Nick Clegg and Jo Swinson in Glasgow during last year's Liberal Democrat conference. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Lib Dems delay Jo Swinson's promotion to the cabinet

Business minister will replace Alistair Carmichael as Scottish Secretary following the independence referendum. 

Jo Swinson is cabinet-bound but not quite yet. Earlier this week, I reported speculation among Lib Dems that the business minister would replace Ed Davey in next Monday's reshuffle as Nick Clegg finally added a woman to his party's top team (all five of the party's current cabinet ministers are male). 

I'm told by a source that Clegg considered this move (Davey is regarded as a poor media performer) and that the Energy Secretary has been "calling around in a panic". But as Nick Watt writes in today's Guardian, he has now resolved that Swinson will instead replace Alistair Carmichael as Scottish Secretary following the independence referendum in September. It is thought that this move will increase her chances of holding her marginal seat of East Dunbartonshire (majority: 2,184) against Labour. Carmichael, who replaced Michael Moore in the role in last year's reshuffle, may be offered a general election campaign post in return. 

When she does enter the cabinet, Swinson will be the youngest-ever female member and the first cabinet minister born in the 1980s. No top-level changes will be made on the Lib Dem side next week. Clegg confirmed last weekend that Vince Cable would remain Business Secretary until the election and Danny Alexander will remain Chief Secretary to the Treasury ahead of his likely confirmation as the party's chief economic spokesman for the election (replacing Cable in that role). 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Theresa May's Brexit stance could come at a political cost

The Prime Minister risks raising unrealistic expectations among Leave backers.

Good morning. For Leavers, there's only one more sleep before Christmas: tomorrow Tim Barrow will moonlight as a courier and hand-deliver Theresa May's letter triggering Article 50 to Donald Tusk and Britain's Brexit talks will start.

Well, sort of. That we're pulling the trigger in the middle of, among other things, the French elections means that the EU27 won't meet to discuss May's exit proposals for another month. (So that's one of 23 out of 24 gone!)

The time pressure of the Article 50 process - which, its author Colin Kerr tells Politico was designed with the expulsion of a newly-autocratic regime in mind rather than his native country - disadvantages the exiting nation at the best of times and if there is no clear winner in the German elections in October that will further eat into Britain's negotiating time.

That Nigel Farage has announced that if the Brexit deal doesn't work out he will simply move abroad may mean that Brexit is now a win-win scenario, but heavy tariffs and customs checks seem a heavy price to pay just to get shot of Farage.

What are the prospects for a good deal? As I've written before, May has kept her best card - Britain's status as a net contributor to the EU budget - in play, though the wholesale rejection of the European Court may cause avoidable headaches over aviation and other cross-border issues where, by definition, there must be pooling of sovereignty one way or another.

That speaks to what could yet prove to be May's biggest mistake: she's done a great job of reassuring the Conservative right that she is "one of them" as far as Brexit is concerned. But as polling for BritainThinks shows, that's come at a cost: expectations for our Brexit deal are sky high. More importantly, the average Brexit voter is at odds with the Brexit elite over immigration. David Davis has once again reiterated that immigration will occasionally rise after we leave the EU. A deal in which we pay for single market access, can strike our own trade deals but the numbers of people coming to Britain remain unchanged might work as far as the British economy is concerned. May might yet come to regret avoiding an honest conversation about what that entails with the British public.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.