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The Conservative Party has dropped plans to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty after it was ratified by the Czech Republic on 3 November. In 2007, David Cameron made a "cast-iron guarantee" to hold a referendum.

The taxpayer-owned banks the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group will sell off 318 and 600 branches respectively to encourage competition, following demands by the European Commission. They will also face restrictions on bonuses.The government will spend a further £39bn in funding the banks.

Christopher Kelly's report on MPs' expenses pushes for an end to mortgage claims, MPs employing relatives and "golden goodbyes" to retiring MPs. The House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, urged MPs not to challenge the recommendations.

Professor David Nutt, the head of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, was asked to resign by the Home Secretary after criticising government drugs policy in a speech, which called for an approach more firmly rooted in scientific evidence. Two ACMD members have resigned in protest.

Simon Mann, the former British soldier sentenced to 34 years for a coup plot in Equatorial Guinea, has been pardoned by the country's president after over five years in prison in Malabo. He will be released on humanitarian grounds due to health problems.

The banking giant HSBC will cut 1,700 retail banking jobs, bringing total losses this year to 3,400. The trade union Unite has attacked the decision, calling it “a fundamental mistake".

David Miliband visited Russia, becoming the first UK foreign secretary to do so in five years. Russia has refused the UK's continued demand for the extradition of the main suspect in the 2006 killing of Alexander Litvinenko.

The BNP leader, Nick Griffin, was refused a visit to the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria. The site is within Griffin's European constituency. He said he wanted to visit as he is pro-nuclear power and anti-windfarms. Site operators refused on the grounds that his presence would be "an unnecessary distraction" and possible security risk.

General Motors has cancelled plans to sell a majority stake in its European brands, Opel and Vauxhall, to Canadian car parts firm Magna. GM said its "business environment" was improving, but will still seek financial aid from the German government. The trade union Unite has hailed the decision.

This article appears in the 09 November 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Castro