to a review of habitat directives being conducted by the European Commission. Kate Jennings is from the RSPB, chairwoman of the Joint Links' habitats and birds group.
Union leaders are calling for a deep debate and a serious inquiry into how Labour lost and are warning against a quick timetable for a leadership contest. John Hannett is the General Secretary of the Shopworkers’ Union.
The US Secretary of State John Kerry will be in the Black Sea resort of Sochi today for talks which are expected to include a meeting with President Putin. It's Mr Kerry’s first visit to Russia since the Ukrainian crisis caused a deep rift between Russia and the West. The talks are expected to be wide ranging, covering conflicts in Syria and Yemen, as well as the Iran nuclear talks. Our diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall reports from Sochi.
Nigel Farage is to remain as UKIP leader after the party rejected his resignation. Mr Farage had previously said he would stand down after failing to win a seat in last week's general election. It’s rare indeed for a politician to so publically resign and then un-resign shortly after. Is it more common in other walks of life – like business? Heather McGregor runs executive head-hunters Taylor Bennett and writes the Mrs Moneypenny column for the FT.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis says the liquidity situation in Greece is "terribly urgent" and there needs to be a deal to release more funds in the next two weeks. The Greek government has met a deadline of today to pay a crucial 750 million Euro payment to the IMF having met with Eurozone finance ministers in Brussels yesterday. Germany has suggested Greece might need a referendum to approve painful economic reforms. Klaus-Peter Willsch is a member of the Bundestag and CDU Politician, he opposed the Greek bailout then and now and Marina Prentoulis is a spokesperson for Syriza London and Senior Lecturer in Media and Politics at the University of East Anglia.
A painting by Picasso has become the most expensive art work sold at auction. Les Femmes d'Alger fetched more than $179 million or £115 million at Christies in New York. The previous record-holder was Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucian Freud which was sold for more than £95 million in 2013.
The charity the Stroke Association is reporting a big increase in the number of strokes being experienced by relatively younger people. Among men aged 40 to 54 there was an increase of nearly 50 percent over the space of 15 years. The charity blames rising levels of obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Pete Rumbold, now 53, had a stroke in 2011, which left him paralysed down the left of his body, after a painstaking recovery, he now works as a trainer for Action for Rehabilitation and Neurological Injury, helping others recover and Bridget Bergin, director of services at the Stroke Association.
David Cameron holds the first meeting of his new, all-Conservative Cabinet today. We're speaking to one of the ministers seen to have had a promotion, the Business Secretary Sajid Javid, about the priorities of the new Government, how he will deal with the business community in the run-up to the EU referendum.
It’s the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Thomas the Tank Engine stories. “The Railway Series” began in 1945 as a collection of stories, created by the Rev W Awdry to entertain his son Christopher when he was sick with the measles. The first book “The Three Railway Engines” was published in 1945, and later that year “Edward’s Day out” sold 45,000 copies within a few months. Thomas himself first came to life as a wooden model carved by the Rev W Awdry himself, but he wasn’t in the books until 1946. Veronica Chambers is the daughter of Rev W Awdry who created the Thomas the Tank Engine stories.
Firefighters from the London Fire Brigade have returned to the UK from Nepal where they were assisting in the search and rescue operation. Their main role was not finding people in the rubble, but assessing the buildings left standing to see if they were structurally sound and safe. David O'Neill is a Firefighter for London Fire Brigade, who was part of team that went to assist in Nepal.
The Police and Crime Commissioner in Dyfed-Powys has set up an online poll to see what people there think about firearms officers carrying weapons even while on routine duties. 74 officers in the force go out on patrol and enquiries while armed. The poll has sparked a debate locally about how and when to use armed officers. Dave McMullan reports.
Reigning Superbowl champions The New England Patriots and their quarterback Tom Brady – the biggest star in the NFL – have received heavy sanctions for their role in “deflategate”, a controversy involving the use of under-inflated balls. The club has been fined one million dollars and lost two much more valuable draft picks – and Brady has been suspended for four games. Daniel Kaplan is a reporter at the Sports Business Journal.
A sound art exhibition opens today at The Engine Room, part of Morley Gallery, London. Twenty-two works from emerging sound artists from Singapore, Russia, Germany, Colombia, Italy, Canada, France, the United States and the United Kingdom are on display. The works were finalists in The Engine Room’s first international sound art competition, and the results were announced last night. Andrea Byrne is a London-based sound artist who won the competition and Mira Calix is an established sound artist and one of the competition judges.
New MPs are at Westminster this week for their induction into the ways of parliament. They have to get used to the many traditions and habits which make the place run. But how much will they influence the work of the next five years? The Conservatives are in Government and with a tiny majority - what do their new MPs hope to achieve? We speak to two of the new Conservative intake. Flick Drummond is the new MP for Portsmouth South and Victoria Atkins is the new MP for Louth and Horncastle.
All subject to change.