British Queen celebrates

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Prime Minister David Cameron said he has seen off attempts to change European laws on migration which could have stopped the UK from sending asylum seekers back to other EU countries.

The UK was backed by Germany in successfully opposing the proposals at a European Council summit in Brussels which has been dominated by plans for the bailout of the troubled Greek economy.

Mr Cameron confirmed that he has received assurances that Britain will not be called upon to contribute to EU financial support for Greece and vowed he would be "vigilant" to ensure that the UK was not sucked into the multi-billion euro bailout.

He also called on Europe to lift the red tape burden on small businesses to help the continent escape from its economic crisis. British calls for businesses with 10 employees or fewer to be exempted from most Brussels regulation have won support from several other EU states, he said.

With up to one million people believed to have fled Libya during the current unrest and tens of thousands attempting to cross from North Africa into Europe, the European Commission has floated proposals to suspend the so-called Dublin arrangements which require asylum seekers to be returned to the country through which they entered the EU.



Labour leader Ed Miliband is set to axe shadow cabinet elections in a move which is likely to cause controversy among sections of the party.

Less than a year ago Labour rejected plans to let leaders pick their own frontbench team. But Mr Miliband will formally announce proposals which would scrap the ballot - held every two years in opposition - when the National Policy Forum (NPF) meets this weekend.

The shake-up is likely to be seen as a step to impose his authority on the party.

A senior Labour source said it is time to "move on from the days of the 1980s" and become a "modern, outward-facing organisation". It is hoped the reforms will make Labour look like a party "ready for government" and end the time spent on internal campaigning.

Mr Miliband must first convince his MPs and will address them on Monday at the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). He will also ask its chairman, Tony Lloyd, to organise a debate and a vote on the proposals.

The leader is said to be "confident" of winning MPs' support but their vote is "technically indicative" and he will take the plans to Labour's conference regardless of the outcome.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander explained Mr Miliband's reasons for proposing the change, telling the BBC: "I think he wants a leadership team for the Labour Party that is focused outwards and not inwards.



HMV has been given the go-ahead for the sale of its Waterstone's book chain after the deal received the overwhelming support of shareholders.

The ailing retailer is selling the 296-store chain to Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut for £53 million as it looks to secure its immediate future.

Based on votes lodged before a meeting in London, investors owning 99% of the company's shares consented to the deal. It means the transaction is on track to complete by Tuesday.

Proceeds from the move will help the company pay down some of its £170 million debt pile and buy some time as it looks to reposition the business, which has been rocked by competition from supermarkets and internet downloads.


Retail sales have "fizzled out" in recent weeks and will remain under pressure for some time to come, a gloomy survey from the CBI has warned.

A balance of 2% of retailers said sales volumes fell in the first two weeks of June - the first decline for a year - as anxious consumers cut back on clothing, groceries and big ticket items, the CBI's monthly retail trends survey found.

Consumers are "feeling the pinch" as wages fail to keep pace with the rising cost of living, while future hikes in energy bills are expected to intensify the squeeze, it warned.

Economists said the figures were "very worrying" for the country's growth prospects because consumer spending accounts for 64% of the economy.



Education Secretary Michael Gove has warned headteachers there is a "moral duty" to keep schools open during next week's strike.

In a letter to schools, he said it was the Government's view that industrial action over planned pensions changes was not justified, and that the interests of pupils should be put first.

In a separate letter to local authorities Mr Gove said he was "particularly concerned" that school closures would affect working families and single parents.

Around 300,000 teachers are expected to join picket lines next Thursday as part of a wider public sector strike over pensions and cuts to jobs, services and pay.

Teaching unions have backed the walkout in protest at the Government's planned pension changes, which they say will leave them paying in more, working longer and receiving less when they retire.


House prices fell at their fastest annual rate for 19 months during May as buyers continued to stay away from the market, figures show.

Homes lost 4.2% of their value during the past year, based on average prices during the three months to the end of May, compared with the same three-month period of the previous year, according to Halifax.

It was the biggest annual drop recorded since October 2009 and left the average home costing £160,519.

Prices also continued to drift lower on a quarter-on-quarter basis, which is generally seen as a smoother indicator of market trends, with homes losing 1.2% of their value on this measure, unchanged from the drop recorded for the three months to the end of April.

The typical home now costs 1.4% less than it did at the start of the year, although prices edged ahead by 0.1% during May itself, following a steep 1.4% drop in April.



Banks could see bonuses cut, dividends limited or lending levels restricted if their activities are considered too risky, the head of their new regulatory body, the Prudential Regulatory Authority, has said.

Hector Sants, who will lead the PRA, promised the new body will be tougher and more intrusive than current regulator, the FSA, and make its own judgments on the risks posed by a bank's activities.

The "central presumption" is that regulators cannot rely on what banks tell them and must carry out their own analysis, he said in a speech in London. Being focused just on financial stability will also help it avoid some of the mistakes made in the run-up to the credit crunch, he added.

In extreme cases, the new approach could mean a bank being forced to stop trading and wind itself down if the situation is deemed serious enough,

The former banker is currently chief executive of the FSA, but that organisation is being abolished and he will move over to run the PRA under the new regulatory regime coming into force next year.

In an attempt to avoid a repeat of the crisis that prompted taxpayer-funded bail-outs of Northern Rock, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking, the overseeing of the UK financial markets will now be handled by two bodies.



The royal wedding could be hit by April showers, forecasters have warned.

Much of the UK has been bathed in sunshine over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, but weather experts now say that there is a risk of heavy rain falling on Prince William and Kate Middleton's big day.

Central London and Bucklebury, Berkshire, where Kate grew up, could both see rainfall as the celebrations for the happy couple get under way. The temperature for the royal wedding is likely to be in the high teens, compared to highs of 27C in London over the holiday weekend.

Plans are in place to ensure the wedding goes without a hitch, whatever the weather. If it rains, Prince William and Kate Middleton will leave Westminster Abbey in the Glass Coach, rather than the open-top 1902 State Landau.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the couple will spend a private moment together with their families during the wedding service, away from the watching eyes of the world.


The former head of news and current chief reporter of the News of the World have been arrested on suspicion of phone hacking in London, sources said.

Ian Edmondson, 42, and Neville Thurlbeck, 50, were held by Scotland Yard detectives when they attended separate police stations in south-west London by appointment on Tuesday morning.

The pair were questioned on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and unlawfully intercepting voicemail messages.

These are the first arrests since the Metropolitan Police reopened its inquiry into claims that staff at the top-selling Sunday newspaper hacked into the answerphone messages of celebrities, politicians and Royals.

Scotland Yard has endured a torrent of criticism over its handling of the original case, which led to the conviction of the News of the World's royal editor, Clive Goodman, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire in 2007.

In January the force launched a fresh investigation, codenamed Operation Weeting, after receiving "significant new information" from the paper's publisher, News International.


Stamp and collectibles trader Stanley said it expects to bring in a princely sum for royal wedding memorabilia next month.

The company said the wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton should give a one-off boost to revenues and profits through sales of commemorative stamps, mugs and coasters among other collectible items.

Gibbons said the event will also lift trade at recently-acquired collectibles firm Benhams, as the company specialises in first-day covers - postage stamps sent on their first day of issue - which are expected to sell particularly well on April 29.

Stanley Gibbons reported an 8% rise in pre-tax profits to £4.5 million in the year to December 31, while sales were up 13% at £26.4 million.

A number of products will be on offer around the wedding, including an album pulling together all the commemorative stamps issued for the occasion.

The company will also have a special royal wedding section in its store at The Strand, London.