British Press and Social Media
Quick Headline: Labour Leadership Challenge Begins
THE dates have been set, and the timetable has started. The Labour Party's leadership contest is now underway, and it looks like Sir Keir Starmer will have stiff challenges from Emily Thornberry, who is looking like the favourite to lead the party, Chukka Umunna, and David Miliband, brother of former Prime Minister Ed Miliband. After losing the 2015 and 2017 general elections, Labour is looking to reset and try and find someone who can either knock down some of Theresa May's popularity, which is cruising at the moment at nearly 70% compared to the near 30% for Starmer, and the party's lead in the polls, which is at 42% to the Labour's 35%.
The vote will be from March 22nd to April 26th, with the result announced April 28th.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Goes to the King to Dissolve Oireachtas, Calls General Election
DUBLIN --- In accordance with the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the Taoiseach went to the King at Dublin Castle and requested that the Sovereign dissolve the Parliament and call for a general election. Leo Varadkar and Fine Gael have waited for this election to since 2012, but with the UK General Election happening in 2017, the Irish election had to wait until at least a year after it. So, with the same Irish Parliament for 6 years rather than 5, the Taoiseach triggered the election to coincide with the local elections across the United Kingdom.
Initial polling suggested that Fine Gael would need a coalition partner to reach another term of government, with Fianna Fail and the SDLP behind a game second and third.
Politics: Thornberry Sets Out Vision for Labour
Tom Sandars: Good afternoon. Today is the 15th of March, and this is the 3 O'Clock news break.
Emily Thornberry, the leading candidate to challenge Sir Keir Starmer for the Labour Party leadership contest has laid out her vision of the Labour Party and its credible plan to get back into Government at the next general election. Here's Laura Kuenssberg with the story.
Laura Kuenssberg (recording): Emily Thornberry sets out her plan to bring the Labour out of Opposition and into Government at the next general election as the leadership contest begins in full force this week. She opened with a launch of her campaign to become Labour leader where she laid out her "Plan for a Better Britain".
Emily Thornberry (recording): With ideas that show the practical, problem solving beliefs that we as Social Democrats, Ordo-Labourites, and traditional Labour members of our party, we can get back into Government. Britain has had three years too many of this Government and the results are shocking. More people in poverty than ever before, more people in part time work, and more people unable to make ends meet when they take home their pay packets. We have seen this Government preside over 30,000 job losses in manufacturing, and Theresa May needs to be held to account over her record. I plan on getting our party and our ideas back into the public sphere and credibly hold this Government to account.
LK: Thornberry, as of now, is a comfortable distance ahead of Starmer, with more of the traditional supporters , what they call the Old Labour Wing of the party appreciating her stance on the economy and working to moderate some of the social tendencies of the party. The remaining candidates, Chuka Umunna and David Miliband, are further to the right, solidly in the Ordo-Labourite wing of the Labour and are expected to push for huge re-nationalisation projects. Thornberry, by comparison, sticks to policies that will bring manufacturing back to the UK like excluding products made by British companies overseas from any tariff-free deals which are considered left-wing and popular among the Old Labour Wing of the party. With Thornberry looking like the favourite right now, all eyes will be on the remaining challengers, including the incumbent, for any further moves. For BBC Radio 4, Laura Kuenssberg.
Ireland 2018: Polling Shows Government Losing Ground
The latest news polling across Ireland with the last week of campaigning ready to go show that Fine Gael (Irish Liberals) has lost ground to Fianna Fail and Irish SDLP. The Irish election could see a hung Oireachtas. The Irish Times/IPSOS poll:
Fine Gael: 28%
Fianna Fail: 25%
Irish Labour: 25%
Irish Progressives: 12%
Poll: Labour Leadership
Who is your preferred candidate to lead the Labour Party?
Emily Thornberry (Finsbury) - 45%
David Miliband (South Shields) - 30%
Chuka Umunna (Streatham) - 15%
Sir Keir Starmer (St. Pancras and Holborn) - 10%
Siobhan O'Rourke: Good evening, I'm Siobhan O'Rourke and you are watching RTE's coverage of Election 2018. Dea-tráthnóna, tá mé Siobhán O'Rourke agus má tá tú ag breathnú clúdach RTÉ ar Thoghchán 2018. We have the exit poll and prediction coming into the studio in a couple of minutes. Who will form the next Irish Government, will it be Fine Gael, the Irish Liberals carrying on more of Theresa May's successes in elections since 2015, or will someone else be in poll position to form government. Perhaps Labour, desperate for a win? Fianna Fail? The Progressives, will UKIP or the Greens play spoiler? Let's find out in a few moments. Joining me in the studio are Australia's dynamic duo of electoral politics, Peta Credlin and Kristina Keneally, and BBC host of Daily Politics, Andrew Neil.
And here is the exit poll:
Labour - 38%
Fianna Fail - 20%
Fine Gael - 23%
Progressives - 12%
UKIP - 7%
Regional Vote - National Forecast:
Fianna Fail (%) 20 Labour (%) 35 Progressive (%) 15 Fine Gael (%) 20 Green (%) 10 UKIP (%) 2
Based on those numbers, we can predict that Labour will have the choice to form the next Irish government, though they will need a coalition partner. At 69 seats, they are short of the 83 needed for an overall majority by 14. They could either talk to the Progressives or Greens as a natural ally, and Fianna Fail if those talks fail. They could also choose a confidence and supply deal.
Fine Gael, the previous government have been reduced to 30 seats, 27 for Fianna Fail, 20 for the Progressives, 19 seats for the Greens and potential zero seats for UKIP, despite a higher vote than they've had in the constituencies.
Irish Parliamentary Election 2018: Labour Largest Party, Looks to Form Coalition
DUBLIN --- The Dail Eirann has been set and including a few overhang seats for the Greens, who had their best result in Ireland ever, the 175 seat Dail will be led by a Labour coalition of sorts. The first coalition negotiations have gone well between Labour and the Irish Progressive Party, and it may result in a confidence and supply measure between Labour and both the Progressives and the Greens. It would be the first Labour Government in the history of Ireland's devolved parliament. Of course, Sir Keir Starmer, who had been preparing for the Irish election before the UK Parliamentary Labour Party decided to start a leadership contest, is touting this as a success of his brand of Labour, while Emily Thornberry says that the credit is due to her ally in Dublin, Brendan Howlin, who is backing Thornberry regionally, as is First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones.
"It is a victory that shows that with the right messaging about making an economy that works for the many, we as a Labour Party can win in traditionally conservative areas of the UK like Ireland, the Home Counties, and the southwest," Thornberry said on the Andrew Marr programme. "I am excited for the new Taioseach, Brendan Howlin, and what he can bring to the Irish Government.
This is also seen as the first political setback to Theresa May, who despite winning two elections (2015 and 2017), will see her party's standing in the House of Royal Councillors reduced, which will mean some key legislation in the future will find a bit of resistance. She also campaigned personally in Dublin for the Fine Gael Irish Government. Now, Labour will hold the Welsh and Irish Governments as well as potentially the Northern England Assembly and London.
What does this mean for the Liberals? Their base is not coming out for the regional elections, where a lot of policy decisions closer to home will be made. However, that may work to Theresa May's advantage as now she has a contrast for whomever will lead Labour into 2022 more widely. Add to that the surge of Scottish Liberals in the SNP-controlled Scottish Parliament and an unstable Labour in Wales, she may find herself better positioned after local and English regional elections in May. The way it could break though is currently hanging in the balance.
Ireland 2018: It's a Government! Labour Signs Supply Deal with Fianna Fail
BREAKING: Labour has reached a coalition deal with Fianna Fail to run the next Irish Government. Taoiseach-elect Brendan Howlin will set out the Irish Government cabinet shortly.
Politics: Liberals Looking to Sweep England, Key Councils After Surprising Poll Trend
NEWCASTLE, PORTSMOUTH, and BIRMINGHAM --- New polling looks to deliver Theresa May and key council seats across the UK in the local and English Assembly elections. The three assemblies in England (Southern England [excluding London], Central England, and Northern England) are looking to be swept by the Liberal Party with Labour's leadership election casting much into doubt, with the result being announced April 14th as voting is going on this whole week via post ballots. As such, the Liberal Party have been doing better campaigning around England, with the Prime Minister showing up in key areas of support.
"The UK Government, complimented with Liberal councils and Liberal assemblies will deliver on our promises to bring prosperity and jobs to England and our whole United Kingdom and make sure that we have public services that get the most out of what we pay for them unlike Labour's vision of bloated, inefficient, and oversaturated public services," the Prime Minister said in Portsmouth. Holding power in Southampton, Leeds, and Birmingham is important for the Liberals, 3/7 under their control is not as bad as 2/7, and bowling a century against Labour in the council elections would be a good sign for a popular Government that seemed to overlook the regional election in Ireland.
Politics: Government to Push for Further Dromund Kaas Action with Allies
LONDON --- The Prime Minister has rode a wave of approval ratings since last year's election, but now with Emily Thornberry elected as Labour leader, the polls have tightened a bit. Couple that with a surprise Labour victory in Ireland and the Liberals' narrow defeat in the Midlands Assembly and now the Government is sitting on a much narrower 40-37 poll numbers.
This policy announcement today has the Prime Minister capitalising on her much stronger national security polling than Thornberry, rolling out plans to meet with the Duxburian and Angleteric leaders to draw out a timeline for the end of the Dromund Kaas War.
"The Government is committed to seeing our allies come to a conclusion to that war that strengthens our national security and the security of Europe; as such, I will be contacting the Duxburian Steward and the Angleteric Prime Minister to see what we can do to bring everything to an end," said Mrs. May at a press conference on Thursday.
House of Commons Endorses Mountenbourg-UK Free Trade Agreement (MUKFTA)
LONDON --- The Secretary of State for International Trade and Development, Priti Patel, with the backing of the House of Commons at a 418-10 majority passed the adoption of the Montenbourg-UK Free Trade Agreement as negotiated by the British Prime Minister Theresa May and her counter part, Xavier Bettel in Montenbourg. The Prime Minister was available for immediate comment:
"It is a landmark agreement and I hope it brings northern Europe agreement and prosperity throughout this year and many years to come. The United Kingdom and Montenbourg have come to realise that we share more in common compared to what many think divides us, and our nations will continue to march together as friends into the future," Mrs. May said before the vote on the free trade agreement came to Parliament after the Senate handed its recommendations down.
Labour Leader Emily Thornberry also hailed the landmark achievement of the deal while pushing the Government to do more to ensure that workers in the United Kingdom would not be abandoned for cheaper labour in Montenbourg.
"Though their economic growth has been encouraging and noteworthy, it is still an established fact that it is cheaper to pay workers in Montenbourg vs. their British counterparts and no where in this deal are there safeguards against companies sending their jobs offshore and to Montenbourg," Thornberry said in her reply to the Prime Minister, one of the first high profile statements she has made in the House of Commons since becoming Labour Leader in May.
Int'l Dev. Secretary: Granger Can Get Over It
LONDON --- It seems that the newfound relationship that Britain and Montenbourg have with each other has once again seen the two nations take opposite sides in a political debate that is heating up. Councillor Emma Granger of Montenbourg has called on other nations to put aside what she calls "selfish nationalism". As the Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt coordinates the Government's response to crises including the Dromund Kaas refugee crisis, of which Britain has taken 100,000 since 2012. She was asked to comment on Emma Granger's statement.
"I can hardly see why someone who is cushy in Europolis instead of dealing with the issues of government back in her home country, where they ought to be focusing on increasing economic prosperity and political freedoms," an annoyed Penny Mordaunt went on record during a meeting with the press on Sunday. "Montenbourg has quite a ways to go in terms of developing itself, which would then give it credibility on these issues. The United Kingdom has been a part of the Coalition of the Willing since 2012, when the European Commission's Premier was kidnapped by a rogue state. It has maintained military presence in Dromund Kaas to aid our allies since then, and we have taken in 100,000 refugees, many of which are families and have now been able to enjoy full British citizenship. No other UK Government in history would have been as open as this one, and I think she is working against us by saying these things. Frankly, she should get over it and focus on another issue."
Mordaunt also took the moment to correct Granger.
"These migrants ARE in fact in Europe already, so when she says they arrive to Europe, what is she saying? Is she implying that Dromund Kaas, which is in humanitarian crisis, is not European? Or perhaps Angleter, Australia, and the Duxburian Union, where these migrants arrive, aren't European? Why is that? Is it because there are brown populations of people living in there? She has a lot of questions to answer for our brothers and sisters in the south of our region. Why are they not considered European?" Mordaunt challenged.
The comments were fodder for Britain's political right, including a fiery Nigel Farage, Katie Hopkins, Julia Hartley-Brewer (former European Councillor for the United Kingdom) and Jacob Rees-Mogg, an unusually high profile backbench MP of the Liberal Party's conservative wing.
"Perhaps Councillor Granger is mistaking the European Union for a United States of Europe project. His Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain will not be bullied around by a Councillor out of her depth and out of her league. I believe that His Majesty's Government ought to be taking significantly less refugees. They are turning into economic migrants. Refugees may have the right to move throughout our European Union, but they should not have the right to work in Britain. They should be taking refuge so that they can return home. That's the point of the term 'refugee', otherwise they are economic migrants who will undercut British wages and take British jobs," Mr. Rees-Mogg said on the Andrew Marr programme this morning.
"I have never seen such a disgrace at the European level, and I remember Maleeka [Liszckoszi]! What a nutter she was!" Mr. Farage said at a UKIP event in Surbiton. "She is basically wanting these nations even closer than they already are, which is too close. It's too late to save the European project. Europe will fail if we continue to allow economic migration in the guise of refugees. Stop the refugees and support UKIP! Our Senators in Parliament will pressure the Government into giving us an in-out referendum on the European Union, and we will continue to be a thorn in the Government and Labour's side. Frankly, Emily Thornberry on the same side as Emma Granger has shown that the Labour Party have become champagne socialist elites in London who have lost the idea that they are supposed to represent regular, working-class Britons."
Farage's UKIP have found greater support among traditional Labour voters in the north of England and some Liberal Party members in the south, and that constituency of socially conservative voters could prove costly in some key by-elections for the Prime Minister and for Leader of the Opposition, Emily Thornberry, in September of this year. The increasingly vocal right-wing of the Government back-bench that include Rees-Mogg, Education Secretary Jo Johnson, Mordaunt, International Trade Secretary Priti Patel, and Foreign Secretary Stephen Crabb, has a presence in the 272 member Government (a 40 seat majority). They number a fairly significant amount of 25 MPs, and have threatened to start crossing the floor if the Government does not get tougher on the refugee issue. Councillor Granger may see that the centre-leaning Theresa May will get held at ransom the more she goes on about refugees, despite the Government having a comfortable majority.
Disunity and back-stabbing have sunk plenty of Liberal Prime Ministers. Hopefully, Mrs. May has some eyes on the back of her head.
Politics: Tories Split on Immigration and Refugees; May Tightens Grip
LONDON and BUCKINGHAMSHIRE --- The Prime Minister is managing an increasingly growing rift in the Liberal Party that looks to be the first political challenge to her government. Mrs. May has stated that the United Kingdom will continue to take in a limited amount of refugees from Dromund Kaas. That seems to be dividing British political society in two: Labour, the Progressive Democrats and the SNP all stating that the Prime Minister is heartless and should be taking more in; UKIP and the right-wing of the Liberal Party saying she should close borders and send the refugees back to Australia or Angleter.
"This is a choice that the Prime Minister must make; Britain was involved in the initial invasion of Dromund Kaas in 2011, and rejoined the Coalition of the Willing in 2015. We have put this much effort into a conflict that has dragged on and forced our allies to pour precious billions into it. Europe is watching, and this Government is failing. If she can't lead on this issue, it is clear that we will need to find a new Parliamentary majority that will end this self-induced crisis," Emily Thornberry, Leader of the Labour Party and the Opposition Leader, said to the media outside of a meeting in Milton Keynes South.
The 1922 Committee, the backbench group of the Liberal Party, would need to be triggered by 15% of the current Parliamentary party which is 42 MPs. Currently the right-wing of the Liberal Party that don't seem to be "May-ites" sits at 35. So a revolt of 7 unknown MPs would be enough to trigger that. However, Mrs. May seems to be willing to clamp down on her Cabinet and on the backbench, dressing down the party in a series of emails about the responsibility of Government and the collective responsibility of the Liberal Party in government. The weight of two election victories on manifestos, one of which she hand crafted herself, is helping her cause. This issue could be a sore spot in her government for years to come.