EU

Despite the General Election in the offing, European leader are calling for a smooth Brexit, says the Express.

DESPERATE member states today issued an unprecedented appeal begging eurocrats and their fellow leaders not to “hijack” the Brexit talks by squabbling over petty grievances.
In an extraordinary statement three Northern European countries said they urgently needed the bloc to secure a comprehensive trade deal with Britain as soon as possible.
The worried leaders of Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands held a crisis summit in The Hague this morning where they devised a strategy to thwart any attempts to punish the UK for leaving.
All three countries are concerned that they are particularly vulnerable to the potential fallout from Brexit, given their close trading and cultural ties with Britain. 

Tax rises

Closer to home, it appears the Prime Minister could RAISE foreign aid and taxes if she is returned to Downing Street, says the Telegraph.

Foreign aid spending and taxes could increase and pensions hit if the Conservative party wins the general election, under plans announced today.
The commitments were set out in a series of public statements by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, and her Chancellor Philip Hammond on Friday and will infuriate grassroots Conservatives.
They are likely to infuriate right wing Tory MPs and ministers who want Mrs May to drop the commitment to spend a proportion of GDP on aid and cut taxes.
Mrs May committed to spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on foreign aid despite opposition from Cabinet ministers and senior Tory MPs.

The Times claims the PM will not accede to the demands of some members of her team.

Theresa May has faced down the right of her party and promised to maintain Britain’s commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of income on foreign aid.
It is the first time since becoming prime minister that she has taken on that wing, which was campaigning to abandon the commitment.
However Mrs May did not commit the Conservatives to preserving the “triple lock” guarantee after the general election, which guarantees that pensions will rise by inflation, the increase in average earnings or 2.5 per cent. The decision to drop the triple lock would open up a divide with Labour which has pledged to keep it.

The Mail quotes Chancellor Hammond.

Philip Hammond has hinted the Tories could raise taxes after the election just a month after he was forced into a humiliating U-turn over planned national insurance hikes.
The Chancellor said previous manifesto promises not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT had ‘constrained’ his ability to balance the books.
Mr Hammond’s warning will enrage right-wing Tory ministers and backbenchers, who are vehemently opposed to tax rises.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance today told MailOnline the Chancellor should be focused on cutting taxes overall instead of focusing on ‘gimmicks’ – pointing out the tax burden was already at a 30-year high.

The Express also has the story.

PHILIP Hammond appears to be gearing up to scrap previous Tory manifesto promises not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer hinted he is prepared to hike taxes and increase national insurance contributions after the General Election.
Philip Hammond said he wanted more flexibility to tackle public finances and said the 2015 pledges made by David Cameron have restricted the Government’s ability to manage the budget.
He said: “I’m a Conservative. I have no ideological desire to to raise taxes. But we need to manage the economy sensibly and sustainably. We need to get the fiscal accounts back into shape.
“It was self evidently clear that the commitments that were made in the 2015 manifesto did and do today constrain the ability to manage the economy flexibly.”

The Guardian also quotes the Chancellor.

Philip Hammond has given a strong hint that the Conservatives may ditch their pledge not to raise VAT, national insurance or income tax, saying the flagship 2015 policy had constrained his ability to manage the economy.
The chancellor, who was recently forced to drop an attempt to raise national insurance for the self-employed, suggested the tax lock had hampered the government’s drive to reduce Britain’s budget deficit.
His words suggested the manifesto would provide leeway for the Tories to raise taxes in a future parliament if they felt it necessary.
Labour seized on the chancellor’s words as a “Tory tax bombshell”. The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, responded quickly by saying that his party would maintain the triple lock on pensions.

And Sky News points out that the new election cancels any promises made during the last campaign.

The Chancellor has suggested the Conservatives may abandon a 2015 election pledge not to raise income tax, National Insurance or VAT.
Speaking at an International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington, Philip Hammond said the vows made at the time of the last General Election “constrained” the Government’s ability to manage the economy effectively and that he needed more “flexibility”.
However, Mr Hammond stressed he had “no ideological desire to raise taxes”.

The Mirror claims the tax rises will hit low-income families.

Struggling families can expect a tax bombshell should the Tories stay in power after the election.
Chancellor Philip Hammond signalled he would drop the party’s 2015 manifesto pledge not to raise VAT, income tax or national insurance contributions.
Mr Hammond said: “The commitments made in 2015 do constrain the ability of the government to manage the economy flexibly.”
His remarks come just weeks after he tried to hike NICs by £240 a year for millions of self-employed people in his first Budget as Chancellor.

Sky News reports that doubts are being cast on all Tory promises.

Theresa May has ruled out cuts to the UK foreign aid budget if she wins the election but doubts have been cast on other existing Conservative pledges.
The prime minister said the commitment to spending 0.7% of national income on aid “will remain” although it must be spent “in the most effective way”.
It follows speculation she was ready to drop it from the Tory manifesto.
But she declined to guarantee existing spending on state pensions which ensures a minimum 2.5% annual increase.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Philip Hammond has hinted that a pledge in the 2015 Conservative manifesto not to raise income tax, VAT or National Insurance before 2020 could be abandoned.

UKIP has called for a reduction in foreign aid.

“UKIP is the only party that wants to see a drastic reduction in the foreign aid budget and to see that money spent on our NHS instead.
“We want to see British taxpayers’ money spent here in our country on our own people. We are not afraid to say ‘charity begins at home'”.
UKIP Foreign Aid spokesman Cllr Lisa Duffy added, “The most secure pathway to prosperity for developing countries is via trade and not aid.
“When Britain leaves the EU we will then be able to sign trade agreements with developing nations that will open up our large consumer markets to them.
“Instead of sending so much of British tax payers money abroad Mrs May should be redirecting funds to our own vital priorities at home such as our NHS, Adult Social Care and Mental Health Services.
“UKIP would cut the Foreign Aid budget by at least £10 billion per year leaving enough to cover emergency aid, child inoculations and clean water projects.”

Labour Party

The Times claims the hard left will dominate the party after the election.

Jeremy Corbyn’s team is plotting how the hard left can maintain its grip of the Labour Party in the event of big losses on June 8.
Senior figures in the leader’s office are determined not to cede power to other wings of the party, whatever the outcome of the election.
“They are utterly determined to stop control of the party going to Tom Watson,” a source close to the leader’s office said. A second Labour source said that the determination to ensure that the left held power was driven by Karie Murphy, who is close to Len McCluksey, the Unite leader.

And the Sun claims the party can’t find enough candidates.

THE LABOUR Party are advertising for candidates to stand in the General Election on Twitter.
Jeremy Corbyn’s party have posted out a message to their 385,000 followers on the social media site, urging them to get their applications in soon.
All sitting Labour MPs who want to re-stand will be automatically re-selected – but a string have decided to stand down in the June 8 snap poll.
Former Shadow Home Secretary Alan Johnson joined Shadow Scottish Secretary Dave Anderson and former Home Secretary Andy Burnham in quitting.
Twelve in total will be standing down.
And in the latest sign that Labour aren’t quite as ready for the General Election as they claimed – the list of vacant spots in England, Scotland and Wales reaches 411.

Conservative Party

Even the Tories are shedding staff, claims the Mirror.

Theresa May was rocked by the resignation of yet another senior staffer today as her top spin doctor dramatically quit Downing Street.
Well-respected Number 10 press secretary Lizzie Louden quit the Tory Government and told pals she will “move on to other things”.
Ms Louden had previously worked on the controversial – but highly successful – Vote Leave campaign.
She was Mrs May’s most senior political spinner left in Downing Street following the sudden resignation of communications director Katie Perrior earlier this week.

And the Morning Star is also reporting the resignations.

DOWNING STREET was left in turmoil yesterday by the shock resignation of another top spin doctor.
Press secretary Lizzie Loudon became the latest high-profile staff member to quit Number 10 as Prime Minister Theresa May’s office descended into crisis.
The news of her departure followed the resignation of communications director Katie Perrior, who left hours after the general election was announced.
In a statement, Ms Loudon said: “I have taken the decision to leave government.
“It has been the most amazing and historic nine months. It was thrilling to be part of it.”

UKIP

The Guardian reports that our party might be choosy in fighting seats.

Ukip may not stand candidates in some seats currently represented by strongly pro-Brexit Conservative MPs, sources in the party have said, potentially giving Theresa May an easier task in securing a larger majority.
Conservatives named as possible beneficiaries of the strategy include the North East Somerset MP, Jacob Ress-Mogg, and Philip Davies, who represents Shipley, both of whom have strong anti-EU views.
There is also keenness among some Ukip figures for the party to stand aside in seats where a pro-leave Conservative MP is facing a close challenge from the pro-remain Liberal Democrats.
While the main beneficiaries would be Tories, it is possible that some pro-Brexit Labour MPs, for example Kate Hoey in Vauxhall, could also see no Ukip candidate stand against them.
Ukip would present such a move as a principled decision to best secure departure from the EU. However, it would also allow the cash-strapped party to focus its limited resources on specific areas. 

And our former leader thinks the polls will show the party is thriving, says Sky News.

Nigel Farage has predicted there will be a “big change” in UKIP’s opinion poll ratings as election day edges closer.
A YouGov survey published in the wake of Mrs May’s shock election call put the party on 7% – UKIP’s lowest rating with the polling agency for four years.
Mr Farage told Sky News: “I honestly think that what you’ve seen in the last week are a significant number of UKIP voters listening to Theresa May’s message that if you don’t vote for her, Mr Corbyn and Mr Farron and the SNP will reverse the Brexit process and they’ve been scared by it.
“When they realise, as these weeks develop, that actually there is going to be a Tory landslide and they can vote UKIP because they want to have a strong voice to hold the government to account, I think you’ll see a big change in the current poll ratings.”

Clean air

In other news, the Independent claims a clean air plan could be scrapped.

The Government may shelve a clean air plan which it was mandated to produce by the High Court to tackle illegal pollution levels in UK cities, due to rules which restrict the activity of the civil service during an election period.
The civil service is about to enter “purdah” – a word used to described the period between the time an election is announced and the date it is held.
In this period, government departments are subject to strict rules about policy announcements which could benefit a political party.
After a legal challenge by environmental lawyers Client Earth last year, the Government was ordered to produce a draft of a new national air quality plan by 24 April.
The judge ruled that two previous government plans were inadequate to tackle the UK’s air pollution crisis, which causes more than 40,000 premature deaths a year, and costs the UK around £27.5 billion annually, according to government estimates.

ITV News claims the report will be shelved until after the election.

The Government has said a report on air pollution may be delayed until after the general election.
Existing plans to meet EU-mandated air quality limits, which are currently being broken across various areas of the country, were ruled as insufficient by the courts.
The Government was ordered to publish updated clean air plans by April 24 as a result.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has applied to delay publication of the report until after the election in June.
A spokesman said: “We are firmly committed to improving the UK’s air quality and cutting harmful emissions.
“We are seeking an extension to comply with pre-election propriety rules.”

Nuclear disaster

The stand off between Russia and the US could result in a nuclear accident, reports the Telegraph.

Increasing global tension and the rise of cyber warfare could lead to nuclear disaster, the United Nations has warned.
comprehensive report by The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) paints a pessimistic picture of the threat the world faces.
“The lack of nuclear weapons use since Hiroshima and Nagasaki cannot on its own be interpreted as evidence that the likelihood of a detonation event is minimal,” the report warns.
“While detonations have not occurred in such circumstances, the Cold War was replete with incidences of near-misses, false alarms, and accidents in and around nuclear weapons, even when we draw only from the limited information made available by nuclear-armed States.”
The threat has been increased by the growing automation of command and control weapon systems.

The story is also in the Mail.

The risk of a nuclear war breaking out because of a ‘catastrophic error’ is at its highest ever point, the UN has warned in an ominous report.
Complex automated systems could malfunction and start a chain of events which could claim millions of lives, according to a report by the UN’s Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDR).
The document concludes: ‘Nuclear deterrence works—up until the time it will prove not to work. The risk is inherent and, when luck runs out, the results will be catastrophic.’
It warns that interconnected sensors, drones and networks mean that one error could very quickly escalate, and warns that the risk of ‘accident, misunderstanding or inadvertent escalation’ are ‘too high’.

French elections

Over the channel, France is gearing up for tomorrow’s elections, says the Telegraph.

Donald Trump has said the Paris terrorist attack would boost Marine Le Pen’s presidential chances after a last-minute poll gave her a modest increase in support.
The US president said the shooting would “probably help” Ms Le Pen in Sunday’s election, because she is “strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France.”
“Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election,” he said. 

And the Sun reports a call by Marine Le Pen.

MARINE Le Pen has called for all foreign terror suspects to be booted out of France, even if they have committed no crime.
The National Front leader added that the country was embroiled in a “ceaseless and merciless war” with the terrorists which needed “a presidency which acts and protects us”.
She claimed the outgoing Socialist government, and it’s centre-right predecessor had “done everything to ensure we lose” the fight.
Her comments came in the wake of the latest terrorist attack in the French capital which saw a policeman shot dead by an Islamic extremist.

Breitbart reports that the police are on the side of the Frenchwoman.

A newly released study shows armed French police, known as the Gendarmerie, support anti-mass migration candidate Marine Le Pen over her rivals in the French presidential race.
The report, carried out by the Ifop polling firm, shows that a majority (51 per cent) of the Gendarmerie support the Front National leader who has promised to restore order to France during her campaign. The Gendarmerie vote for Le Pen is double that of the regular French citizen, according to the most recent polling which sees Le Pen with between 21 to 23 per cent, 
L’Opinion reports.
The polling firm surveyed 588 gendarmes from 31 March to 18 April and say they tried to balance the polling to reflect many different age categories, religious beliefs, and statuses within the force as well as balancing between male and female officers.

And Westmonster claims the country is at war with Islam.

Marine Le Pen has declared that France is in a state of war with radical Islam that requires a comprehensive response.
She has called for an immediate strengthening of borders, demanding that hate preachers are expelled and 15,000 new police reinforcements put in place immediately.
Le Pen wants the military strengthened to fight the threat and 15,000 new police.
She also struck out at the foreign and public funding of mosques and wants dual nationality jihadis to have their citizenship stripped and them deported.
No wonder a majority of French police are backing her.

Asteroid impact

But maybe we don’t need to worry about the future if predictions that an asteroid will wipe out all life this year comes true, says the Star.

A team of archaeologists from the University of Edinburgh claim to have decoded an infamous “Vulture Stone” at a prehistoric temple – and their findings are TERRIFYING.
The carvings tell of a comet smashing into the planet, causing widespread devastation and changing life as it was known.
And it contains a CHILLING warning for the future of humanity, they say.
A stone circle of massive T-shaped blocks was uncovered on a remote hillside in Turkey a decade ago.
The site – called Gobekli Tepe – is thought to be one of the oldest temples in the world.
Cryptic carvings on one huge stone – including a vulture, a wolf, a scorpion and a snake – have baffled historians.
Until now.

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