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BBC News: Feb 16 -
#1
EU deal gives UK special status, says David Cameron

David Cameron says a deal struck with EU leaders will give the UK "special status" and he will campaign with his "heart and soul" to stay in the union. The agreement, reached late on Friday after two days of talks in Brussels, gives the UK power to limit some EU migrants' benefits. It also includes a treaty change so the UK is not bound to "ever closer union" with other EU member states, he said.

However, EU exit campaigners said the "hollow" deal offered only "very minor changes".

Mr Cameron is set to the announce the date of a referendum on whether Britain should remain in the EU after a cabinet meeting tomorrow. Once the date is announced, ministers will be allowed to campaign for whichever side they want - one of Mr Cameron's closest political allies Michael Gove has already been named as supporting the Leave camp. Others, such as Iain Duncan Smith are expected to follow - but a question mark remains over which way London Mayor Boris Johnson will jump.

The key points of the deal are:
  • An "emergency brake" on migrants' in-work benefits for four years when there are "exceptional" levels of migration. The UK will be able to operate the brake for seven years
  • Child benefit for the children of EU migrants living overseas will now be paid at a rate based on the cost of living in their home country - applicable immediately for new arrivals and from 2020 for the 34,000 existing claimants
  • The amending of EU treaties to state explicitly that references to the requirement to seek ever-closer union "do not apply to the United Kingdom", meaning Britain "can never be forced into political integration"
  • The ability for the UK to enact "an emergency safeguard" to protect the City of London, to stop UK firms being forced to relocate into Europe and to ensure British businesses do not face "discrimination" for being outside the eurozone

Mr Cameron had originally wanted a complete ban on migrants sending child benefit abroad but had to compromise after some eastern European states rejected that and also insisted that existing claimants should continue to receive the full payment. On how long the UK would be able to have a four-year curb on in-work benefits for new arrivals, Mr Cameron had to give way on hopes of it being in place for 13 years, settling for seven instead.

The agreement on renegotiating the UK's EU membership was announced by European Council president Donald Tusk, who tweeted: "Deal. Unanimous support for new settlement for #UKinEU." German Chancellor Angela Merkel predicted the package of reforms would "elicit support in the UK for the country to remain in the EU".

UKIP leader Nigel Farage tweeted: "This is a truly pathetic deal. Let's Leave the EU, control our borders, run our own country and stop handing £55m every day to Brussels. I believe in Britain. We are good enough to be an independent, self-governing nation outside of the EU. This is our golden opportunity."
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#2
EU referendum: Cameron sets June date for UK vote

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The UK will vote on whether to remain in the EU on Thursday 23 June, Prime Minister David Cameron has said. The prime minister made his historic announcement in Downing Street after briefing the cabinet. He said he would be campaigning to remain in a reformed EU - and described the vote as one of the biggest decisions "in our lifetimes".

The referendum date announcement comes after renegotiations on the UK's relationship with Europe were finalised on Friday night after intense wrangling at a two-day summit in Brussels.

The agreement, which will take effect immediately if the UK votes to remain in the EU, include changes to migrant welfare payments, safeguards for Britain's financial services and making it easier to block unwanted EU regulations. Some Conservative MPs have announced their intention to back the prime minister. The Labour Party, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems are also in favour of staying in.

But many Conservatives have announced they will back the leave campaign including Mr Cameron's long-time ally, Justice Secretary Michael Gove. London Mayor Boris Johnson, who has previously been a Eurosceptic, has yet to declare where he stands.

According to the latest opinion polls, the British public are thought to be fairly evenly split.

In his statement, Mr Cameron warned that leaving the EU would be a "leap in the dark" as he urged voters to back his reform deal.

"The choice is in your hands - but my recommendation is clear. I believe that Britain will be safer, stronger and better off by remaining in a reformed European Union."

Home Secretary Theresa May said the EU was far from perfect but "for reasons of security, protection against crime and terrorism, trade with Europe, and access to markets around the world" it was in the national interest to remain in.

Leader Jeremy Corbyn voted for Britain to leave the European Economic Community, as the EU was then known, in 1975 but has since changed his mind, arguing that "it brings investment, jobs and protection for British workers and consumers".

He branded Mr Cameron's negotiations a "sideshow" aimed at appeasing critics in the Conservative Party and said he had missed an opportunity to protect jobs and "stop the spread of low pay".

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in a statement the SNP will be "leading the positive case to keep Scotland in the EU".
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#3
Corbyn considers EU Leave vote

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Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has refused to rule out campaigning to leave the European Union in June's referendum, making a number of comments critical of the current direction of the bloc.

"I would advocate a Leave vote if we are going to get an imposition of free market policies across Europe," Mr Corbyn told a Labour meeting. He went on to criticise the "growing military links" with Nato and the bloc "just allowing a business free-for-all across Europe". "The project has always been to create a huge free-market Europe, with ever-limiting powers for national parliaments and an increasingly powerful common foreign and security policy," said Mr Corbyn.

Despite not committing himself to a side in the forthcoming referendum campaign, he pledged to make the "powerful socialist case for reform and progressive change in Europe".

Mr Corbyn has long opposed the supranational entity, voting to the leave the predecessor EEC in the 1975 referendum. In Parliament, he opposed both the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties, often seeing him ally with right-wing Conservative MPs on the issue.
Andy
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#4
Cameron under pressure over leaked Brexit memo

Cameron has come under pressure after a leaked memo suggested that the Prime Minister was prepared to sack his Brexit-supporting colleagues in cabinet after the vote. "The Prime Minister places a significant premium on the loyalty of his cabinet and ministerial colleagues and has therefore started to consider replacements for those positions currently occupied by the most prominent supporters of the Leave campaign."

It goes on to say that "while removing all would be impossible, the most vocal and prominent - including Iain Duncan Smith and the Energy Minister of State- are clearly in an untenable position."

Collective cabinet responsibility has been suspended ahead of the referendum, with a minority of the cabinet choosing the support the Leave side - including Cameron's political ally, Michael Gove.

Key pro-leave MPs in the Conservative Party have been quick to react to the leaked memo, with Peter Bone saying that it was "desperate" and an attempt by the Prime Minister to "bully his friends and colleagues into falling in line." 

Downing Street's Official Spokesperson has said that he "does not recognise" the memo.
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#5
Labour MPs defeat Corbyn, but he stays as leader

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Labour MPs have passed a vote of no confidence in their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, although the action will not remove him from his post. The vote comes on the back of sackings and resignations from the Shadow Cabinet following Mr Corbyn's refusal to rule out campaigning to leave the EU in the forthcoming referendum.

The parliamentary party voted against the leader by 172 votes to 40, with four spoiled ballots and thirteen absentees. However, Labour Party rules do not require him to resign as a result of the vote. Mr Corbyn refused to step down voluntarily as leader after the vote, saying that the ballot had "no constitutional legitimacy" and that he would not "betray" the members that elected him in the 2015 leadership election.

In the past days, at least 20 MPs have resigned from the Shadow Cabinet. The mass resignations were triggered by the sacking of the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Hilary Benn, after he contacted fellow MPs about his loss of confidence in Mr Corbyn following the leader's comments on his views about Britain's membership of the EU.

As the result was announced, the Scottish National Party contacted the Speaker of the House of Commons to argue that they should become the official Opposition. They claim that the lack of support among Labour MPs for their own frontbench demonstrates that Labour are unable to fill the role.
Andy
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I forget Andy has political opinions. I always just think of him as a Civil Servant in real life - Mac
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#6
Cameron had stake in father's offshore fund, Panama Papers Reveal

David Cameron owned shares in an offshore fund set up by his late father, leaked documents have revealed. The so-called "Panama Papers" revealed that Blairmore Holdings, a fund for investors which, until 2006, used "bearer shares" to protect its clients' privacy. Ian Cameron, who died in 2010, was one of five UK directors who flew to board meetings in the Bahamas or Switzerland.

It has now been revealed that Mr. Cameron owned shares in the company, but that they were sold in 2010. It is unknown whether Mr. Cameron knew of the nature of the arrangement, and Downing Street said today that the Prime Minister has paid all tax he owes.

On Thursday Mr Cameron told ITV News: "I don't have anything to hide. I'm proud of my dad and what he did and the business he established... I can't bear to see his name being dragged through the mud." Mr Cameron said the fund was "properly audited" and reported to the Inland Revenue every year. Anyone who bought units in it was subject to capital gains tax when shares were sold, he said.

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said that while there was no suggestion of illegality, it would be "politically embarrassing" for Mr Cameron to be associated with a company which did not pay tax in the UK, at a time when he was trying to encourage overseas territories to be more transparent about tax and was trying to clamp down on tax havens.

Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson said it was an "extraordinary admission": "David Cameron, who described the use of complex tax avoidance schemes as "morally wrong", has been forced to admit that he held shares in a fund now linked to tax avoidance."
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#7
Labour to elect a new leader

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Labour's National Executive Committee have ruled that a leadership election must take place, and that Jeremy Corbyn will not automatically be on the ballot. It is thought that the decision will prevent Mr Corbyn from standing, ending his spell as Labour leader.

The NEC ruled that a sufficient number of nominations from the Parliamentary Labour Party have been received to require a full new contest. The party's governing body also decided, in a secret ballot, that an incumbent leader will not automatically get on the ballot, and must instead seek nominations like any other MP. As Mr Corbyn required the assistance of MPs who didn't support him to get on the 2015 ballot in the first place, it is expected he won't be able to gain the necessary number of nominations from fellow MPs this time either. The decision will effectively block Mr Corbyn out of the new contest, and therefore his time as leader is over.

The NEC also decided to not allow members who joined the party in the past few months to vote in the leadership election, disallowing the participation of many new members who had joined since Mr Corbyn became leader. Instead registered supporters have only days to register, at a fee of £25, to be entitled to vote.

The decision came following the presentation of conflicting legal statements over the interpretation of the party's constitution. Party-commissioned legal analysis states Mr Corbyn needs the nominations, just like any challenger, but legal advice sought by Unite and other unions say, as existing leader, he should automatically qualify for the ballot.
Andy
Advisor for the Labour Party, the Home Office and the Department for Environment, Communities, and the Regions
Poll wrangler and election psephologist
Scandalmonger

I forget Andy has political opinions. I always just think of him as a Civil Servant in real life - Mac
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#8
Cameron resigns after "unbearable pressure" 

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has issued a shock resignation after a scandal-rocked few days, saying that he had come under "unbearable pressure - both personally and from colleagues - to walk away. A former Prime Minister much wiser than I said that once the curtain falls it is time to get off the stage, and that is what I intend to do."

The resignation comes as a shock. Our political editor, Norman Smith, said that "the Prime Minister has come under incredible pressure over the past couple of days but no one quite anticipated his resignation: there was no smoking gun. However, I am hearing that there was a grassroots move against the Prime Minister from pro-leave elements of the Party and that there was a plan afoot to issue a vote of no confidence - with a prominent cabinet minister planning to resign and take up the challenge as a so-called 'stalking horse'. This may well be a matter of the Prime Minister walking before he is pushed."

The resignation throws Westminster into turmoil, with the referendum to leave the EU only four months away. Cameron had been the de facto head of the campaign.

In response to the Prime Minister's resignation, Labour said that he left behind a "legacy of division and pain," and said that whoever replaced him "needs to bring to an urgent end the politics of austerity."
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#9
Two in race to replace Cameron

Two candidates have emerged as potential Prime Ministers after securing enough support to make it onto the ballot, Conservative Central Office has announced.

Caroline Blakesley, the MP for Cambridgeshire South East and Secretary of State for Business faces the relative unknown Christopher Baxter, MP for Chichester.

Neither candidate has yet to make a public statement outlining their proposals for government. However both are understood by friends to be broadly supportive of David Cameron but wiht different opinions on the European Union. "No one is going to rock the boat on Cameron's domestic legacy," one insider told the BBC. However, Ms. Blakesley is understood to be in favour of remaining in the EU whereas Mr. Baxter is understood to prefer to leave - though it is unclear whether, given the Prime Minister's challenges over the past week, either would actively campaign one way or the other..
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#10
Blakesley becomes Tory Leader after Baxter drops out

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Caroline Blakesley has been announced as the next leader of the Conservative Party after her opponent, Christopher Baxter, dropped out without explanation earlier today.

Speaking after the announcement, the new Leader of the Conservative Party had the following to say:

Quote:I am humbled and honoured by the trust placed in me by my colleagues in the Conservative Party. I, along with the country, owe a great deal of gratitude to David Cameron for his service and the great deal that he accomplished leading our country from the depths of recession. The cause that we were elected upon - of ensuring choice for Britons, of a nation that stands strong and resolute in the world, of an economy that encourages enterprise and rewards work, of building a society that is not overwhelmed by the state - remains our cause. And now the work must continue, the work shall continue, such that the dreams and aspirations of the peoples of our great island home can be achieved.

Our political editor, Norman Smith, spoke to us earlier. 

"What was notable by its absence from the new Conservative Leader's statement was the upcoming EU referendum. It will be an issue she will need to address soon - will it still take place in June, what side will be be backing, does she stand by the deal that David Cameron made with the EU - but for now she wants to emphasise that she will be continuing on with David Cameron's work."

"It is still not clear why Christopher Baxter decided to withdraw - but some suggest it may be because he expected he would lose. His withdrawal has disappointed colleagues who had hoped for a pro-Leave Prime Minister. There was an impromptu 'rally for Baxter' yesterday on Parliament square, but the grassroots support for a Leave Prime Minister didn't look like it was translating into support for one among Conservative MPs."

Caroline Blakesley is expected to go to Buckingham Palace shortly where she will be invited to form a Government.
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#11
Angus Robertson to resign Moray seat

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Westminster was stunned earlier today to learn that the Scottish National Party's Westminster leader is to resign his post and his seat to "focus on Scottish national politics". The move comes amid a mild expenses scandal for Mr Robertson as he was recently found to have charged the tax payer for many luxury improvements to his second home including £400 for a home cinema system and over £1100 for a television. Mr Robertson refused to pay back the money which is understood to have made many in his parliamentary party angry with one close colleague calling it "a disgrace to the office he holds and a distraction from the pursuit of Scottish Independence". It is unknown who will run to replace him, but the by-election will be scheduled soon.
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#12
Parliament approves welfare changes

Parliament has approved sweeping welfare changes that remove the previous government's child poverty targets; freeze working age benefits for the next four years; and introduce a new commitment to "full employment".

The government won the final vote on the Bill with a reduced majority of 9, after eight of its own MPs abstained on the legislation after raising concerns about ongoing cuts to tax credits.

The legislation was necessary in order to implement the £12 billion of cuts to welfare promised by the previous Chancellor, George Osborne, who claimed that the cuts were necessary to create a "low tax, low welfare, high wages" economy.
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#13
CBI calls for Prime Minister to "make the case" for the EU as it warns Brexit could cost £100bn and nearly 1m jobs

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Leaving the European Union would cause a serious shock to the UK economy that could lead to 950,000 job losses and leave the average household £3,700 worse off by 2020, a report commissioned by the CBI business lobby group has warned. In a stark warning, an analysis conducted by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers for the CBI said that Brexit could cost the UK economy £100bn – the equivalent of 5% of GDP – by 2020 and would cause long-lasting economic damage from which it would never recover.

Household incomes could be between £2,100 and £3,700 lower if Britain voted to leave the EU, while the UK’s unemployment rate, currently one of the lowest in the EU at 5.1%, would be between 2 and 3 percentage points higher, with 950,000 jobs potentially lost.

Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director general, said: “This analysis shows very clearly why leaving the European Union would be a real blow for living standards, jobs and growth. The savings from reduced EU budget contributions and regulation are greatly outweighed by the negative impact on trade and investment. Even in the best case this would cause a serious shock to the UK economy.”

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of Vote Leave, said: “Even in the CBI’s skewed choice of scenarios for exit, they are forced to admit that employment and the economy will continue to grow after we Vote Leave.

“The EU funded CBI are desperate to recreate the same scare stories they spread when they urged Britain to scrap the pound and join the euro. They were wrong then and they are wrong now. If we want to take back control and strike the kind of free-trade deal the CBI refuses to even consider, the only safe option is to Vote Leave.”

The analysis comes a week after the CBI published a survey of its members, which employ a third of all private sector employees in Britain. It found that 80% believe being part of the EU is best for their business and 77% said it was better for the UK economy as whole.

The CBI has called on the Prime Minister to make a "positive and clear case" for staying in the EU. "David Cameron was prepared to stand up for the best interest of business and of working people in Britain," Carolyn Fairbairn said. "The Prime Minister should devote that same level of commitment and passion to the cause, or she risks Britain sleepwalking off an economic cliff."
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#14
Junior Doctors strike for third time and warn that action will "escalate"

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Junior Doctors are staging their third set of industrial action in a long-running dispute over their new contract, which was imposed by Jeremy Hunt in February. The new contracts are due to go out in May and will come into force from August.

The latest walkout is the third in the long-running dispute, but the first to last 48 hours. So far 19,000 operations and treatments have had to be postponed because of industrial action. The NHS carries out about 30,000 procedures a day.

This week's walkout is the first of three 48-hour stoppages planned by the British Medical Association as it continues its fight against the government's plans. The next two are planned for April.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, which represented the government in talks, said it was "hugely disappointing" that doctors were taking action as the contract was "safe, fair and reasonable". He said the strike would be causing "much disruption to patients and their families which is completely unnecessary".

Dr Johann Malawana, the BMA's junior doctor leader, said the strike had been well supported by the profession with 147 picket lines taking place. "We deeply regret the disruption to patients and we remain open to talks with the government to try and resolve this dispute."

But he added: "If the government wants more from an already overstretched workforce it will need to ensure there are more doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals, alongside additional funding. The appointment of a new Prime Minister and a new Health Secretary is a golden opportunity to end this dispute - and it has to start with ending the unfair imposition of a new contract."
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#15
Brussels attacks: Two brothers behind Belgium bombings

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Two of the suicide bombers who carried out attacks in Brussels on Tuesday have been named as brothers Khalid and Brahim el-Bakraoui, Belgian nationals. The federal prosecutor said Brahim was part of the attack at Zaventem airport that killed 11 people. Khalid struck at Maelbeek metro, where 20 people died. Two other attackers at the airport have not yet been identified. One of them was killed in a firefight with armed police, the other is currently on the run. The Belgian Prime Minister indicated that there is is to be three days of national mourning. The nation held a minute's silence at midday (11:00 GMT) on Wednesday. Belgium's king and queen have visited the airport and met some of the 300 people injured in the attacks. About 150 people remain in hospital, 61 in intensive care. The so-called Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mr Van Leeuw (the Belgian Federal Prosecutor) told reporters that a taxi driver said he had picked up the three men from an address in the Schaerbeek area of Brussels. This apartment was raided later on Tuesday and bomb-making materials, including 15kg (33lb) of high explosive, were found. A note from Brahim el-Bakraoui was found in a nearby rubbish bin. In it, he wrote: "I'm in a hurry. I don't know what to do anymore, they're looking for me everywhere. I'm not safe anymore. If I give myself up they'll put me in a cell." Mr van Leeuw said the two brothers were known to police and had criminal records. They were identified by DNA records. Khalid el-Bakraoui appears on the Interpol website. It says that he is being sought for terrorist activities. The Turkish Government later said Brahim was detained by their immigration officials on the border with Syria in June 2015. They deported him to Belgium with the warning that he was a "foreign fighter" but the authorities let him go. Belgium has not yet responded to the claims.
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#16
BMA calls off strikes after government "u turns" on contract

The BMA has called off all planned industrial action "For the time being" after the government reversed plans to impose the new contract this year. That means that doctors will not be forcibly moved onto new terms and conditions this year.

The BMA welcomed the move and said that it was willing to negotiate. "We have never been opposed to reform that could give hospitals the flexibility to provide a 7 day service. We are happy to return to the negotiating table in good faith now that the imminent threat of a dictatorial imposition of the contract has been removed."

While the threat of imposition has been removed, differences still remain between the government and the BMA. The government remains committed to a 7 day NHS that would require smaller premiums for weekend working- a key sticking point with the BMA, which argues that could lead to overworked staff.
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#17
SNP wins Moray by-election
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The SNP have held the seat of Moray in a by-election, following the resignation of the party's former Westminster leader Angus Robertson.

The SNP held the seat with a small swing toward them from the second place Conservative Party, although the majority is much reduced as a result of the smaller turnout. Labour fell to fourth place, beaten to third by Ukip. The Liberal Democrats finish sixth, behind the Scottish Greens, losing their deposit.

SNP: 17,573
Conservative: 11,140
Ukip: 1,968
Labour: 1,804
Scottish Greens: 1,071
Liberal Democrats: 939
Monster Raving Loony: 76
Give Me Back Elmo: 12




Sadiq Khan elected Mayor of London
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Labour's Sadiq Khan has been elected as Mayor of London, beating Conservative rival Zac Goldsmith by 55% to 45%. In the election to the London Assembly, the Conservatives increased their share of the vote, but not by enough to gain any seats. Ukip gained their first London Assembly seat since their previous members defected to Veritas, and later One London, in 2005. The Ukip list seat came at the expense of the Lib Dems, whose representation is halved to one.

Sadiq Khan: 1,258,397
Zac Goldsmith: 1,046,360

Labour: 12 seats
Conservatives: 9 seats
Green: 2 seats
Ukip: 1 seat
Liberal Democrats: 1 seat



SNP stay in power at Holyrood
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The SNP will continue to form the Scottish Government alone following elections to the Scottish Parliament.

They remain 1 seat short of an overall majority, but will be supported by the Scottish Greens, who are also pro-independence. Labour remain as the main opposition party, as predicted Conservative gains were much smaller than had previously been expected.

SNP: 64 seats
Labour: 31 seats
Conservatives: 24 seats
Scottish Greens: 5 seats
Liberal Democrats: 5 seats
Andy
Advisor for the Labour Party, the Home Office and the Department for Environment, Communities, and the Regions
Poll wrangler and election psephologist
Scandalmonger

I forget Andy has political opinions. I always just think of him as a Civil Servant in real life - Mac
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#18
Markets tumble after Brexit vote as Chancellor and Bank of England urge calm

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Wall Street and the FTSE 100 both fell sharply in a wild day of trading after the UK voted for Brexit. The London blue-chip index fell 7% in early trading to just over 5,800 points but ended the day 3.15% lower at 6,138. The market was buoyed by the fall in the pound, which increases the earnings of dollar-trading multinationals - but domestic companies fared much more poorly.

New York and European markets all suffered even bigger falls, with the Dow Jones posting its biggest one-day slide in almost five years. Sterling also plunged, falling more than 8% against the dollar and 6% against the euro.

Credit rating agency Moody's cut the UK's outlook from stable to negative on Friday night, saying the Brexit vote could result in weaker economic growth.

The London market regained some poise after the Bank of England pledged to intervene to help shore up the markets, and after the Chancellor made a statement urging calm and saying that "Britain is, and always will be, open for business".

Governor Mark Carney said the Bank was prepared to provide £250bn to support the markets, but added that "some market and economic volatility can be expected as this process unfolds". The European Central Bank also said it was closely monitoring financial markets and was in close contact with other central banks.

UK banks were hit hard, with Lloyds closing 21% lower, Royal Bank of Scotland fell 18.8% and Barclays shed 17.7%. The Government -as a major shareholder in many banks - has lost "billions" according to some analysts.
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#19
The United Kingdom votes to LEAVE the European Union

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Mark the date, the 23rd of June 2016, the day the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. The vote was close, the campaign polarising, the result frankly weird, but in about two years the UK will no longer be in the EU and will indeed be forging its own new path. This campaign pitted Labour against Labour, Tory against Tory, Cabinet Minister against Cabinet Minister but the dust has settled with two parties fundamentally changed by the battle with a newly Independent MP, a Cabinet split down the middle, and a Prime Minister desperately struggling to keep a hold of her job. Let's analyse the campaign and the fallout in turn and see what happened.

The Campaigns

The Leave Campaign focused initially on selling their message on Brexit, they appeared to have agreed on a cross-party basis what Brexit means with everyone from the Foreign Secretary to the Shadow Cabinet Leavers to UKIP agreeing that Brexit meant leaving the Customs Union and leaving the Single Market. They pushed this line in speeches across the land with billboards emphasising an £8bn "Brexit Dividend" as some put it as well as the potential of a closed border and more immigration control and the possibility of more trading deals, presumably with the Commonwealth, the United States, the G7, and the BRIC and MINT economies. Towards the end of the campaign the gloves well and truly came off with more personal attacks being directed at certain prominent remain campaigners such as the Public Services Secretary JJ Kapplin and the Leader of the Opposition Amelia Lockhart. The latter in particular was subject to a great deal of attacks based on the supposed contents of a letter she had penned which it was accused compared the Leave Campaign to the Fascists of Mussolini's Italy in and before the Second World War. It is unclear whether these tactics were effective or not but psephologists posit that the attacks on Ms Lockhart may well have contributed to the high Tory Brexit vote and the more reserved Brexit turnout in Labour voting areas. All in all the Leave Campaign waged a unified campaign across the party lines which may well explain why they won but we cannot be sure of that for certain.

The Remain Campaign started sluggishly and were punished for it in the polls with Leave taking early leads almost across the board. A lack of high impact materials and high profile engagements at the national and local level was reflected in up to 5pt leads for Leave at the 33% mark of the campaign. The Remain Campaign was accused by the leavers of using "Project Fear" in regards to its continued use of the benefits of the European Union and its continued insinuation that Brexit would lead to all of that being lost. It is unclear yet whether or not that is indeed the case but with the presumed imminent publishing of the Brexit White Paper in the Foreign Office we may well become a little more clear as to what Brexit will mean in areas such as mutual defence, cooperation on nuclear tech, and security cooperation across Europe. The Remain Campaign was criticised by many Tory activists, mainly in private, for its cooperation with the controversial "Labour IN" group, chaired by the Shadow Chancellor James Zaher. This group made the case for a Remain vote to Labour voters mainly focusing in the north and in Scotland but was often all to happy to attack the Conservative Party leading to some declaring it as a front for the Labour Party to attack the Government rather than to campaign for a Remain vote in and of itself. In the end however it was not the north that let the Remain Campaign down but the south with poor remain turnouts in the South East and the South West and with some high-profile shocks including Leave getting as much as 8% of the Gibraltar vote when it was predicted to get less than half of that. The Remain campaign was slightly fragmented, outmanoeuvred to a degree by the Leave Campaign, and official receipts show it was outspent by them as well suggesting that this was the trifecta of circumstances that resulted in their narrow defeat last night.

The Results

As previously mentioned the Gibraltar result was a good result for the Leave Campaign but early in the night we saw precious little for them to celebrate with a lot of results in the north failing to materialise or produce any degree of reassurance. Every voting return in Scotland saw a Remain vote off the back of very little Leave campaigning at all and the Remain vote was galvanised and united in the north leading to a rumour that the SNP Westminster Leader had made the Paddy Ashdown promise in private at SNP HQ, like Paddy she would soon be wishing she'd just kept quiet. The results gradually began to turn with the Leave rally beginning in the Midlands and in Wales before spreading south to areas like Cornwall and Kent. Result after result showed that this was going to be close and all eyes turned to the north to see if Remain could salvage victory and weather the storm of the South East. In the end better than expected performances in Northern Ireland and Wales, mixed with strong showings across the whole of the south of England, were enough to see the final vote come in at around 5am with 17mn voting for Leave and 16.5mn voting for Remain, a vote share of 50.7% to 49.3% and a margin of victory of between four and five hundred thousand votes. In the end every region apart from Scotland, Northern Ireland, and London voted to Leave leading to suggestions that this is a Brexit of the English countryside and the Welsh valleys.


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The Fallout

The fallout from the campaign has been swift and fractious, in the Labour Party there were briefings back and forth about whips applying undue pressure on Leave backbenchers which culminated in the three month suspension, and then quitting, of the MP for Bristol West Bjorn Amundsen. But it was in the Conservative Party that the greatest divisions have, predictably, been found. Since the referendum result there has been consistent rumours of a leadership challenge emerging with the Home Secretary Christopher Baxter being seen by many as a potential lightning rod. He infamously did not sign a letter sent to the BBC at around 11pm on results night urging the Prime Minister to stay on in the event of a vote to leave and is rumoured to be unhappy by potential attempts to water down Brexit. The Prime Minister publicly stated that she wants to maintain access to the Single Market directly contradicting a lot of Leave's message and leading many to wonder about the future of the Foreign Secretary, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and indeed the aforementioned Home Secretary. In public backbenchers have clashed with Cabinet Ministers with the Secretary of State for Public Services publicly questioning the Brexit mandate on the ground that the margin of victory was smaller than the number of people who have died this year. The Referendum has done much to shake the British establishment to its core and it could do much much more, the country has already accepted one change of Prime Minister this year but who knows if they would accept another without a General Election?
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