7 Days

Left behind? British government officials sent Eurosceptics into apoplexy by backing deeper integration between the socialist governments of the EU. They helped draw up a manifesto entitled The New European Way: economic reform in a framework for EMU, which advocates shared economic policies and more harmonised taxes between member states. Gordon Brown swiftly denied Brussels would have any say in setting British tax rates. Quite right. How can we talk about harmonising when we haven't even joined the choir?

Bleak Russian Russia entered another period of uncertainty following the killing of a leading democrat, Galina Starovoitova, and Boris Yeltsin's admission to hospital with pneumonia. The ailing president expressed his anger at Starovoitova's contract-style shooting, which had "wounded every Russian who cherishes democratic values". Yeltsin's condition, however, caused less concern. The Moscow stock market, which previously trembled with every irregular presidential heartbeat, rose sharply on news of his latest illness.

Bully for us EU agriculture ministers finally lifted the 32-month ban on British beef exports. But joy was tempered by the realisation that winning back overseas markets could be tougher than undercooked gristle. Farmers now want the government to end its domestic beef-on-the-bone ban.

Ashdown and out? Paddy Ashdown admitted that some of his parliamentary colleagues want to replace him as Liberal-Democrat leader. He has been criticised by MPs and party activists for his close co-operation with Tony Blair over the question of PR. It's thought that Charles Kennedy and Simon Hughes, spokespeople on agriculture and health respectively, may challenge Ashdown next year.

Royal row The hushed solemnity that accompanies the Queen's Speech was broken by some Labour MPs who showed their support of the plans to abolish the voting rights of hereditary peers. Finding out who the raucous rebels were may prove difficult, however, as plans for a Freedom of Information Act were cut from the legislative programme.

Coming clean The Paymaster General, and NS owner, Geoffrey Robinson, breached parliamentary rules, according to the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee; he apologised to the House for not disclosing some outside interests. What does the NS have to say? See page 49.

This article first appeared in the 27 November 1998 issue of the New Statesman, How the left hijacked the family