The Spectator

Portrait of the Week – 31 October 2009

Mr Gordon Brown is prepared to campaign actively for Mr Tony Blair, whom he replaced as Prime Minister, to be the first permanent president of the European Council of the European Union, Downing Street said.

Mr Gordon Brown is prepared to campaign actively for Mr Tony Blair, whom he replaced as Prime Minister, to be the first permanent president of the European Council of the European Union, Downing Street said. Mr David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, had said earlier that Mr Blair would be a good candidate because ‘we need someone who, when he or she lands in Beijing or Washington or Moscow, the traffic does need to stop’. Sir Christopher Kelly, the Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, told party leaders the outline of his report on MPs’ expenses, to be published next week, and shortly afterwards there was a leak of his recommendations that MPs should no longer be able to claim for mortgage payments on second homes or to employ spouses as secretaries. The Communication Workers Union pondered more strikes after talks with the Royal Mail at the Trades Union Congress headquarters near the British Museum. The British economy unexpectedly shrank by 0.4 per cent between July and September, its sixth successive quarter of contraction. Mr Bill Rammell, the Minister for the Armed Forces, announced that plans to slash the budget of the Territorial Army by £20 million had been dropped, and it would be slashed by only £17.5 million. Then Mr Brown let it be known that the rest would be reinstated. The all-party Public Accounts Committee lambasted a quango called the Rural Payments Agency over the cost of administering the EU single payments scheme for farmers in England; a National Audit Office interim report had found that extra staff costs since 2005 amounted to £304 million and a computer system had cost £350 million. The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that an advertisement on the wireless by the Department for Children, Schools and Families was misleading in its suggestion that the new ‘Advanced Diploma, equivalent to 3.5

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