Voters are heading to the polls across the UK in the biggest test of political opinion since the general election. The bitter battle to be London mayor and the fight for control of the Scottish parliament, have attracted most attention, but 16 million people are eligible to vote in council elections across England – though turnout is expected to be low.
Jeremy Corbyn’s claim that Labour will not lose seats in Thursday’s local council elections but is instead seeking to make gains was misinterpreted, according to his official spokesman. The aide said his leader’s comment – “we are not going to lose seats, we are looking to gain seats where we can” – should not be taken as a prediction of what might happen. As the public prepares to vote in Scottish, Welsh and English local elections, the adviser said: “I’m telling you what he intended to say. He was saying we were not in the business of losing seats.”
Jeremy Corbyn has been forced to backtrack on a bold pledge that Labour will not lose seats in tomorrow’s crunch local elections. A spokesman for the Labour leader claimed Mr Corbyn had not meant to make any predictions when he told journalists yesterday: “We’re not going to lose seats.” The vow had raised eyebrows as many independent experts predict Labour could lose up to 150 local council seats across the country, based on current polls. The nature of council elections also means seats are won and lost across the board all the time due to local factions and personal loyalties.
LABOUR’S most senior regional candidates refused be seen with Jeremy Corbyn as campaigning took place for today’s key elections. It shows how much of a vote loser the leader’s own party chiefs believe he has become. One senior Labour source said Mr Corbyn’s aides had been getting “very emotional” about the snubs. The whole country goes to the polls for a raft of local and regional elections, dubbed “Super Thursday”.
The Tories have been a busted flush in Scotland for a generation, but if the polls are to be believed, they’re on course to win their best result since the creation of the Scottish Parliament. The day before polls open, Ruth Davidson is giving a speech in Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens to rally the troops. She hammers home her message: the Tories will be a strong opposition to the SNP, and won’t let them hold a second independence referendum – the politics of “division”, she says.
A BRITISH police force sparked fury tonight after telling Express.co.uk that stopping vote-rigging in the upcoming EU referendum is “not our responsibility”. Derbyshire Constabulary revealed it has not put in place any measures to prevent electoral fraud in today’s local elections or June’s Brexit vote despite the city of Derby being placed on a watch list. Amazingly top brass admitted they “haven’t highlighted the area as being at risk of fraud” even though it has been named in an Electoral Commission report into widespread vote-rigging.
A secret German defence white paper calling for the acceleration of the formation of a joint European Union Army has been leaked, revealing German ambitions to side-line NATO by creating a pan-EU force. The paper had seen its release date pushed back until after the British referendum on EU membership, apparently over fears that it would play into the hands of those advocating a Leave vote. But a copy has been handed to the Financial Times, revealing the scale of Germany’s ambition for a pan-EU Army – led by Germany.
Thousands of ‘asylum seekers’ are leaving Denmark and Sweden and returning home, as they tire of waiting for applications to be processed or realise they have little chance of being granted welfare or the right to work. In Denmark, 279 migrants have withdrawn their applications since the beginning of the year. In Sweden, more Iraqis have cancelled their applications so far this year – 1,366 – that those who have registered – 1,243.
EUROPEAN UNION bosses today said they were near allowing Turkey’s 79million population to be handed visa-free travel across the Continent. The controversial proposal will see Turks granted visa-free access to the bloc’s borderless ‘Schengen Area’ by the end of June this year. Of the EU’s 28 member states only Britain, Ireland and Cyprus will continue to enforce visa requirements under the deal.
Gruelling negotiations between Greece and its creditors last year pushed its economy and financial system into meltdown. Two national votes and a finance minister later, an agreement was finally reached and the country started passing reforms and getting some much-needed bailout cash. It was all going fairly smoothly. So far Greece has received €21.4bn (£17bn) from the original €86bn bailout deal, €5.4bn of which has been used to shore up the country’s struggling banking system. For each slice of cash, Greece must pass reforms through its parliament to satisfy its creditors — the European Commission, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.
David Cameron buckled under pressure yesterday and opened the door to migrant children from refugee camps in Europe. The prime minister had fiercely opposed a move that he feared would encourage more migrants to make the dangerous journey from camps around Syria. However, under growing pressure in the Commons, he climbed down. Another vote on the issue had been due on Monday, which he was expected to lose.
News of the Government’s momentous and laudable change of heart on child migrants might have been a cause for celebration among charities and campaigners yesterday. Out amid the lawlessness and squalor in the sand dunes east of Calais, however, word has yet to trickle through. And even if it had, it wasn’t going to make a blind bit of difference to the nocturnal routine of Zyrat Ahmadzai. Last night, as he has done most nights for the past eight months, he was preparing to head off in search of a truck in which to smuggle himself to Britain.
David Cameron says the UK will take in more unaccompanied Syrian refugee children from Europe, although it has not committed to a specific figure. Ministers will talk to councils before deciding how many can be resettled. The UK currently takes children from refugee camps in Syria and its neighbours but there has been pressure to take some who are already in the EU. Labour said the announcement, made at Prime Minister’s Questions, did not go far enough and more action was needed.
GPs are treating thousands of dementia patients in care homes like second-class citizens, a damning report warns today. Some are refusing to visit vulnerable patients unless they are paid up to £36,000 a year, and will only prescribe drugs over the phone. One elderly woman was made to wait in agony for 17 hours after suffering a severe allergic reaction because the GP would not see her out-of-hours.
Senior medical staff are spearheading a drive to break the deadlock between junior doctors and the Government over the medics’ long-running contract dispute. The dispute over the new contract has seen months of negotiations resulting in strike action and thousands of operations being cancelled. Medical professionals say the new contract could have a lasting and damaging effect on patient care.
More time will be given for investigations into the Conservatives 2015 election campaign spending, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced. The Electoral Commission had earlier met with prosecutors and police to ask for more time to decide whether to launch criminal investigations into Tory spending. The party faces accusations of breaking electoral spending rules by failing to record accommodation costs for bussing activists to key constituencies as part of candidates’ spending, rather than national campaign spending.
The Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war will not be published until after the EU referendum, Downing Street has confirmed. Ministers had previously said the report by Sir John Chilcot would appear in the summer, amid pressure for publication as soon as it is handed over to the government. In the firmest timetable so far, David Cameron told MPs on Wednesday that it would be “not too much longer” after the EU referendum on 23 June. That would be almost exactly seven years after the inquiry was ordered by Labour prime minister Gordon Brown in late July 2009.
The long-delayed report on the findings of the £2.2m Iraq inquiry will not now be published until after the EU referendum. The Chilcot Report on the Iraq war will be published soon after the EU referendum on 23 June, David Cameron has confirmed. He told MPs the long-awaited report would come “not too much longer” after the referendum, suggesting he already has a publication date in mind.
ISLAMIC State is now reportedly relying on a “Dad’s army” of old men after losing thousands of troops to air strikes. The terror group’s propaganda wing released pictures of its newly graduated soldiers from a training camp close to the Syrian capital of Damascus. Many of the troops are wizened old men with beards, while others look as young as 15.
Britain First, the controversial far-right political party, may be on the brink of collapse with their leader and candidate for Mayor of London, Paul Golding, currently polling one per cent of first-preference votes. Their campaign has received criticism from politicising the death of Drummer Lee Rigby to wrongly portraying BBC presenters of being Britain First supporters. This week, Britain First “invaded” a London halal slaughterhouse to protest the sale of halal meat.
Trade Union Act
THE Trade Union Act became law yesterday on what was branded a “dark day” for working people. The Bill was given royal assent after clearing its final hurdle in the Lords on Tuesday night following an eight-month battle to block it in and outside Parliament. “The Bill’s progress today is simply a dark day for workers and for those who speak up in their defence when power is misused,” said Unite general secretary Len McCluskey. But he praised the “dogged” scrutiny by MPs and Lords who helped unions to win “significant concessions” from the government on some of the worst aspects.