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Date for General Elections Fixed Amid Brexit Deadlock

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Brexit deadlock

The months of Brexit deadlock that have hard hit the British currency and created a political chaos throughout the country might come to an end soon. The Johnson-led government seems to have succeeded in its continued efforts of bringing general elections in the country with the date set to December 12.  

Despite succeeding in achieving a new Brexit deal during the UK-EU negotiations, the prime minister faced huge challenges as the MPs backed the new deal in the House of Commons but disagreed with the deadline date i.e. October 31.

Since, the MPs wanted more time to scrutinise the legislation, a snap election was back on the agenda. Following the Brexit deadlock, Boris Johnson strengthened his efforts in pushing for general elections. The legislation paved its way through the House of Commons with a margin of 438 votes to 20.

Though the Lords have not yet approved the bill, yet there are chances that it might become law by the end of the week. If it happens then whole of the UK would indulge in campaigning for their best possible candidates, shifting focus from Brexit to the elections.

However, only the British voters would decide the fate of Brexit deadlock, post the parliament has backed the general election move. Since, the EU’s decision to delay Brexit for three months had taken a no-deal departure off the table, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also supported the general election legislation.

Though Prime Minister Johnson is positive that the general elections amid the Brexit deadlock would give a fresh mandate to him and the public involvement in the matter through the means of elections would help to know their will, the stakes of which party would get on the better side of the voters remains oblivious.

Meanwhile, the Brexit has further been delayed to January 31.

In a similar context, Johnson even re-admitted 10 of the 21 Conservative MPs whom he threw out of the party for rebelling over Brexit, allowing them to stand as Conservative candidates.

While the Labour leader has favoured the general elections, calling it a “once-in-a-generation chance to transform our country and take on the vested interests holding people back”, many other Labour MPs have expressed their discontentment over the timing of the election. They have added that only another referendum can settle the Brexit deadlock in the country.

Tuesday’s voting stated that only 127 Labour MPs including Corbyn supported the general election legislation.

In the wake of general elections, Liberal Democratic Leader Joe Swinson, who has earlier announced her name for prime ministerial candidacy has openly criticized both Johnson and Corbyn. She added none of the two leaders is “fit to be prime minister”, considering the present political volatile times.  

Many consultants have claimed that if Labour party wins the elections under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, it might damage UK-Middle East relations and torpedo post-Brexit trade deals. This is because Corbyn is viewed “negatively” and “with suspicion” and many believe that his leadership would threaten the political, economic and security levels in the country.

As the Europe braces for the effects of Brexit, all the sides are actively preparing for the consequences of Brexit deadlock, be it longer delays and greater uncertainties. Though the country is all set for economic benefits and drawbacks of the Brexit, the European member states who have millions of workers in the UK are deemed to be the ones to be severely affected in the chaos.

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Jo Swinson Delivers Flurry of Promises in Poorly Launched Manifesto

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Jo Swinson

With General Elections less than a month away, the leader of Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, has released a flurry of promises in her election manifesto. Although the general elections have brought along a series of concerns, the election manifesto launch at the nightclub in north London seemed to mock those concerns.

Amidst nearing elections, the entire nation continues to figure out the moves that might root out the knife crime altogether, boost foreign relations post-Brexit, and enact policies so that Brexit does not negatively impact the economy, trade sector and employment sector.

In such a scenario, the promise of £50 billion as remain bonus, legalisation of cannabis for people over 18+ and creating programs to improve the condition of drug addicts and reduce prisoners, seems too good to be true.

Moreover, Jo Swinson has promised to ensure the flow of such a large amount by remaining with the European Union as it would provide a boost to the trade sector and economy of the country.

Other eye-catching points of Lib Dems’ election manifesto include increasing the number of teachers in school and their salaries, achieving 80 percent of energy through renewable sources, scrapping the UK’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent but maintaining a downgraded capability, replacing business rates in England with a Commercial Landowner Levy and constructing more homes and buildings each year.

With all these fascinating policies, it is pretty evident that Jo Swinson has completely utilised her learnings during the time she was a Business Minister in David Cameroon’s government.

Additionally, these policies portray the fact that the manifesto was introduced to lure all sections of society. However, the only limitation of these policies is the question, would remaining in the European Union provide funds for all of the above policies. And if not, what is the backup plan of the former business minister.

Aside from introducing flurry of promises, the other point that might stick out with the voters is the launch of the election manifesto. 39-year-old Jo Swinson launched the manifesto during a party at a nightclub and not during an official release with other party officials.

Additionally, calling Brexit ‘national humiliation’, which was decided democratically three years ago, might not go well with pro-Brexiteers or those seeking second referendum, and can even spark criticism from many, resulting in a further drop of support of Lib Dems in the YouGov polls.

If launching an election manifesto in a night club is set aside and the manifesto is looked upon closely, the manifesto might tip the voters in the favour of Lib Dems, possibly helping them in gaining more than 21 MPs in the House of Commons.

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Election Debate: Twitter Condemns Conservatives for Playing with Accounts

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Election Debate

The fire of criticisms ahead of the general elections is like a usual order that brings more transparency in the parties’ doings and the policies they support. Recently, Twitter issued a warning against Conservative Party that rebranded one of its Twitter accounts “factcheckUK” during an ITV general election debate poll.

The debate that took place between Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Tuesday drew huge condemnation from the users and the organisations on social media platforms.

Both the leaders clashed over which of them is best placed to safeguard the NHS if they win the general election, with the Labour leader accusing the prime minister of being ready to sell it off to US corporations.

Even though the Twitter handle was solely based for the Conservative Party press office (CCHQPress), the name and images on the page were switched to a purple background with a checkmark and name “factcheckUK”. The account was used to check facts of Corbyn’s statements during the election debate between the leaders.

As the CCHQPress account carries a blue verified badge by Twitter, it signified the fact that it was a real account. Even though the name and branding of the account was changed during the election debate, it succeeded in keeping its badge of authenticity. On retweets, the name “factcheckUK” was displayed to the users.

Most of the Twitter users called the move as misleading the citizens, while the Twitter spokesperson warned that “any further attempts to mislead people by editing verified profile information – in a manner seen during the UK Election Debate – will result in decisive corrective action”.

An independent British fact-checking charity, Full Fact, condemned the change of name and the purpose amid a pivotal election debate as inappropriate and misleading.

“Please do not mistake it for an independent fact checking service,” the charity wrote.

According to one of the Twitter policies, the social media platform is allowed to permanently suspend the accounts that pose as another person, brand, or organisation in a confusing or deceptive manner. This is called Twitter’s impersonation policy, which is enacted upon violation of its rules.

Other than FactCheck, Labour Party has joined the wave of criticism saying, “Conservatives’ laughable attempt to dupe those watching the #ITVDebate by renaming their twitter account shows you can’t trust a word they say.”

Against the criticisms, the Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly said that the Twitter account was clearly identified as conservative, and was fact-checking the claims put forward by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. “It makes it absolutely clear it’s a conservative website, absolutely clear,” he further added.

The Conservative Party has been under fire earlier also for misleading usage of social media platforms, by posting unreal data related to the opposition. In the wake of misleading contents, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in late October announced the banning of political ads on its platform.

The policy that is to come into effect on November 22 will severely affect the online campaigning of different parties and put an end to acts defaming the political party’s image before elections.

Despite the criticisms, Johnson handed 51-49 win in election debate poll, indicating the fact that he is still the favourite amongst Britons.  

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Labour’s Pledge to Eliminate Wildlife Crimes Might Turn Brexit’s Fate

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Wildlife Crimes

As the general elections are nearing, members of both Labour and Conservative Party have been in a tussle, contesting to win. In the wake of inefficient Brexit delays, it appears that the leadership evaluations will highly impact the voting behaviours of the citizens, for the leaders are the human face of election campaigns.

Despite all the challenges that the political leaders of the two major parties have been facing, Labour Party has made some big announcements to combat wildlife crimes. The decision came days after the Conservative Party announced that on winning the election they will triple the tree planting rates.

Labour Party has promised to spend £4.5m on 82 new officers, who would be responsible for tackling wildlife crimes including banning fox hunting, hare coursing, maiming and killing wild animals, if it succeeds in winning the general elections scheduled for December 12.  

As has been noted, the government has continuously failed in meeting its international obligations to protect its most important wildlife sites and vulnerable species. As a result of which, it now lags behind other EU countries on its key criteria of co-existence.

Though the government previously pledged to improve environment record, but the European report shows no progress defending designated habitats. The Tories’ latest decision to preserve nature has attracted more hostile criticisms from the opposition but no such announcement has been made in terms of protecting wildlife species.

The EU has long set rules regarding animal welfare and works with the international community to fight illegal wildlife trade. Will the UK’s exit from the EU post Brexit bring an end to such practices and lead to more wildlife crimes in the country? If the voters, consider this as a possibility then Johnson-led government’s long fight for holding general elections, which has now become a reality, would be futile.

A recent report stated that 64 percent of the species assessed in the UK were either in “bad”, “poor” or “unknown” condition, which was up from the 57 percent diagnosed in between 2007-12. As of now, only 88 police staff, including civilian managers and community support officers, are dedicated to keep an eye on wildlife crimes.

Such statistics poses a serious question on the credibility of the UK achieving a strong, independent and environmental watchdog status, without a dramatic increase in the funding of environmental monitoring and restoration before Brexit. Henceforth, Labour’s move of addressing wildlife crimes is considered to be a wise move by many analytics.

Meanwhile, the Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman said that the policy would “help protect both wild animals and property in rural communities”.

As known, increasing the number of wildlife and rural police officers across the country will help to gradually reduce wildlife crimes, promoting the UK’s promise of preserving nature and its precious species from the threat of extinction. But will the Labours succeed in winning the general elections on the disclosed motive at a time when the Conservatives have already announced their environment friendly program?  

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Did Britain Commit War Crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan under the Shadow of its Position?

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British Army

The British army that has been deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq from the past few years as part of security responsibility for millions of citizens residing in both the countries, is accused of committing war crimes, leading to death of children and civilians’ torture.

Earlier, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, British soldiers were granted the permissions to kill unarmed civilians on suspicions of being spotters. There was an increase in violence and attacks against them by local fighters and militants, who opposed the British military occupation in their country.

It is believed to have started in Amrah in South East Iraq as early as June 2004, in the middle of intense fighting between the British army and Shia militia groups. To halt the violence and war crimes committed by the troops, international military campaign was later set up in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Iraq historic allegations team (IHAT) and Operation Northmoor was set up by the British government in 2010 and 2014 respectively to keep an eye on British army’s doings in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another aim of such campaign was to reduce the terrorist threats that rose with Taliban’s growing control in Afghanistan.

At present, around 1,000 British soldiers are deployed in Afghanistan.

The IHAT inquiry firm was established after 146 Iraqi men claimed to have been tortured at the hands of the British army, while Operation Northmoor was set up post 52 alleged illegal killings in Afghanistan.

Both IHAT and Operation Northmoor were closed in 2017 by the British government after the campaigning human rights lawyer Phil Shiner was struck off on grounds of multiple professional misconduct charges, including dishonesty and lack of integrity.

Many former IHAT and Operation Northmoor investigators said Shiner’s actions were used as an excuse to close down the inquiries.

The recently leaked documents from Iraq historic allegations team (IHAT) and Operation Northmoor contained evidences of murders by a senior SAS soldier, who was referred to prosecutors for attempting to pervert the course of justice as well as year-long investigations related to deaths in custody, beatings, torture and sexual abuse of detainees by members of the Black Watch.

In context of allegations on British government’s hindering the investigations, a spokesman from Ministry of Defence said, “Allegations that the MoD interfered with investigations or prosecution decisions relating to the conduct of UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are untrue.”

“Throughout the process, the decisions of prosecutors and the investigators have been independent of the MoD and involved external oversight and legal advice.”

The MoD said cases were referred to the independent Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) as a result of investigations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Cases from Iraq were referred as a result of historic investigations. It is untrue to claim cases investigated under Operation Northmoor in Afghanistan were not acted upon. After careful investigation, overseen by a former chief constable, no Northmoor cases were referred to prosecutors,” the spokesman said.

Though the reports of British army committing crimes were dismissed by many leaders as flawed, baseless and biased, it has succeeded in spreading misinformation against the brave servicemen. While some of the citizens remained troubled with the disclosure of such a news, many found it hard to get a hang of it.

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Tories and Lib Dems Begin Tree Planting Race ahead of General Elections

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Tree Planting

Prior to the General Election 2019, the Conservative Party has announced that on winning the election they will triple tree planting rates. The Liberal Democrats responded by claiming to plant double the amount of trees planted by Tories.

The government has planned to work with devolved administrations to hike tree planting rates to 30,000 hectares every year, which means 30 million more trees. In order to increase tree planting in England, Boris Johnson has announced a £640 million Nature for Climate fund.

Taking an upper edge in the said demands, the Lib Dems have highlighted that the Tories have “woefully failed to meet their own targets for planting trees in the past year.” Moreover, the leader of the former political party, Jo Swinson, has promised to plant 60 million trees every year, labelling it as “the largest tree-planting programme in UK history.”

The Labour Party has said that its tree planting plans will be guided by science as forestry experts have announced the need for a huge programme if the UK wants to reduce its carbon emissions to effectively zero.

As per forest experts, even though the aim is tough to achieve, it’s still feasible. The success of the plan lays entirely on careful planning – “to get the right trees in the right places”. They have announced that there is dire need to properly fund the effort, meaning coordinating many different government agencies, forestry organisations and farmers.

As per an advisory group of experts in science, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), there is a need to plant 30,000 hectares of woodland annually. Till March 2019, only 15,000 hectares of land was planted.

Johnson says that there is “nothing more conservative than protecting our environment”. The new tree planting measures planned would “sit alongside our world-leading commitment” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

It is quite probable that the conservatives are looking to use the slogan – “Vote Blue, Go Green” that was adopted by David Cameron in 2010.

Countering vows made by the Conservatives, the Labour Party said that the former had failed to meet previously set tree planting targets showing that they “aren’t serious about this agenda”.

The former environment secretary Michael Gove had blamed the Common Agricultural Policy for the government not being able complete its promised targets.

Gove posited support on the decision to leave the European Union, claiming that the government is not able to deliver on the 2015 manifesto promise to plant 11 million trees by 2020.

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