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No. 10 pressing on with NHS reforms and William Hague's recognition of Syrian opposition lead our teatime newslinks

Downing Street says Government would end up in "no man's land" if it abandons NHS bill

10-downing-street"The hard-hitting message indicates that the coalition could be heading for a major clash next week on the NHS. This comes after the Liberal Democrat president said the health and social care bill should have been dropped or "massively changed" last year. In an intensification of the Lib Dems' campaign for wholesale changes to the government's health reforms, Tim Farron called for the removal of proposed new rules on competition in the NHS." - Guardian

  • "Speaking to BBC 2's Daily Politics, Mr Hancock said the NHS had been high on the agenda at a recent party 'away day': "There’s very strong backing, in fact it was one of the things that happened, there’s very strong backing for getting this bill through and the reason is that the bill will improve outcomes and improve things for patients and put power in the hands of doctors."" - Matthew Hancock quoted by PolHome (£)

William Hague announces Britain will recognise the Syrian opposition

  • Hague William New Headshot"He said the international community had to "tighten the diplomatic and economic stranglehold" on the Syrian government, amid growing concern over bloodshed in Homs and other cities. "We will intensify our links with the opposition," Mr Hague said. "I will meet leaders of the Syrian National Council in a few minutes' time, before the main meeting takes place. "We, in common with other nations, will now treat them and recognise them as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people."" - Guardian
  • Sir Malcolm Rifkind urges non-military support: "You can force things which do not require involving yourself in actual conflict. If for example Turkey, Iraq and the Mediterranean airspaces close to Syria, that’s not invading Syria’s own airspace, that is simply saying the countries that surround Syria are refusing to allow any movement of air transport that might actually be providing support for the Syrian regime." - PolHome (£)
  • "The main Syrian opposition group has asked for rebel fighters to be allowed to import weapons." - BBC

Eric Joyce MP charged with three counts of assault

"Joyce, the MP for Falkirk, spent the night in Belgravia police station after he was arrested and removed from the Strangers' Bar on Wednesday evening. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We were called at approximately 10.50pm last night to reports of a disturbance at a bar within the House of Commons. A man aged in his 50s was arrested by officers on suspicion of assault." - Guardian

  • The Eric Joyce case shows that MPs are human too – believe it or not - Dan Hodges

Eurozone crisis latest


  • "The Italian Treasury's borrowing costs fell significantly Friday compared to a month ago as it sold the maximum planned €3 billion ($4.0 billion) in a two-year zero coupon bond, auguring well for next week when euro-zone sovereigns step up their debt issuance." - WSJ
  • "Greek private sector involvement is expected to be launched on Friday as the hunt for holders of Athens’ debt officially begins. Greece must get nearly all of the €206bn of debt held in private hands to take part in the PSI or debt swap in order to start receiving the €130bn of bail-out funds as part of the country’s second rescue." - FT (£)


  • Which tax cuts would be best for the economy? - Coffee House
  • Cameron's message on business is totally muddled - Ruth Porter
  • "GDP fell 0.2% in Q4, unrevised from last month. Production fell 1.4%, construction fell 0.5% with services flat" - The Office for National Statistics
  • Jack Straw is the Sun's hero of the week for saying the European Parliament should be scrapped
  • Argentina’s ‘useful idiot’ Sean Penn should leave Hollywood and move to Buenos Aires - Nile Gardiner
  • "Retired businessman Christopher Tappin is likely to be held in an American prison for a week, his solicitor said today, after he was handed over to US Marshalls for extradition." - Daily Telegraph