Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said he has "no doubt" the controversial High Speed 2 rail scheme will benefit the whole country, after claims it could cost some cities hundreds of millions of pounds.
Mr McLouglin said the project was "vital" for the economy's long-term health, adding: "It's of no doubt to me that it's beneficial to the UK. We need to make sure our cities in the north are able to compete with the rest of Europe as well."
More top news
The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition praised the courage of Britain's armed forces in a Christmas message to troops.
Nick Clegg has vowed to avoid appearances on reality shows like I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! when he stands down as an MP.
Immortalised in the film Zulu, the Battle of Rorke's Drift is an iconic episode of British military history.