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Posts tagged ‘Land of the British Empire’

Hundreds of Brexit Party candidates will run in UK election

November 04, 2019

LONDON (AP) — Nigel Farage unveiled hundreds of Brexit Party candidates for Britain’s general election on Monday, and warned the governing Conservatives that the U.K. will never leave the European Union without his party’s backing.

All seats in the 650-seat House of Commons are up for grabs in the Dec. 12 election. Farage says his party will run in almost every constituency unless Prime Minister Boris Johnson scraps his EU divorce deal.

Johnson hopes to win a Conservative majority so that he can break the country’s Brexit deadlock and get his EU divorce deal through Parliament. Farage, who has run for Parliament seven times without success, says he won’t be a candidate himself.

Farage’s party, which was founded earlier this year, rejects Johnson’s Brexit deal, preferring to leave the bloc with no agreement on future relations in what it calls a “clean-break” Brexit. The party says leaving with a deal, as Johnson wants, would mean continuing to follow some EU rules and holding years of negotiations on future relations.

Farage told a crowd of supporters at a rally in London that Johnson’s deal “is not Brexit. It is a sell-out.” Farage called the Conservatives are arrogant for not joining him in a “leave alliance.” “There will be no Brexit without the Brexit Party,” he said. “Of that I am certain.”

U.S. President Donald Trump, a friend of Farage, also urged the two politicians to form an electoral pact, saying last week that Farage and Johnson together would be “an unstoppable force.” But Johnson has ruled out doing a deal with Farage. And Brexit-supporting Conservatives have criticized Farage, saying he could split the pro-Brexit vote and allow the left-of-center opposition Labor Party win power.

Conservative lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg said that “it would be a great shame if he carries on fighting after he has already won to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. “I understand why Nigel Farage would want to carry on campaigning because he has been campaigning for the best part of 30 years and it must be hard to retire from the field. But that is what he ought to do,” Rees-Mogg told LBC radio.

Britain’s unpredictable election taking place more than two years early, and after three years of political wrangling over Brexit. The Labor Party is trying to shift the campaign’s focus from Brexit to domestic political issues such as schools, health care and Britain’s social inequities.

The centrist Liberal Democrats, who want to cancel Brexit, are wooing pro-EU supporters from both the Conservatives and Labor in Britain’s big cities and liberal university towns. Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson demanded to know Monday why she wasn’t invited to take part alongside Johnson and Corbyn in the only televised debate of the campaign announced so far.

She said leaving her out of the Nov. 19 debate on broadcaster ITV would exclude “the voice of the millions of people who voted to remain, who want to stop Brexit.” “It looks like they are sexist, or they are scared, or possibly both,” she said.

Angry voters abandon Conservatives, Labor in UK vote

May 27, 2019

LONDON (AP) — Nigel Farage, leader of the newly founded Brexit Party, said Monday that Britain should get ready to break free from the European Union even if there is no agreement on a divorce deal. His comments came after the Brexit Party and pro-EU forces trounced Britain’s mainstream parties in the European Parliament election.

The U.K.’s governing Conservative Party was all but wiped out in the election to send lawmakers to Brussels, blamed by angry voters for leading Britain into a political impasse and failing to lead it out of the EU.

With results announced Monday for all regions in the U.K. except Northern Ireland, the Brexit Party had won 29 of the 73 British EU seats up for grabs and almost a third of the votes. On the pro-EU side, the Liberal Democrats took 20% of the vote and 16 seats — a dramatic increase from the single seat in won in the last EU election in 2014.

The opposition Labor Party came third with 14.1%, followed by the pro-European environmentalist Greens, who captured nearly 12.1%. The ruling Conservatives — apparently blamed by voters for failing to deliver Brexit in March as planned — were in fifth place with under 10% of the vote.

The election leaves Britain’s EU exit ever more uncertain, with both Brexiteers and pro-EU “remainers” able to claim strong support. The result raises the likelihood of a chaotic “no deal” exit from the EU — but also the possibility of a new referendum that could reverse the decision to leave.

A triumphant Farage said his party would “stun everybody” in the next British general election if the country didn’t leave the EU on the currently scheduled date of Oct. 31. He told a press conference Monday afternoon that it’s not likely that a new Conservative prime minister will be strong enough to take Britain out of the EU by that date.

“The Conservative Party are bitterly divided and I consider it to be extremely unlikely that they will pick a leader who is able to take us out on the 31st October,” he said. British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is stepping down as Conservative leader next month after failing to deliver Brexit, said the “disappointing” result of the European vote “shows the importance of finding a Brexit deal, and I sincerely hope these results focus minds in Parliament.”

But the election is likely to harden the uncompromising stance of the candidates vying to succeed her. There are nine announced contenders thus far, with Home Secretary Sajid Javid announcing Monday he, too, will seek the top spot.

Most businesses and economists think leaving the EU with no agreement on departure terms and future relations would cause economic turmoil and plunge Britain into recession. But many Conservatives think embracing a no-deal Brexit may be the only way to win back voters from Farage’s party.

Boris Johnson, the current favorite to replace May and become Britain’s next prime minister, tweeted: “The message from last night’s results is clear. It is time for us to deliver Brexit.” Labour paid for a fence-sitting Brexit policy in which it dithered over whether to support a new referendum that could halt Brexit.

Some senior Labour figures said after the party’s weak performance that it must now take a strong stance in favor of a second referendum on Brexit, but party leader Jeremy Corbyn has resisted making any clear commitment on this.

UK parties unveil election themes, Trump crashes the party

October 31, 2019

LONDON (AP) — The opposition Labor Party kicked off its campaign for Britain’s December general election with one overriding message Thursday: It’s not just about Brexit. Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn put the emphasis firmly on economic and social issues, calling the Dec. 12 vote a once-in-a-generation chance to transform the country.

Then U.S. President Donald Trump threw a curve ball into the campaign, popping up on a U.K. talk radio show Thursday to slam Corbyn and urge Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson to join forces with arch-Brexiteer and political rival, Nigel Farage.

Tossing aside the convention that foreign leaders shouldn’t intervene in other countries’ domestic politics, Trump told Farage on the British politician’s own radio show that Corbyn would “be so bad for your country … he’d take you into such bad places.”

It was a surreal detour to a six-week campaign that won’t even officially begin until next week. All seats in the 650-seat House of Commons are up for grabs in the early election, chosen by Britain’s 46 million eligible voters.

Corbyn, in his first stump speech, declared that his left-of-center party’s plan would take on “vested interests” and “born to rule” elites — a dig at Johnson and his Conservative party’s big-business backers.

“We’re going after the tax dodgers. We’re going after the dodgy landlords. We’re going after the bad bosses. We’re going after the big polluters. Because we know whose side we’re on,” Corbyn told supporters at a rally in London. “Whose side are you on?”

Johnson sought this election, which is being held more than two years early, to break the political impasse over Britain’s stalled departure from the European Union. He plans to campaign as the Brexit champion, blaming Corbyn’s “dither and delay” for the country’s failure to leave the EU on Thursday as scheduled.

While the Conservatives have a wide lead in most opinion polls, analysts say the election is unpredictable because Brexit cuts across traditional party loyalties. Corbyn wants to shift the election battleground away from Brexit and onto more comfortable terrain: the many versus the few. Labor is hoping that voters want to talk about issues such as health care, the environment and social welfare — all of which saw years of funding cuts by Conservative governments — instead of more Brexit debates.

Corbyn, a fierce critic of Trump, likely won’t mind the U.S. president’s intrusion but Johnson could be a different story. Speaking to Farage on radio station LBC, Trump slammed Corbyn and praised Johnson as “a fantastic man” — but urged Britain’s Conservative leader to make an electoral pact with Farage’s Brexit Party.

“I’d like to see you and Boris get together, because you would really have some numbers,” Trump told Farage, the president’s leading champion in Britain. “I know that you and him will end up doing something that could be terrific if you and he get together as, you know, an unstoppable force,” Trump added.

Yet Trump also claimed that “certain aspects” of Johnson’s EU divorce agreement would make it impossible for Britain to do a trade deal with the U.S. Johnson has already ruled out any electoral pact with Farage’s Brexit Party, which wants to leave the EU without a deal on future relations and is vying with the Conservatives for Brexit-backing voters.

On the other side of the divide, the centrist Liberal Democrats, who want to cancel Brexit, are wooing pro-EU supporters from both the Conservatives and Labor in Britain’s big cities and liberal university towns.

Sticking to his party’s core issues, Corbyn on Thursday called out prominent business leaders — including media mogul Rupert Murdoch and aristocratic landowner the Duke of Westminster — as he painted Johnson’s Conservatives as champions of the wealthy few.

Johnson once again banged the Brexit drum, ignoring his failure to get British lawmakers to pass his Brexit divorce deal and his previous vow to leave the EU by Oct. 31 “come what may.” Earlier this week, the EU granted Britain a three-month Brexit delay, setting a new Jan. 31 deadline for the country to leave and imploring British politicians to use the extra time wisely.

“If you vote for us and we get our program through … we can be out at the absolute latest by January next year,” Johnson said Thursday as he visited a hospital. Johnson is also trying to steal some of Labour’s thunder by promising more money for key public services such as hospitals, police and schools.

Labor is vulnerable over Brexit because the party is split. Some of its leaders, including Corbyn, are determined to go through with British voters’ decision to leave the EU, while others want to remain. After much internal wrangling, Labor now says if it wins the election, it will negotiate a better Brexit divorce deal, then call a referendum that gives voters a choice between that deal and remaining in the EU. The party has not said which side it would support.

“Labor will get Brexit sorted within six months. We’ll let the people decide whether to leave with a sensible deal or remain,” Corbyn said. Corbyn shrugged off suggestions that he is dragging down the party’s popularity. Critics say the 70-year-old socialist is wedded to archaic policies of nationalization and high taxes, and accuse him of failing to stamp out anti-Semitism within the party.

“It’s not about me,” Corbyn said Thursday. “It’s not a presidential election. It is about each and every one of us (candidates).” Johnson’s critics bash the 55-year-old for his long history of misrepresentations and broken promises, and a string of offensive comments that he has tried to shrug off as jokes.

More than three years after the Brexit referendum, Brexit positions have become entrenched and the debate has soured, with lawmakers on all sides receiving regular abuse online. The toxic political atmosphere has prompted some long-time lawmakers to drop out of the race, including Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan.

“Over the last couple of years, I have had to have a couple of people prosecuted for death threats,” Morgan said. “We’ve got to tackle this culture of abuse.”

Health care or Brexit? UK parties pick their election issues

October 31, 2019

LONDON (AP) — The opposition Labor Party kicked off its campaign for Britain’s December general election with one overriding message Thursday: It’s not just about Brexit. Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn put the emphasis firmly on economic and social issues, calling the Dec. 12 vote a once-in-a-generation chance to transform the country. All seats in the 650-seat House of Commons are up for grabs in the early election, chosen by Britain’s 46 million eligible voters.

In his first stump speech of the six-week campaign, Corbyn outlined the left-of-center party’s plan to take on the “vested interests” and “born to rule” elites that he said are hurting ordinary people. The stance was an attempt to pivot the election battle away from the political turmoil swirling around Britain’s stalled departure from the European Union.

Returning to his party’s core issues, Corbyn called out prominent business leaders — including media mogul Rupert Murdoch and aristocratic landowner the Duke of Westminster — as he painted Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives as champions of the wealthy few.

“We’re going after the tax dodgers. We’re going after the dodgy landlords. We’re going after the bad bosses. We’re going after the big polluters. Because we know whose side we’re on,” Corbyn told supporters at a rally in London. “Whose side are you on?”

Britain was supposed to leave the EU on Thursday, and Johnson spent months vowing that Brexit would happen on schedule, “come what may.” But after Johnson failed to get British lawmakers to pass his Brexit divorce deal with the bloc, the EU granted Britain a three-month delay, setting a new Brexit deadline of Jan. 31.

Johnson pushed to have this election two years early in order to break the parliamentary deadlock over Brexit. While Johnson’s Conservatives have a wide lead in most opinion polls, analysts say the election is unpredictable because Brexit cuts across traditional party loyalties. For many voters, their identities as “leavers” or “remainers” are more important than party affiliation.

The prime minister plans to campaign as a Brexit champion and blame his opponents for the delay. “Today should have been the day that Brexit was delivered and we finally left the EU,” Johnson planned to say Thursday in later campaign stops, according to his office. “But despite the great new deal I agreed with the EU, Jeremy Corbyn refused to allow that to happen — insisting upon more dither, more delay and more uncertainty for families and business.”

Labour is hoping that voters want to talk about issues such as health care, the environment and social welfare — all of which saw years of funding cuts by Conservative governments — instead of more Brexit debates.

The party is divided between those such as Corbyn, who are determined to go through with Brexit, and others who want to remain in the EU. After much internal wrangling, Labour now says if it wins the election, it will negotiate a better withdrawal agreement with the EU, then call a referendum where voters will be able to choose between that Brexit deal and remaining in the bloc. It has not said which side it would support.

“The prime minister wants you to believe that we’re having this election because Brexit is being blocked by an establishment elite,” Corbyn said. “People aren’t fooled so easily. They know the Conservatives are the establishment elite.”

“Labor will get Brexit sorted within six months. We’ll let the people decide whether to leave with a sensible deal or remain,” he said. “That really isn’t complicated.” Corbyn shrugged off suggestions that he is dragging down the party’s popularity. Critics say the 70-year-old socialist is wedded to archaic policies of nationalization and high taxes, and accuse him of failing to stamp out anti-Semitism within the party.

“It’s not about me,” Corbyn said Thursday. “It’s not a presidential election. It is about each and every one of us (candidates).” Many British voters are fed up as they face the third major electoral event in as many years, after the country’s 2016 EU membership referendum and a 2017 election called by Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May to try to strengthen her hand in negotiations with the EU.

May’s move was a spectacular miscalculation that cost the Conservative Party its majority in Parliament. It left her unable to get her Brexit divorce plan approved by lawmakers, leading to her resignation and the rise of a new prime minister, Johnson, who took power in July.

More than three years after the Brexit referendum, Brexit positions have become entrenched and the debate has soured, with lawmakers on all sides receiving regular abuse online and in the streets. The toxic political atmosphere has prompted some long-time lawmakers to drop out of the race altogether. Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan of the Conservative Party is among those opting out, citing the abuse she had received over Brexit.

Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly tweeted: “MPs need to be resilient, we understand that a political life is unpredictable and very often stressful. But hearing so many good colleagues, particularly women, leaving Parliament because of online and physical abuse is heartbreaking.”

UK opposition Labor Party to kick off election campaign

October 31, 2019

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Labor Party leader is set to kick off the party’s election campaign, focusing on economic and social issues rather than Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn, during a Thursday speech in London, is expected to say that Labor plans to take on the “vested interests” by targeting tax dodgers, dodgy landlords, bad bosses and big polluters.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought the Dec. 12 election to break the parliamentary deadlock over Britain’s plans to withdraw from the European Union. Johnson blames Corbyn for blocking his Brexit deal and says a Labor victory would lead to further delay.

Labor says that if it wins the election the party will negotiate a better withdrawal agreement with the European Union then call a referendum where voters will be able to choose between that deal and remaining in the bloc.

UK’s party leaders brace for Brexit election

October 30, 2019

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn were set to trade barbs over Brexit and public spending Wednesday when they face off in Parliament for the last time before a Dec. 12 general election.

The House of Commons on Tuesday approved an early election in hopes of breaking the deadlock over Britain’s departure from the European Union. While Johnson’s Conservative Party has a wide lead in opinion polls, analysts say the election is unpredictable because Brexit cuts across traditional party loyalties.

Johnson and Corbyn will trade carefully crafted quips when they face off in their regularly scheduled question-and-answer session. This will be the last episode of Prime Minister’s Questions before Parliament is suspended for the election.

Johnson has told Conservative lawmakers this will be a “tough election.” After three years of inconclusive political wrangling over Brexit, British voters are weary and the results of an election are hard to predict.

The House of Commons voted 438-20 on Tuesday night — with dozens of lawmakers abstaining — for a bill authorizing an election on Dec. 12. It will become law once it is approved Wednesday by the unelected House of Lords, which doesn’t have the power to overrule the elected Commons.

The looming vote comes two and a half years before the next scheduled election, due in 2022, and will be the country’s first December election since 1923. Meanwhile, the Brexit conundrum remains unsolved — and the clock is ticking down to the new deadline of Jan. 31.

“To my British friends,” European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted Tuesday. “The EU27 has formally adopted the extension. It may be the last one. Please make the best use of this time.”

December election? UK ponders early, Brexit-dominated vote

October 29, 2019

LONDON (AP) — Britain appeared on course Tuesday for an early general election that could break the country’s political deadlock over Brexit, after the main opposition Labor Party said it would agree to the government’s request to send voters to the polls in December.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pushing for a Dec 12 election in hopes of breaking the Parliamentary stalemate that blocked his plan to take Britain out of the European Union this month. Earlier this week, the EU granted Britain a three-month Brexit extension until Jan. 31.

Johnson — who has had to abandon his vow to lead Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31 “do or die” — accused his opponents of wanting to prolong the Brexit process “until the 12th of never.” He told lawmakers in Parliament on Tuesday there was no choice but “to go to the country to break free from this impasse.”

“There is only one way to get Brexit done in the face of this unrelenting parliamentary obstructionism, this endless, willful, fingers crossed, ‘not me guv’ refusal to deliver on the mandate of the people — and that is to refresh this Parliament and give the people a choice,” Johnson said.

For weeks, opposition parties have defeated Johnson’s attempts to trigger an election. But now that Brexit has been delayed, Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn said his opposition party would vote in favor of an early election because the prospect that Britain could crash out of the EU without a divorce deal had been taken off the table.

“I’ve said consistently, when no-deal is off the table we will back an election,” Corbyn said. “Today, after much denial and much bluster by the prime minister, that deal is officially off the table, so this country can vote for the government that it deserves.”

Labor’s shift means the U.K. is likely headed for its first December election since 1923. As it stands, Britain is not scheduled to hold a general election until 2022. On Monday, Johnson proposed a Dec. 12 election under a different procedure that required a two-thirds majority in the House of Commons but lawmakers voted it down — Johnson’s third such defeat.

The House of Commons was scheduled to vote later Tuesday on a government bill calling for a Dec. 12 election. Unlike Monday’s vote, it only needs a simple majority to pass. Corbyn’s support means it’s likely to succeed, although opposition politicians could press the government to alter the date by a day or two.

The Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party have proposed an earlier election date of Dec. 9 to reduce the possibility that Johnson could try to pass his EU divorce bill — which would allow Britain to leave the bloc and hand Johnson a major political achievement — before the campaign begins.

“It cannot be the 12th,” said Liberal Democrat lawmaker Chuka Ummuna, who suggested his party could accept a compromise date of Dec. 10 or 11. “We will see what else they come forward with,” he said. “We have got to break the gridlock.”

A last-minute obstacle emerged when opposition parties announced plans to try to amend the terms of an early election to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 and expand the voting base to include citizens of the 27 other EU nations who are living in Britain.

It’s unclear whether those amendments will be put to a vote. But the government said if they were, and they passed, it might withdraw its bill altogether. Johnson took office in July vowing to “get Brexit done” after his predecessor, Theresa May, resigned in defeat. But the Conservative leader, who said just weeks ago that he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than postpone the Oct. 31 Brexit date, was forced by Parliament to seek the extension in order to avoid a no-deal Brexit, which would damage the economies of both Britain and the EU.

Johnson plans to campaign as a leader who has a viable, strong Brexit plan for the country but who has been stymied by an anti-democratic opposition and a bureaucratic EU. On Tuesday, he accused opponents of betraying voters’ decision to leave the EU. He declared that without an early election, the British government would be like the cartoon character Charlie Brown, “endlessly running up to kick the ball only to have Parliament whisk it away.”

An election is a risk, though, not only for Johnson’s Conservatives but also for Labor. Opinion polls currently give Johnson’s Conservatives a lead over Labor, but there’s a strong chance that an election could produce a Parliament as divided over Brexit as the current one. And the last time a Conservative government called an early election, in 2017, it backfired, and the party lost its majority in Parliament.

Voters are wary of politicians from all sides after more than three years of Brexit drama, and all the parties are worried about a backlash from grumpy voters asked to go to the polls at the darkest, coldest time of the year.

“We all know that a poll in December is less than ideal,” said Pete Wishart, a lawmaker with the opposition Scottish National Party. “But it is worth that risk in order that we remove this prime minister.”

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