British Press and Social Media

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    Australians Credlin and Keneally Join UK Election Coverage

    Keneally (left) and Credlin (right) have chaired Australia's top national affairs programme and will be joining the ITV Team

    Joining the ITV News special coverage of the 2017 UK general election tomorrow will be Australians Peta Credlin and Kristina Keneally, hosts of the wildly popular national affairs programme Credlin & Keneally on Sky News Australia. Keneally, a former New South Wales premier and Labor Party member and Credlin, former advisor to the Australian Conservative Party and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull join London Evening Standard Editor and former Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne and former SDP MP Ed Balls for analysis and commentary on the election results. Julie Etchingham and Tom Bradby will head up the conversation as hosts, delivering Britain's top election night coverage from exit polls to last results.

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    Politics: May Shuffles Cabinet

    LONDON --- Newly bolstered and confident Prime Minister, Theresa May, has announced that she will reshuffle her Cabinet. The biggest reshuffle is the ousting of Sajid Javid and putting in place Philip Hammond as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Javid has now been demoted to Chief Secretary to the Treasury, so the two will be working together to plot the continued economic growth plan that the Unionist government has provided the United Kingdom so far. Stephen Crabb has stayed on as Foreign Secretary, and given the title of First Secretary of State. Amber Rudd continues on as Home Secretary. Jo Johnson gets an upgrade into the Education Secretary role. Newcomer to the Cabinet, Karen Bradley, gets put into Business Secretary. David Davis comes into the ever tricky area of Work and Pensions, Justine Greening moved into Health. Kenneth Clarke moves into Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, with Elizabeth Truss leaving that position to handle the Women and Equalities portfolio. George Eustace gets the Rural, Environment and Food Secretary position and Andrew Mitchell comes in at International Development. Former Business Secretary Priti Patel gets the Trade Secretary position, meaning that the more right wing of the party gets allies at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department of International Trade. 

    The reshuffle was expected and it was expected to give Theresa May more leverage over the Great Offices of State, particularly Chancellor and Home Secretary. That is precisely what the Government now has, but the leadership style of Theresa May has been said to be more collegiate, Cabinet style government rather than the Prime Ministerial government dictating to the Cabinet policy. 

    Once the Cabinet is approved by the Sovereign, the Prime Minister will be off to NESTO talks in Dikaioma after the First Session of Parliament. The First Session is the moment in which the Speaker of the House of Commons and Presiding Officer of the Senate are elected, the Father of the House (Kenneth Clarke) recognised, and opening marks from the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition made in regards to plans. After the NESTO talks, the King's Speech will be made on June 26th, followed by debate on the government's agenda.

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    Exclusive: NAP Leader Lord McDonnaugh of Castleford Caught Smoking Illicit Drugs

    SAINT REGINA --- NAP Leader Lord McDonnaugh of Castleford has been spotted in a less than upper crust, Christian image. that the NAP likes to exude for himself. Lord McDonnaugh has been caught smoking various drugs and cigarettes in a night club in Saint Regina. The NAP, a party that is much more conservative than their rival the PoJ and more conservative than Britain's DUP, is looking to get into government. The NAP's demographics of older Nicolezians and ultra-conservatives haven't seen much of a problem with their candidate, despite the rest of Icholasen being far more centrist or centre-left leaning. That, however, may change today as Lord McDonnaugh was photographed smoking, leaving a nightclub after a night of debauchery.

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    Breaking: Shots Fired at Piccadilly Circus

    At 3:25 pm (15:25), reports of shots fired at Piccadilly Circus was sent to the Metropolitan Police. Armed officers and Specialist Firearms Officers are on the scene as the situation unfolds. Eyewitness accounts state that there are several shooters at Piccadilly Circus working out from the area, and one vehicle driver. 

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    London Under Attack

    LONDON --- Terror has struck the heart of Central London as many fled from Piccadilly Circus this afternoon. At around 4 pm, three gunmen opened fire on unsuspecting tourists and Londoners. Panic ensued as one of the gunmen, identified as Kaasian refugee Marcus Jones, took hostages in a nearby Boots. The standoff was short as authorities quickly swooped in to solve the situation, only to see the Boots explode and become engulfed in flames, killing all of the hostages and the gunman inside. The other two gunmen were killed in exchanges with the Metropolitan Police. During all of this, a van went on a rampage down Oxford Street, only being stopped when the van crashed into a fixture. The capital was brought to a standstill as streets were shut down and motorways advising against travelling into London. 

    The Prime Minister and the Government are still acting with MI5 and MI6 to mitigate terrorist threats in the United Kingdom. She laid out the case for Britain to continue to be strong in the face of terrorism in a speech outside of Downing Street late in the evening. 

    "The United Kingdom is strong because of its resilient people, and our beliefs in our freedoms. These cowardly attacks cannot take away the strength of the British people or its allies in its pursuit of its missions and defends its interests. To our Kaasian friends who have called the United Kingdom home...we understand that not all of you are of the same twisted ideology that has guided these terrorists. We welcome you to our country and the Government will continue to accept and vet refugees from Dromund Kaas," Theresa May said on the steps of Downing Street. 

    The toll has risen to 100 people killed from the attack in such a densely populated area, and about 200 injured across London's hospitals. 5 of the people killed were of Derectan heritage, 2 from Angleter, and 1 from Miraco. 

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    Unionist Conference: What Will Be Said?

    BELFAST --- The Democratic Unionist conference will be getting underway any moment now in Belfast, Ireland, and the Prime Minister will be looked at for her response to the recent Piccadilly Circus terrorist attacks, not only by Britons but from an international audience. Entering her third year in Government, the first after a snap general election which will give her an additional 5 years as Prime Minister, she should be poised to tackle the threat of terrorism and shine a beacon of optimistic light into the hearts of the British people at conference. She will also be able to celebrate her increased majority, allowing her a tighter grip on the DUP, which had not taken that much of a liking to her initially for her pragmatic, centrist style of governance. 

    "The Prime Minister is loved by the party," said a senior DUP adviser, "but she's more loved by the public than by her own party room, something which will keep her as leader for many years to come if she can continue to ride this wave. She is the centre-right's Hillary Clinton. Someone they can look up to as getting the job done and increasing her own personal numbers as leader."

    The SDP had their conference in one of their heartland areas, Cardiff, and Sir Keir Starmer went over very well. For someone who had lost an election, usually it would be time to step aside, but the Social Democratic and Labour Party can't seem to agree on a challenger, and Starmer consolidates his grip against the left-wing Corbynites, who also refuse to let go of the fact that Corbyn was deposed earlier this year. 

    "What you should expect," says columnist, radio host, blogger, and former European Councillor Julia Hartley-Brewer, "is a lot of skull-bashing of the SDP and socialism, an extremely strong response to terrorism, a commitment to our allies across Europe that Britain won't retreat in the face of evil, and perhaps more information about the attacks to be given at the conference. One would think that the official Prime Minister's residence would be a good space to put that information out there, but I think the Prime Minister will do well to remind everyone that she is both a political leader of a political party and the leader of the country at the same time. I think she's keen on 'presidentialising' the office a bit, seeing as she is more popular than her party at the moment."

    Other policy proposals will be tighter vetting on citizenship claims (expected, but now hyper focused in the wake of last week's atrocious attacks), the formal devolution of education and regional policing to the devolved institutions (also expected), and maybe a couple of surprise policies that may have been overlooked in the scrutiny of the 2017 election manifesto. 

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    DUP Conference: Theresa May Speaks

    BELFAST, Ireland, UK

    The Prime Minister set out her vision for Britain, and it was an exciting one. She set out Britain's vision for the mission in Dromund Kaas, and reassured Europe Britain would not shrink away from its obligations and responsibilities. In her hour long speech, the Prime Minister showed just how popular she was for the Unionist faithful in the conference. 

    "On the 15 June, the United Kingdom went to the polls and cast its vote after the Government asked His Majesty the King to dissolve the House of Commons. I asked for the electorate to help keep this United Kingdom together and not allow the SNP to drive a wedge between our friends and neighbours. They responded by giving the Government an increased majority. Thanks to a great grassroots campaign, a talented team, and brilliant local candidates, we were able to ensure Britain receive the stability and security it deserves."

    In response to the terrorist attack in Piccadilly, the Prime Minister stood tall. 

    "Many people are using Dromund Kaas as a place to twist around the regime that Kaasians were subjegated under and use it for destructive means. The Sith ideology is wrong and it has no place in European society. It goes against everything we stand for, and it wants to destroy our institutions. Britain will not stand for this poison or for terrorism, and we will work with our European partners to ensure that this is stamped out. I have more information about the attackers and their network. The Darth State of Dromund Kaas is the network that this group operates in, and it is a group that holds no borders. Their ultimate goal is to destroy European institutions, particularly the governments of those nations who worked against it. Specifically...the Duxburian Union, Angleter, and the United Kingdom. I urge Europe to remain vigilant in the growing threat, and that we must make swift, coordinated actions to combat this growing group of terrorists."

    Not much policy was unveiled, as she chose to hound home what the Government was doing on security. However, there were some proposals that caught the ear of the conference:

    • Raising Personal Allowance to £15,000 by 2022
    • Tax reform: changing bands to a simple 15% (£0-30k above allowance), 30% (£30,001-85k above allowance), 45% (£100,000+ above allowance). Dividend income and savings income is taxed at the same rate.
    • Corporation loopholes officially closed, and all corporation tax is taxed at 12.5% (Small Profits, up to £1,000,000) and 25% (Main Rate, £1,000,000 and above profits). Investment companies, open trusts, etc. are taxed at the Main Rate. 
    • Pledge to continue to increase NHS spending in real terms over the life of the Parliament.
    • Extra £3 billion to procurement budget of British Armed Forces.

    The biggest of all the policies, however, was the return of Stamp Duty to the devolved institutions. Its 2% of budget contribution has £15 billion heading back to Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and the three English devolved areas. 

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    Sturgeon to Shine at SNP Conference

    GLASGOW --- Nicola Sturgeon may be delivering the most important speech of her political career as she makes the case to the conference and Scottish people for an independence referendum in the next year, daring to defy London and Theresa May, who won seats in Scotland despite still reaching a mandate to govern in Scotland. At least, according to the First Minister. Her logic may be questionable in a UK-wide election, but in Glasgow, the sentiment has been met with furvor, with the Scottish National Party being solidified as the third largest party in the UK and the largest political force in Scotland. 

    "I like the First Minister," said Margaret, a woman in her 30's. "She's a strong leader, she isn't afraid to fight for a better Scotland. Westminster has only looked out for their friends, cronies, and the Southeast. They haven't done enough for the north of the country, or the other countries in the United Kingdom. The devolution settlement has cut Scotland's budget by £2 billion and I think it's time to have a conversation about where our tax goes."

    It's people like Margaret who have popped up around Glasgow and the Highlands that have given the SNP their political relevance, while the Lowlands and Edinburgh have stuck with the traditional UK parties, Ruth Davidson getting a boost for the Scottish Unionists. So, in the minds of many around Glasgow, it is SNP vs. Unionist Government in London. 

    "It's going to be either an SNP government that is anti-austerity, pro-aspiration....or we get Unionists who take our tax money, take our resource money, and give us nothing back," said Oliver, a farmer from Northwest Scotland. 

    Will the Theresa May bogeyman stick? Only if the Unionist Government in London decides to pick a fight with the SNP. After winning the election, the Prime Minister has largely ignored and given little to the SNP for them to grasp onto. That could change after Nicola Sturgeon speaks at the SNP conference this week. 

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    New Poll Indicates Government Reaching Peak Numbers

    Polling suggests Sir Keir Starmer (SDLP) has some work to do to even stand on the figures he reached during the election.

    SALFORD -- If the Opposition wants to take on the Government and retain the seats they achieved in the previous election, they've got a lot of work ahead of them. An IPSOS/Mori poll, the first after the June general election, shows the Liberal Unionists ahead by 12 points of the Social Democrats (40-28), with the Progressives going up by 1% to 15% That would give the Liberal Unionists another term of government by almost 70 seats, a slight expansion, with the SDLP losing seats to the Progressives, with them gaining some from the SNP, who have tumbled lower. 

    A shock in the polls could be the rise of UKIP after the London terror attacks. Their message of controlling immigration and potentially using British hard power to end the Dromund Kaas conflict and control the European agenda seems appealing to those who feel the country they knew is changing and changing too fast. UKIP entered this polling at 7%, the SNP at 4%, and the Greens performing very strongly at 6% nationally. 

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    Opinion: UKIP not to be ignored at next general election

    The Prime Minister may be popular and bringing the Liberal Unionists with her, but a stiff challenge from the right by UKIP could squeeze this centre-looking Theresa May

    Conference season is a display of where the parties think their future is, particularly the conference after a general election. The SDLP are all over the place and lost, with Keir Starmer charged with bringing a fractured tent on the left together (a tough ask, with the Corbynistas not willing to give up their hold on the party despite losing the leadership). The Progressive Party is a non-entity, the SNP and Plaid obviously can only vote in Scotland and Wales, and the Greens are another non-entity. That leaves UKIP. 

    I worked in Europe as the UK Councillor for a while and leader of the European Liberals, and I was proud of what we were able to do, which is challenge the left on their ideas. Let's be perfectly clear: the left does not have a monopoly on good ideas, compassionate policy, and ideas that would work best on a European level. In fact, a health dose of Euro-scepticism and anti-federalism at the European level keeps us from marching towards a European super state, something that the British public would not have asked for. The integration we have now is enough and perfect the way it is, but there are signs that the union is entering a new phase. 

    Terrorism in London, quarrelling national governments, and the like have been met with abject silence from European institutions, and that is a significant problem. A YouGov survey on the EU showed that nearly 60% of British voters are disappointed in the European Union's lack of effort in the last few years to improve, and 55% want Britain to have a say on whether or not it remains in the EU. In steps UKIP and Nigel Farage and Katie Hopkins. These two political firebrands have re-engaged the right and brought the ideas of controlled immigration and challenged the status quo that more Europe is inherently good in the last two years, and in recent polling, surged the party ahead. In the very immediate moments, Theresa May is immensely popular, followed distantly by Nicola Sturgeon, Keir Starmer, and Vince Cable in that order. Hopkins and Farage could be the double team that leap frogs UKIP into a serious contender on the right, pushing the Government to do the right thing for the country. 

    Ignoring the anger of the electorate and the populism that is starting to bubble, particularly in the centre and North of the country and she risks being a polarising figure, something she is not enjoying. Right now, Theresa May can boast that 80% of the right, and 25% of the left would vote for her party again if an election were held in 2018. That is incredible. Farage and Hopkins, though, are gaining traction with the latest terror attack and are bringing to the front things that the Liberal Unionists didn't want to hear. Hopefully they get it and get it soon, or we could find ourselves with an interesting political 2018 and beyond.

    Written by Julia Hartley-Brewer, Guardian columnist, BBC Radio 4 host of Political Thinking with Julia, and former UK Councillor and leader of the European Liberals

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    Breaking: Scottish First Minister Announces Independence Referendum Bill

    EDINBURGH --- Nicola Sturgeon has asked for an emergency session of the Scottish Parliament to consider, debate and vote on an independence referendum bill, despite the SNP having a minority government in Holyrood. The referendum bill may make it through the Scottish Parliament, as the SDLP and Progressives have not ruled out entirely the idea of allowing a vote in Scotland for Independence, which would grant the proposal safe passage while Scottish Unionists would vote against.

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    Opinion: Sturgeon's Indy Gamble Will Backfire

    Ruth Davidson, Liberal Unionist leader in Scotland, delivering what could be her crowning speech in the Scottish Parliament

    "Scotland's place is in the United Kingdom, steering and leading by example for the rest of the union," said a determined Ruth Davidson on the floor of the Scottish Parliament during the emergency session of Parliament in Holyrood. Many times before has the SNP tried to stoke up Scottish fears of Tory cuts in Westminster, but now it seems there is a chord being struck that puts Edinburgh in direct conflict with London. Many times before in the history of devolution in Scotland, it would have been an acknowledged fact that the Scots would remain in the United Kingdom. In fact, during the SDLP dominance of UK politics and the first Scottish governments starting in 1999, that would have been the case.

    However, the First Minister has done something clever: she has projected on the idea that progressivism and being Scottish are one in the same, and has found a way to put the previous party in power (SDLP) and the UK Government currently (Liberal Unionist) as bed-fellows. Nicola Sturgeon is masterful at casting even the Progressive Party as part of a London cabal to steal away Scottish money and Scottish powers and subject Scotland to humiliation in the union. Therefore, according to her supporters, the only way to escape that fate is to declare independence. 

    It's a nuanced message, but it is a very powerful one that is working to change the political landscape in Scotland, and while Johann Lamont leads the SDLP, she seems less and less viable an option to keep Scotland in the union. Her uninspired, dry, lazy defence of the United Kingdom is trying to toe the line of working with the Liberal Unionists and the UK Government in keeping Scotland in the union and the distancing of the SDLP with the UK Government has led to mixed messaging, bad reviews, and an SNP that is creeping towards the 50% mark in popularity. What's worse, the pro-independence movement, which sat at 20% as late as two years ago, has now crept up towards 40%. That can only bolster Sturgeon's hand. Why the creep upwards?

    It's both the rise of the Liberal Unionists in London and the demise of the SDLP in Scotland that has allowed the SNP to play the progressive, centre-left card. Despite their record being mixed on ideology (personally, I'd describe the SNP as centrists with a very solidly right management of the economy posing as the progressive left and giving a few SJW's a bone here or there), Theresa May and the UK Government are being positioned as the villains. So who will fight for the union?

    Ruth Davidson. That's who. She gave a rousing defence of the Union which will hopefully jog the 60% Scots to call their representatives and tell Nicola Sturgeon not to go forward with this idea, but she may be the only one in Scottish politics in Holyrood or Westminster who could defend the Union now. Despite some allegiances in this paper, I implore all Scots to vote no on this senseless, divisive referendum idea and instead push for devolution at its maximum levels.

    Alistair Darling, former Chancellor of the Exchequer for the Miliband SDLP Government, political commentator for BBC Scotland

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    Scottish Parliament Passes IndyRef Bill; Westminster to Respond

    The Scottish Parliament has voted in favour of an independence referendum in a vote that split across the minor parties and the SNP vs. the two major UK parties. In a move that put Johann Lamont and Ruth Davidson on the same side of politics, it just wasn't enough to overcome the deal that the SNP made with the Progressive Party and Greens (71 to 58). The First Minister laid out her plans to put the independence referendum in September of next year with the support of Westminster.

    "I hope that London will legally allow this referendum to go ahead. Theresa May has been popular across England and Ireland, but Scotland did not provide her with a mandate to govern, the SNP winning the majority of Scottish Westminster seats. We believe that Scotland will be better off away from the United Kingdom as a more progressive, open society that does not wage war with others in Europe and respects the international community. The choice to stay in the United Kingdom should be given to the Scottish people. Clearly, we put referendum in our manifesto and we won the most seats in the Scottish elections, therefore we have a mandate from the people of Scotland to go to Westminster and ask for the Scottish people to be given the choice. I and others in the Scottish Government  believe that we can succeed and be better off outside of the UK, but we will trust the will of the people," Nicola Sturgeon said at Bute House this morning.

    Theresa May has not commented yet, nor have any relevant UK Government ministers. 

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