British Press and Social Media

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    Budget: Dr. David Lidington (Secretary of State for International Trade) and Senator Shami Chakrabarti

    Robert Peston: Budget week was, for the first time in a long time, partly uneventful. The Government put forward its case on the economy, touting higher wages, numbers that show that the UK economy grew by 2.2% over the course of 2017-2018 fiscal year. T-Levels, closing loopholes, cutting corporate tax, tech corridors, and innovation hubs litter the budget. Joining me in depth is the Secretary of State for International Trade and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Shami Chakrabarti of the SDP. As always, Allegra Stratton brings us reaction from social media....oh, and there she goes again.

    Senator Shami Chakrabarti: Thank you for having me.

    Dr. David Lidington: Yes, thank you Robert.

    Peston: Dr. Lidington, I see you're wearing a tie, but you know ties are banned! We'll forgive you this time. Let's take a quick look at the budget details. No surprise that defence spending is still tops in there. 26.4% of the budget...£474.6 billion, and BAE must be absolutely giddy as well as the Duxburian aircraft contractors. That procurement budget alone of £47 billion is going to make them very happy. It's an extraordinarily large amount of money, even more if you convert it to the regional currency, euros. Is it right that we are spending this much on defence?

    Lidington: Yes, of course. Even though we are in alliances, we have to be able to defend ourselves effectively. The at sea deterrent of the Trident submarine programme, the new Dreadnought-class which will be in service by 2020, having kept the details of the programme secret. We have to keep the country safe, as it is the number one priority of any government. This Government has done a particularly good job at restoring the serious credibility of the United Kingdom. We have in two years already paid off the procurement of the new vessels and we are looking to continue to increase our capacity, so there may be even more to the procurement budget in the future.

    Chakrabarti: Yes, if you don't count the fact that we are going to be seen around the world as profiteering on war and violence. Look, we could be spending this insane amount of money on defence and putting the UK out there in a posturing way, or we could be focused on building greater infrastructure. We could be shoring up the NHS, which is constantly careening from funding crisis to funding crisis. I mean, it says a lot that Theresa May, Philip Dunne, and Anna Sobury have no idea what sorts of issues the Government has put us in.

    Lidington: Oh come on....

    Peston: Well, defend that, Shami. I mean, the SDP also spent quite a lot on defence. In fact, then Prime Minister Ed Miliband, spent just about the same amount of money on defence as the current Government. You could have spent more on social projects when you were in Government. I mean, you had 18 years to do something about it!

    Chakrabarti: But we did spend on other things. We built High Speed 1,High Speed 2...we did loads of motorway projects....

    Lidington: Yes, and we have build and delivered Stansted and Gatwick expansion, and an Estuary Airport for London, as well as breaking ground on High Speed 3, 4 and 5, all focused on delivering higher speed connection between northern cities like Manchester to Edinburgh, Edinburgh to Dublin, and Leeds to Dublin.

    Chakrabarti: We made sure that the NHS had its lowest waiting times, higher outcomes, and more money for research and development under our watch. It was not underfunded like it has been in 2015 and 2016. There is a serious crisis going on in the services the Government is providing in terms of funding, and the Government tries to hide behind the rhetoric of "encouraging greater productivity". I can tell you, you are more productive when you are sure you are making a living wage for the amount of work the people who work in these services are doing.

    Peston: Alright, but we're on this Government, and let's keep dissecting the budget. Now, the biggest point of contention between the Unionists in Parliament and the SDP is the Britcome, that UK Income Supplement. The Opposition have been calling again and again for the Government to increase the scope of the programme. Well, looking at the budget, it looks like they have expanded the system to the lowest 30% of income earners in the country to get an extra £4,500 a year. How are the SDP going to justify being in opposition to a programme that is now giving 30 million working class people a leg up?

    Chakrabarti: It's not a fair system. Why is the limit the Government is putting on it at 30% of the lowest income earners? If we're going to give people an income supplement, we believe that 70% of working people should get it. It would certainly help the JAMs that the Prime Minister talked about when she came to power in 2015.

    Peston: But is that feasible?

    Lidington: If I can answer that for you, no it is not feasible. Remember that this UKIS or Britcome payment is in exchange for the system of benefits that were so prone to abuse. The Housing Benefit, Child Benefit, etc. It was out of control and it was the SDP who wanted a welfare economy, low wage, high welfare society. We Unionists, believing in one nation conservatism and governing as such, are trying to give people a cheaper system, cutting out £10 billion in administrative costs from the budget and overlap in the Civil Service. We have given the people who receive these a choice to where it goes. Often times, it will go into either a down payment on a car, a down payment on technology upgrades, new clothes, better food, and it will go back into the economy. We have also put the payment on special cards that cannot be withdrawn from ATM's, which means people can't just blow it on more questionable activities that easily. People on benefit before could be taking that and not at all using that to pay bills or better their lives, but spend it all at the pub or on drugs. This system is much more tight and is a better use of taxpayer money.

    Peston: We do see that, but is it right that only 30 million out of 93 million workers get this and the others don't?

    Lidington: But we are also helping all workers save for their future in superannuation accounts that get matching contributions as a combination of Government funds, business contribution via payroll tax, and through the individual at work via the National Insurance Contribution. This three pronged contribution gives people up to £10,000 annually in their superannuation pension account that will accrue interest at 1.5% higher than the rate of inflation, which right now is 2%. With wage growth growing 2.1% ahead of inflation as well, people can contribute tax free up to £200,000 into their superannuation account. We are encouraging savings for the future, and since it compounds twice, the average worker who begins at age 22 and works until age 63 will earn over £950,000 in their state super accounts. From there, they can continue to leave their money in savings accounts and withdraw that money as needed, and it will still compound twice and collect interest. As such, people can also choose to deposit their tax returns into their super accounts.

    Peston: But that's just retirement, how is that helping them now?

    Lidington: That money is theirs, and while there is a small penalty fee of 2%, if they need that money if something happens where they need to withdraw it, people are allowed to take it and use it.

    Chakrabarti: But how is that fair to the people who can't work?

    Lidington: How is it fair to the people who do to subsidise people who don't? We want full employment across the United Kingdom, and we are still covering people with the Government contribution if they have recently lost their job for six months after that. Coupled with the Britcome payment, and it is not like we are leaving the unemployed or unable to be completely out of luck. Those who are proven unable to work can also petition the Government UKIS office to receive the average rate of contribution to their accounts.

    Peston: Shami, that seems like quite solid logic....well, we have to take a break. When we come back, even more budget analysis! We'll look at that NHS budget and how the Government will make sure that each devolved area receives the right amount of money.

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    Politics: Under STV, SDP-SNP Coalition Would Be Likely Says Poll

    LONDON --- As the Government enjoys a popularity that hasn't been seen since the Unionist Governments of Sir John Major and Nigel Lawson, an Ipsos Mori poll questioned voters on their preferred party and ran a mock election with their 10,000 sample size. Under an STV election, the Social Democrats would have held on to power in 2015 with a change in voting system. Similarly, under the Australian two-party preferred Mixed Member Proportional Vote, the SDP would have just held on to power with a parliamentary majority of 2 seats. Ipsos Mori also ran the current situation under the STV and MMP systems and it predicted that the current government would still have a majority under the MMP system, but would have to form a coalition like they did in the Senate, most likely with the Liberal Progressives.

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    Breaking: Internal Rumblings of SDP MPs and Senators Call for Corbyn Resignation

    LONDON --- In an secret meeting of SDP MPs and Senators, Jeremy Corbyn has sounded out the Parliamentary SDP on support. Many say that Corbyn will call a leadership spill. Rumours around Westminster have said that Hillary Benn and Sir Keir Starmer could be running against Corbyn. This comes as polling shows a near 17% gap between the Government and the SDP has opened up in recent days, with the Democratic Unionists holding strong at 42% while the SDP, once polling at 35% lost 10% over the course of June 2016 and the latest polling in March 2017. Heading into the summer of 2017, all eyes will be on the pivot from the 2015 general election aftermath towards 2020 and the future of UK politics.

    Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have also said that the prospect of never-ending Unionist governments that Scotland did not vote for could be grounds for seeking an independence referendum under Section 30 of the Scotland Act 2012. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, nor her Office have made any statement regarding that rumour, nor has the Scottish Government or Scottish Parliament sought to table any documents outlining a proposed referendum on Scottish independence.

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    Breaking: Sir Keir Starmer to challenge Jeremy Corbyn

    LONDON --- The Leader of the Opposition SDP, Jeremy Corbyn, has officially been challenged by the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Sir Keir Starmer. Starmer resigned from the Shadow Cabinet and received 55 of the Parliamentary SDP backing his nomination when he put it forward. Party rules allow for an immediate leadership spill or for a leadership contest. Depending on the results of the Parliamentary SDP meeting going on tonight, the SDP may opt for the leadership spill option. Should Starmer rise to be the SDP leader, he will have quite the time in trying to dissect the Unionist Government led by Theresa May. Currently riding highs, the DUP may coast to the next general election.

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    GuardianPolitics - @GuardianPolUK 45m

    BREAKING: SDP in Parliament vote Starmer as leader #ukpol

    Sky News Politics Desk - @SkyNewsPolitics - 15m

    Rumours in Westminster that Number10 will call snap general election on #IndyRef

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    Scottish Parliament Votes for Independence Referendum; Prime Minister Responds

    EDINBURGH --- The Scottish Parliament, led by the Scottish Nationalist Party and the Scottish Greens, has voted for an independence referendum, timetabled for 2018. Nicola Sturgeon stated that the move is "a historic moment for Scotland, and gives us a choice between Theresa May and her Unionist Government that only works for the rich and crushes the poor underneath it, or a free, progressive Scotland". During the debate on the vote, Scottish Unionist leader Ruth Davidson called the First Minister of Scotland "divisive", saying that her agenda "could rip apart a country that has been together for over 300 years". Scottish Socialist leader Kezia Dugdale has said that she will passionately make the case for the Union, but ultimately the Scottish people would have the choice.

    In London, Prime Minister Theresa May indicated that the Scottish Independence referendum could be a trigger for a snap general election, confirming rumours from several news outlets earlier in the week.

    "The United Kingdom has been together for nearly 300 years, and this union of nations has been one of the most profitable and beneficial unions in the history of Europe. To break it up would be unfathomable, and as the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, I will not simply allow a referendum without a clear mandate from all four nations of the United Kingdom. Political gamesmanship from an SNP government that did not even achieve a majority of the Scottish Parliament does not give His Majesty's Government a clear mandate to seek a referendum. I will use whatever tools necessary, including a snap general election if I must," the Prime Minister said in the front of Number 10.

    A snap general election time table could mean that Britons go to the polls by June 15, casting the SDP leader Keir Starmer into an election only days after he has become the Leader of the Opposition.

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    Breaking: Prime Minister Calls for Snap General Election

    Prime Minister Theresa May has called for a snap general election on the steps of Number 10. She said that "Britain stands at the point from which everything and anything could change." She also charged that the political parties in Westminster were gambling with the future of Britain. This was in regards to the Scottish Parliament passing an independence referendum. The Prime Minister said she believed passionately in the Union and that she would fight to protect the 308 year union of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Nicola Sturgeon has not made comment yet, but it is widely regarded that the SDP will vote with the Government on a general election, causing no obstacle in Westminster for the snap general election to take place.

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    Parliament Votes for General Election; King to Dissolve Parliament

    LONDON --- The House of Commons voted in favour of a general election 382 to 46, with all the abstention votes coming from the Liberal Progressives and the Scottish Nationalists. During the debate on the motion, the Prime Minister reiterated her claim that the Government sought a mandate to keep the Union together and deny the Scottish Nationalists a vote on Scottish independence. As it stands right now, the independence vote in Scotland was reported as 24% in favour, 66% against, with 10% undecided. New Opposition Leader Keir Starmer had this to say about the Prime Minister's ambition to reject the referendum:

    "By creating this issue of Scottish independence and personalising it, she is pushing Scottish independence closer. The SDP would hold the referendum and campaign fervently for the Union in it. Ultimately, it is a matter for Scotland, and by denying the Scottish Parliament its will, it effectively makes the Scottish Parliament and all devolved institutions devoid of real decision making capacity," said Starmer. "We, instead, will fight the Prime Minister during this general election on her record. How has she let the top 10% make over £135,785 while the bottom 10% make £13,000? She stood on the steps of Number 10 after the election and said she'd be a government for ALL the people of the United Kingdom, so how is it that the rich can double their earnings in the two years she has been Prime Minister, but everyone else's earnings stay growing at 8%? These are the real questions, and the Prime Minister instead of answering them, wants to use the SNP as a distraction from her record. This is a Government that has failed on its own benchmarks."

    From Edinburgh, Nicola Sturgeon said that it was ironic that the Prime Minister was accusing her and her Westminster MPs of "playing political games, when the entire stunt of a general election is engineered to block Scotland from having a voice and suppress any real power the Scottish Parliament might have over the future of Scotland". Sturgeon vowed that if the Prime Minister were re-elected, she would seek an independence referendum anyway.

    Theresa May during the debate stated that the choice was very clear for Britain. "Either the people can have a strong government with strong, stable leadership that will continue to grow the economy and grow opportunity," she said, "or you could have a propped up SDP Government, beholden to the will of the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists and the Liberals, with a weak, untested leader in Keir Starmer".

    The Senate has also voted in favour of a general election by a margin of 69 to 30, allowing the Prime Minister to go to the King and ask for Parliament to be dissolved and call for a general election. In the United Kingdom, a general election is run with 428 constituencies in which one MP is elected through a first past the post system for the House of Commons. The Senate is decided by the second side of the ballot, in which people vote for their party of choice, and the seats are filled via a party list. The vote will occur on 15 June, meaning that the State Opening of Parliament will be put on hold until after the general election.

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    United Kingdom General Election 2017, Opinion Polling

    1. Who would be the better Prime Minister?

    • Theresa May, Democratic Unionist Party: 52%
    • Keir Starmer, Social Democrat Party: 38%

    2. On June 15, for which party will you be voting for the House of Commons?

    • Democratic Unionist Party (DUP): 38%
    • Social Democrat Party (SDP): 32%
    • Liberal Progressive Party (LPP): 15%
    • UK Independence Party (UKIP): 6%

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    General Election: While May Surges, Starmer Within Striking Distance

    BIRMINGHAM --- The Prime Minister has some mixed poll numbers ahead of this week of campaigning in the UK general election. She will like the numbers that say that she has edged Keir Starmer as preferred Prime Minister 62% to 28%. The gulf comes from the fact that more people across the United Kingdom find Theresa May more experienced and capable as Prime Minister. Coupled with voters still fatigued with the SDP seems to point a slam dunk win for the Prime Minister. However, her recent Twitter commentary on Turkmenbaijan and Pravoslaviya have worried some who find her a little too internationalist and intervention-seeking, especially after the vote by the Government to resume activity in Dromund Kaas.

    Dragan Trympov, noted Pravoslaviyan leader and colourful character, went on a Twitter tirade when May directed her comments at him, calling the government of Pravolsaviya despotic. He questioned the Prime Minister's health and endorsed her removal from power. By whom exactly and for what alternative government is yet to be known.

    The DUP overall have held firm at 40%, but the SDP have caught up slightly. The Opposition are at 34%, sitting at 6 points back, which would put the Unionists on a slim majority of about 6 seats, which would be down from the 10 that they currently enjoy. Voters across England have been seen to go away from the minor parties and towards the two major parties in this particular election, since it has been cast in a "presidential" light. Keir Starmer has called the Prime Minister out for still not committing to a debate being put together by ITV on May 18 with the SDP, Scottish Nationalists, Plaid Cymru, Greens, and UKIP. ITV has threatened to use an empty chair for the Prime Minister. Her campaign has said that "the Prime Minister is weighing all options and media obligations, and will determine the fate of such debate participation by the May 12 deadline".

    Several SDP MPs and Senators like Shami Chakrabarti, Jess Phillips, Andy Burnham, and Deputy Leader Yvette Cooper have criticised the Prime Minister for not committing to the debates.

    "The Prime Minister knows that she has no answers for questions posed by the moderator or the audience in any form of these debates. She has no plans to make up for the greater income inequality that has happened under her watch. While ordinary families make at most £46,500 a year, the top 10% start at £140,000. Why can't the Prime Minister explain the almost £100,000 disparity between the top in our society and the middle class and lower class?" Yvette Cooper said to supporters in Manchester on Saturday. "She is afraid to take the criticism she and her Government deserve for putting the interests of the rich and international corporations first. She wants to line the pockets of the City of London, Verington, and New Birmingham."

    The election is on June 15.

    written by Mark Dreyfus, political editor and contributor

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    General Election 2017: Government Gets Bump from Manifesto Release

    BERKSHIRE --- The Government got a much wanted boost in its polls ahead of the first televised debate on Saturday. New polling suggests an 8 point lead ahead of the SDP, coming in at 42-34. The Prime Minister, who was out campaigning with Chancellor Sajid Javid in Yorkshire, hoping to continue to push forward and ride the momentum after the manifestos came out from the major parties. The DUP manifesto pledged a redevelopment programme for the North of England, calling it the "Great British Rebuild" after the Great Britsh Bakeoff. In it, the Prime Minister laid out her party's plans to transform the corridor of Britain from York to Manchester to become an industrial hub of new machinery and technology, touting the region's rare earth deposits, some of the largest in Europe.

    "There is no reason that the United Kingdom can't become the destination for assembling the electronics across Europe. We have the potential to compete with the Duxburian Union in electronics manufacturing, but it will take a Government that is committed to rejuvenating the UK economy and establishing a truly national capacity to create these kinds of high wage, high education manufacturing jobs. The Democratic Unionist Party are dedicated to creating this new contract with the British people, through one nation conservative policies and stable, strong leadership in Westminster," Mrs. May said to a gathering of people in York.

    In elections past, Yorkshire would have been left to be the ground of the SDP while the Unionists ran the table in the south of England. That all seems to be changing as the still popular government led by Theresa May continues to push its advantage in Social Democrat heartlands. Keir Starmer has charged the Government of growing income inequality on the backs of the working class and poor to fund the rich and lavish lifestyles of bankers and millionaires and billionaires.

    "We have to ask ourselves: why does this Prime Minister continue to ignore the facts? Economists have all stated that this has been the highest period of inequality since the 19th century, that people in our country are paying for tax breaks for the wealthiest corporations and individuals, and that the policies of this Government have done nothing to mitigate the struggles of ordinary British families. She called this election over Scottish independence, but perhaps she needs to realise that playing political games will not erase her failures as Prime Minister of this country, and she must be held to account," Starmer said to a group of students outside of the University of London.

    Scottish Nationalist leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been campaigning heavily in Glasgow and Aberdeen during the week, calling on the Prime Minister to "right the wrongs of the democratic deficit that comes from London". Seeing that her chance at seeking independence may be limited by a Unionist victory, she has held firm in her criticism that the DUP, which did not win a majority of seats in Scotland during the 2015 election, could not speak on behalf of the Scots and had no mandate. Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood kept it a little less pointed, seeing as the DUP could make gains in Wales on the June poll, which may lead to regional election issues as Wales and England vote for their devolved assemblies on the same day.

    The all important first debate will tell everything we need to know about the election hopes of the Government, the Opposition, and the nationalists ahead of what may be a consequential vote on June 15.

    Written by Emily Bosworth, political reporter

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    General Election 2017: LPP Open To Coalition - Cable

    MANCHESTER --- Speaking before a crowd of Liberal Progressive Supporters, Sir Vince Cable expressed his willingness to form a coalition with the SDP or DUP should a hung Parliament become a reality. Several major predictions from YouGov and Lord Ashcroft have suggested that the Democratic Unionist Party would remain the largest party, but with either a reduced majority or barely short of a majority in the House of Commons. The idea of coalition government has been thrown around quite a bit, and Vince Cable was caught on the side of his Manchester rally to get his view.

    "I think that if we ended up being the decision makers in which we would be able to put one party or the other over the other, we would be open to a negotiation period. It's important for the British people that we be open in case such an event happens," Cable replied.

    Both Theresa May and Keir Starmer said they would not entertain the idea of a coalition.

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    SDP Lays Out Investment Plans

    DONCASTER --- Keir Starmer and the Social Democrats have put out their ideas for public investment in Britain, claiming that the investment would "overhaul how the country works, making it a fairer society where people can make it based on their merit, not by birth and class". The leader of the largest opposition party in Westminster has put forward broad plans for reform of the economy. They included:

    • Increase of spending on public transportation by 2% over the life of the Parliament.
    • Re-nationalising the energy sector at a cost of £12 billion initially, with £3 billion more annually per year (including takeover of BP)
    • Hiring 6,000 workers and putting in more than £8 billion into the Royal Mail, restoring the majority share that the UK Government has in the Royal Mail.
    • Upgrading the telecommunications network to support 5G innovation, estimated at £4 billion over the life of the Parliament
    • Placing tertiary education under complete control of the Department for Education.
    • Increasing UK labour law protection for unions.
    • Reform apprenticeship programme to make all internships paid at a rate of £3,000 annually (£6 billion), paid for by an increase of 2% to the Internship Levy.
    • Increase Universal Credit Welfare Payment (Britcoin) to a minimum of £7,000 annually, except for the top 15% of income earners. No means testing.
    • Raise coropration tax from 12.5% to 25% for non-trading income.
    • Build over 200,000 council homes, half of which around London, Dublin, and Manchester.

    The Workers' Contract with Britain, as the package of reforms is called, has been costed by the Office for Budget Responsibility and Office of National Statistics to add more than £712 billion of additional spending to the budget during the SDP Government. It also could potentially slow GDP growth to 1.8% from the 3.2% it has been under the DUP. Wage growth, however, would be more even across all percentiles of income earners. Theresa May has responded to the release of the contract.

    "It is unfortunate that a great party like the SDP is resorting to populist language rooted in total statism and socialism that would wreck our economy to win votes in this election. Their plans for Britain would make our country poorer, put a bigger dent in the national finances, and it will be our children who pay for it," the Prime Minister said when heading to Edinburgh, where Scottish Unionist leader Ruth Davidson campaigned for more DUP MPs in Scotland, effectively ending the SNP argument that the Government has no mandate in Scotland.

    It is unclear what will come of the announcement in the polls, but with only 10 days to go, the SDP are making a huge political gamble.

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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. 

  • Admin

    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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