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Leaders debates are on: officially

Westminster Christmas party season is in full swing. Half the Cabinet dropped by the Sky News bash at the Intercontinental last night. Mick Hucknall was also there, which was odd.

The big news of the evening came when the head of Sky News, Jon Riley, confirmed that all three party leaders have now officially agreed to TV debates at the next election. Details were sparse because there appears to be deadlock over formats, timings and even the number of debates. The debates are on, though. Officially. In some form.

It was a busy old evening for political-ornithologists. Tim Yeo lurked in the corner, looking glum. Chris Bryant refused to ‘twerk’ with Guido Fawkes. Keith Vaz was peacocking-about: evidently invigorated by his earlier battle with Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger at the Home Affairs Select Committee. Francis Maude looked like he was plotting something dark and devious. Meanwhile, four Labour MPs elected in by-elections arrived together, huddled together and then barely spoke to anyone else. They’re still getting used to all this, it seems.

Vince Cable was in attendance, which is bizarre given that he is the Business Secretary and a British trade delegation is touring China. But I am assured that the Sage of Twickenham remained in London this week because he will be wooing India next week. Lucky them.

Some obvious faces were missing, not least the Treasury ministers. It seems that the cogs are still whirring at No.11 before tomorrow’s Autumn Statement. No such problem for Ed Balls, who was working the room hard, fuelled by a glass of white wine (having turned down the champagne). Obviously we can expect the usual knackered script when he replies to Osborne.

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