Local elections

The media are full of recriminations following Thursday’s elections.  Westmonster centres on the number of spoilt ballot papers.

Large numbers of ballots were spoilt at this year’s local elections, even more striking when you consider this wasn’t a General Election year and those going to the polling stations were purely doing so for the Council elections.
Yesterday, it emerged that many had gone to scrawl pro-Brexit messages on their local election ballot papers ahead of the EU Elections in a few weeks time. The Brexit Party were not standing in the locals.
Charlotte Rose of BBC Essex revealed that 800 ballots had been spoilt in Basildon, Essex alone.

The Independent calls those who have spoilt their papers ‘disillusioned’.

Disillusioned voters have vented their anger at both the Conservatives’ and Labour’s handling of Brexit by spoiling their ballot papers in local council elections.
Voters up and down the country turned out to vote for none of the candidates on their ballot papers in a bid to send a message to the main political parties.
Many posted pictures of their papers on social media with messages demanding the government delivers the Brexit result voted for in the 2016 referendum.

The Times says the papers appeared on social media.

Some voters chose to spoil their ballot papers and boast about it on social media.
People shared images of slips with messages including “Get May out”, “Brexit betrayal” and “Traitors” written across them. One wrote: “I’d rather poo in my hands and clap than vote for this lot.”
Jordan (@Jord16_) voted in Worcester and spoilt his ballot. “The major parties have been lying for three years straight about Brexit,” he told the Press Association, saying he was a Tory member. “If there was a Brexit Party candidate I would have voted for them.”

ITV News reports on what they call a ‘bruising’ day.

The Conservatives and Labour have suffered a bruising day following the local elections as voters vented their anger at the two main parties over the continuing Brexit deadlock.
The Tories lost over 1,300 seats in what was a devastating night for Theresa May’s party, surpassing even the worst projections.
But there will be few celebrations in the Labour camp as they failed to capitalise on Tory losses, with the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Independents picking up seats in England in local elections where national politics appeared to dominate all else.

And the Mail calls it the worst performance in 25 years.

Theresa May has led the Conservative Party to a humiliating 1,300-seat loss in local elections – its worst performance in a quarter of a century – after furious voters punished her and the party for its Brexit failures at the ballot box.
The party’s drubbing meant it has surpassed its worst case predictions to put in its worst performance since John Major led it to a loss of more than 2,000 seats when faced by Tony Blair’s Labour in 1994.

Conservative Party

Recriminations begin in the Independent.

Sajid Javid warned Theresa May her “divided party” was set to hand power to Jeremy Corbyn, in outspoken criticism after the Conservatives lost a staggering 1,200 councillors.
The prime minister also faced calls for Tory MPs to move against her “immediately”, after she suffered a local election disaster beyond the party’s worst fears – blamed on her failure to deliver Brexit.
Criticism of Ms May – who faced a heckler at party conference in Wales, demanding to know ‘Why don’t you go?’ – stretched beyond Brexiteers who have long been trying to topple her.

The Times reports the party is divided.

A leading Tory leadership candidate warned last night that the party was seen as a “divided team” that “cannot unite a divided nation” after its worst local election results in a generation.
Sajid Javid, the home secretary, said that the Conservatives were no longer trusted, struggled with ethnic minorities and were seen as caring only about vested interests.

Theresa May

And much of the blame is laid at the PM’s door.  The Times says she‘ll be told to go.

Theresa May will be told by senior Tories that she must set a date for her departure next week after their party was given its worst drubbing in local elections in almost a quarter of a century.
The Conservatives lost more than 1,300 councillors, their worst performance since the low point of John Major’s government in 1995. Labour lost 82 councillors.
The results were regarded as a signal of voters’ frustration with the main parties for their paralysis over Brexit.

iNews also reports the calls for her resignation.

Theresa May faced fresh calls to resign from all levels of the Conservative Party after it suffered a rout in English local elections, losing more than 1,300 council seats and control of 40 town halls.
Its collapse in support – on a scale beyond the party’s worst fears – sets the scene for an even more disastrous showing in European Parliament contests on 23 May.
The Prime Minister’s internal opponents now look certain to mount a fresh attempt to force her out of office before the end of the month.

The Mirror reports the fresh calls.

Theresa May faced fresh calls to quit after the Tories suffered another ballot box drubbing.
The Prime Minister was heckled and urged to resign by a Conservative activist after the party lost 1334 seats and 44 councils in local elections, with all results declared .
Mrs May blamed Brexit chaos for the latest humiliation, which piled new pressure on her premiership.

And those councillors who did get elected have joined in the call for her to go, says the Guardian.

Conservative councillors have called for Theresa May to step down after the party suffered losses of more than 1,300 seats in local elections dominated by the UK’s Brexit stalemate.
After a collapse of the Tory vote across southern England, some MPs urged the party to change its rules so the prime minister can be removed from office as soon as possible.
A former councillor interrupted May as she gave a speech in Wales, saying: “Why don’t you resign? We don’t want you.”

Labour Party

Corbyn didn’t fare much better says the Mail.

Jeremy Corbyn was humiliated in Labour’s heartlands yesterday as the party lost councillors on a night it had hoped to gain hundreds.
In a disastrous set of results for an Opposition party, Labour recorded a net loss of dozens of councillors – and lost control of six councils.
The party suffered a string of stunning reverses in heartlands and Leave- voting areas such as Hartlepool and Bolsover, the local council of Left-wing firebrand Dennis Skinner.

But the Times says he has been urged not to make a deal with the government on the back of these results.

Jeremy Corbyn has been urged against using the local elections as an excuse for a Brexit deal with the government.
After the party lost dozens of seats, far short of the party’s hopes to make gains in the triple figures, the Labour leader and John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, both said that the Brexit debate needed to be settled.

A senior Tory has hit out at the Labour leader in the Express.

MICHAEL GOVE hit out at Jeremy Corbyn after the local elections this week, saying the Labour party should not betray Brexit and “dump” any mention of a second referendum.
Both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party lost precious seats at the local elections with the Tories losing more than 1,300 and Labour losing 81.
Environment Secretary Mr Gove told The Daily Telegraph that the local results, where Labour lost seats in Leave-supporting strongholds, showed the Labour leader should “dump any mention of a second referendum and help the Government get a deal”.

But Guido has no good news for the Labour leader.

There’s some more bad news for Jeremy Corbyn to digest as he chews through his porridge this morning, the British public has chosen his arch-nemesis Margaret Thatcher as the UK’s greatest Prime Minister on the 40th anniversary of her taking power.
Thatcher took 21% in the poll of post-war Prime Ministers, beating Churchill on 19% and miles ahead of the rest of the competition. There were just enough diehard Blairites left to get Tony Blair into third place with 6% of the vote. Will the ChUKas even manage to match this in the EU elections?

Lib Dems

But why did the Lib Dems do so well?  The Independent reports:

Vince Cable has hailed his Liberal Democrats as “the big winners” of the local election after the party gained hundreds of seats and control of a series of councils.
With all the results in, the Lib Dems had 1,350 councillors, a net gain of 703 on 2015 figures, and controlled 18 councils, in an election expected to be Cable’s swansong as leader. However, the gains came in the context of results that were disastrous for the party the last time the same areas were fought.

The Mirror reports the party’s claims.

The Lib Dems have hailed what they claim is their “best ever” local elections night after making huge gains across the country.
Early counting showed the anti-Brexit party up by more than 250 seats – nearly doubling its previous total – as it recovered from a crushing performance four years ago.

The Times reports that an arch-Brexiteer now has a LibDem for a councillor.

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s local councillor is now a Liberal Democrat after Sir Vince Cable’s party recorded its best ever local election results.
The council seat in Bath and North East Somerset, the leading Tory Brexiteer’s political backyard, was one of more than 650 that fell to the Lib Dems.
The pro-EU party, which supports a second referendum, picked up support in areas that voted Leave and Remain in the 2016 referendum.


The party was decimated, says the Independent.

Ukip has lost around 80 per cent of the council seats it defended on Thursday, in a local election hammering following a political lurch to the right.
Gerard Batten’s party went into Thursday’s contest with 111 councillors and ended up with just 24, as of the 4.30pm tally on results day.
The party has mostly failed to capitalise on the collapse of the Conservatives, with its former leader Nigel Farage taking the lion’s share of Brexiteer support in polls with his new Brexit Party venture.

Gavin Williamson

The sacking of the defence secretary is still reverberating round the media.  Sky News reports the PM has defended her action.

Theresa May has defended her decision to sack Gavin Williamson as defence secretary after an inquiry found “compelling evidence” that he leaked information from the National Security Council (NSC).
Details of a decision to green-light a bid by Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to help build Britain’s 5G network found their way into the media last month, and Mr Williamson was subsequently dismissed after a meeting with the prime minister.

The Times reports the decision was made two days before the sacking.

Downing Street decided that Gavin Williamson was guilty of leaking from the National Security Council 48 hours before the former defence secretary was given the choice between quitting or being sacked over the affair.
No 10 sources told The Times it became apparent on Monday that he had no future in Theresa May’s government even though interviews with Mr Williamson’s team were still being conducted on late Monday and Tuesday.
He was sacked on Wednesday at 5pm.

ITV News claims there are doubts about the man who led the inquiry.

More doubts have been raised about the impartiality of the inquiry that led to Theresa May sacking Gavin Williamson as Defence Secretary.
ITV News understands that Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, who conducted the inquiry following leaks from the National Security Council (NSC) to national media outlets, was pointing the finger at Williamson before the investigation had started.
At a meeting of NSC officials the day before the inquiry was launched, Sir Mark allegedly singled out Williamson as the source of the leak – accusations the former Defence Secretary denies.

And the Telegraph also has doubts about the Cabinet secretary.

Sir Mark Sedwill, the man behind the leak inquiry that led to Gavin Williamson’s sacking, has been accused of refusing to investigate a leak which risked putting soldiers’ lives in danger.
Allies of the former minister claimed Sir Mark had declined to intervene when a newspaper reported that the Ministry of Defence was to almost double the number of soldiers in Afghanistan.

The Mail claims Williamson has supporters.

Gavin Williamson has received the backing of more than 200 Conservative MPs since his brutal sacking by Theresa May, friends revealed last night.
Amid mounting Tory unease at Mr Williamson’s dramatic ejection from the Cabinet, allies of the former defence secretary said around two-thirds of the party had sent him supportive messages.
He is also understood to have received a consolatory call from DUP leader Arlene Foster, whose MPs prop up Mrs May’s Government.

And the Express has an interesting story about a possible law suit.

GAVIN WILLIAMSON could sue Theresa May after she sacked him over the Huawei leak.
The former Defence Secretary, 42, has hinted at defamation proceedings against the Prime Minister following claims he leaked top secret Government information to a reporter in an 11-minute phone call. Mr Williamson denies the claim. ITV political editor Robert Peston put it to Mr Williamson that he has a case for legal proceedings.
Mr Williamson said: “You are trying to tempt me.”

Customs union

The Foreign Secretary has confirmed he would not advocate a customs union, reports ITV News.

A customs union would not provide a “long-term solution” to Britain’s trade relationships after Brexit, Jeremy Hunt has said, as he suggested a breakthrough in cross-party talks could come within days.
As discussions continue between the Government and the Labour Party, the Foreign Secretary said it was still possible that the UK would not have to take part in the European elections in three weeks’ time.
He warned that the outcome would not be “pretty” for both parties if they had to participate in the polls and said the cross-party talks could yield a deal in the next week.

Euro elections

The president of the European Commission has finally recognised that the EU is in trouble, reports the Times.

The European Union has lost its “libido”, Jean-Claude Juncker has admitted before expected gains for populist and Eurosceptic parties in Europe-wide elections in three weeks.
The European Commission president compared the EU’s political malaise to the loss of desire in a marriage that has spanned more than 60 years.
“The key problem is . . . we don’t love each other. We have lost our collective libido,” Mr Juncker, 64, told Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper.

And here in the UK, the Express reports that the elections will definitely go ahead.

EUROPEAN Parliament elections are now certain to go ahead because it is too late to pass crucial Brexit laws in time to avoid the poll, it emerged last night. Theresa May has hinted a deal with Jeremy Corbyn is within reach and the next significant round of talks between the parties will be held next Tuesday.
But even if an agreement is signed off there is not enough time to push legislation through ahead of the May 23 vote.
“Realistically we are past that point,” a Whitehall source said.

Although The Brexit Party did not run in the locals, its shadow is still over politics, says the Express.

THE Brexit Party could be in for a spectacular result in the forthcoming European elections after both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party lost a huge amount of seats in the 2019 local elections.
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party could be heading for victory when the European elections take place later this month. The results from Thursday’s local elections in England were announced on Friday, and showed especially the Tories suffering a humiliating defeat. The Prime Minister’s party lost more than 1,300 councillors and 44 councils – a result experts have branded a total disaster and worse than the “worst-case scenario” for the party.


Away from front-line politics, the Times reports on the vaccination of children.

The health secretary is considering making child vaccinations compulsory and has accused anti-jab campaigners of having “blood on their hands”.
Matthew Hancock spoke after a Times investigation found that almost 40,000 British parents have joined an online group calling for children to be left unimmunised against potentially fatal diseases such as tetanus.
As vaccination rates for British children fell for a fourth year in a row, “natural immunity” groups have gained traction on social media and at school gates.


The Telegraph reports on the latest in the fight against greenhouse gas.

For years, big environmental problems were for governments and international organisations to solve. But despite all their efforts the state of the global environmental commons has worsened.
Greenhouse gas emissions are rising, scientists’ extreme weather predictions are apparently realised, city air is becoming dangerous, groundwater is getting scarce, fish stocks are declining, forests and natural habitats are being destroyed, plastic pollution is out of control, and researchers warn that an “annihilation” of wildlife has started a human-driven sixth mass extinction.

Madeleine McCann

The mystery surround the disappearance of the three-year-old in Portugal could be nearing a conclusion, reports the Telegraph.

Portuguese police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann 12-years ago, have identified a potential new suspect, it has been claimed.
According to reports in the local media, detectives from the Policia Judiciaria have been investigating a predatory paedophile, who was in the area at the time of Madeleine’s abduction.
While the name of the suspect has not been made public, reports in the Portuguese newspaper, Correio da Manhã, suggest Scotland Yard had tipped off their Portuguese colleagues about the lead.

Nuclear deterrent

It’s expensive, reports the Telegraph, far more than originally budgeted.

Britain’s nuclear deterrent is set to cost five times more than the official Ministry of Defence (MoD) estimate over the 40-year life of the programme, new figures show.
The costs for replacing Britain’s four nuclear-armed submarines could be as high as £172 billion by 2070, a new report by the campaign group Nuclear Information Service has suggested.
The study says a “perfect storm” of risks, including a lack of suitably qualified manpower, uncertain currency exchange rates post-Brexit and the rising costs of reactor cores, could make the programme more than five times the MoD estimate of £31 billion.

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