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Key political events of 2012

January

Alex Salmond names timeframe for independence referendum – autumn 2014. David Cameron holds out prospect of "further powers" for Holyrood if Scots vote no to independence. Fred Goodwin, former RBS chief, stripped of knighthood.

February

Chris Huhne, Energy Secretary, resigns to face driving charge. Falkirk MP Eric Joyce pleads guilty to headbutting Tory backbencher. Apologises and quits Labour Party.

March

Omnishambles Budget, including granny tax and scrapping 50p tax rate, leaves Coalition red-faced. George Galloway wins Bradford West by-election. Unemployment reaches 17-year high of 2.7 million. Peter Cruddas, Conservative co-treasurer, resigns in cash for access row.

April

UK slumps to double-dip recession. Adam Smith, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's special advisor, quits over his contacts with News International.

May

Scotland Bill becomes law bringing in new Scottish rate of income tax, borrowing powers of £5 billion and control over air-guns as well as drink-driving and speeding limits.

Labour wins largest number of council seats in England and Wales while SNP wins most in Scotland. Boris Johnson re-elected as London Mayor.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt denies being "cheerleader" for News International bid for BSkyB.

June

Barclays fined £290 million for trying to fix Libor interbank lending rate. Review launched.

July

Coalition suffers largest rebellion with 91 Tory rebels voting against House of Lords reform. Bob Diamond resigns as Barclays chief.

August

David Cameron pulls plug on Lords reform as he has not got sufficient Tory support. LibDems warn of "consequences" on review of boundaries. First Group wins £5bn West Coast Main Line rail franchise, beating Virgin.

September

David Cameron reshuffles Cabinet with promotions for Chris Grayling, Owen Paterson and Jeremy Hunt.

Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell accused of swearing at police in Downing Street, calling them plebs. He denies claim but media pressure forces him to resign. Scottish Secretary Michael Moore and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon begin intergovernmental talks on referendum process.

Nick Clegg's conference speech overshadowed by spoof "sorry" song, which shows him giving apology over tuition fees U-turn. LibDems slump to below 10%.

Trial date set for ex-News International chief Rebekah Brooks and former No 10 spin doctor Andy Coulson plus 12 others over phone hacking.

October

PM and FM sign Edinburgh Agreement on terms of independence referendum.

Ed Miliband wows party conference with walkabout speech while David Cameron uses his address to back Britain's "do-ers and risk-takers". West Coast Main Line franchise process scrapped due to faulty calculations.

Automatic enrolment of workplace pension schemes begins. Investigation into police wrongdoing following reports into Hillsborough disaster.

November

Lord Justice Leveson publishes report into press ethics and recommends independent regulator backed by law".

After sex abuse allegations against Jimmy Savile, BBC's Newsnight accuses Lord McAlpine, former Tory treasurer, of abuse. ITV's Philip Schofield identifies peer, who denies claims. Newsnight witness admits wrongly identifying Lord McAlpine. BBC Director General George Entwistle resigns. ITV and BBC apologise.

Labour win six by-elections. UKIP pushes Lib Dems into fourth place. Tory MP Nadine Dorries suspended after she appears on I'm a Celebrity.

December

Chancellor's autumn statement confirms Government books not balanced until 2018. Office for Budget Responsibility downgrades growth forecasts.

Coalition backs gay marriage in willing places of worship but plans to make it illegal in Church of England.

Andrew Mitchell accuses Police Federation of "stitch-up" as it emerges email corroborating police log was from serving police officer who was not even present at scene.

Report into West Coast Main Line franchise fiasco finds "damning failure" by Department for Transport.

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