U.K. inflation unexpectedly jumped in February, as food and energy bills continued to rise, placing further pressure on households.
The consumer price index (CPI) increased by an annual 10.4%, above the 9.9% consensus forecast among economists in a Refinitiv poll and up from 10.1% in January. On a monthly basis, CPI inflation was 1.1%, exceeding a forecast of 0.6%.
UK to Crack Down on Illegal Immigration
We need some of this in the US
“If you enter the UK illegally you should not be able to remain here,” Sunak told parliament. “Instead, you will be detained and swiftly returned either to your home country or to a safe country where your asylum claim will be considered.”
Migrants arriving on small boats has become a major political issue for the Conservative government, particularly in working-class areas in the north and central England, where migrants are blamed for making it harder to find work and stretching public services.
U.K. P.M. Calls for Harder Stance Against China
Many years ago, Americans listened to Churchill speak with a conviction and moral clarity that we failed to find in our own leaders. We may be reliving that moment.
In his first foreign policy speech on Monday since taking office, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declared that the country’s “golden era” of relations with China was over, saying it’s time for U.K.’s relations to “evolve.”
Sunak referred to the past decades of close economic ties as “naive,” calling China a “systemic challenge” to British interests.
“We recognize China poses a systemic challenge to our values and interests, a challenge that grows more acute as it moves toward even greater authoritarianism,” Sunak said at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London.
He now wants to adopt an approach of “robust pragmatism” against close competitors, strengthening ties with allies including the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Japan. With geopolitical shifts underway, Sunak said, “short-termism or wishful thinking will not suffice” against Russia and China.
Truss Resigns as PM
That’s a shame. The Tory Party is clearly no longer the party of Thatcher.
Liz Truss has dramatically resigned as prime minister after just 45 days in the job.
The PM said her successor will be elected in a Tory leadership contest, to be completed in the next week.
Tory MPs urged Ms Truss to go after her government was engulfed by political turmoil, following the ditching of most of her economic policies.
Her resignation comes after a key minister quit and Tory MPs rebelled in a chaotic parliamentary vote.
Ms Truss was elected by the Tory membership in September, but she lost authority after a series of U-turns.
Biden’s Show Up Late and Seated in Back
After arriving hand in hand, the Bidens finally sat down in their places in the abbey at 10.05am. The schedule published by Buckingham Palace suggested the 500 invited dignitaries should have been seated between 9.35am and 9.55am.
Perhaps as a consequence of opting out of the buses taking other leaders from the assembly point at Royal Hospital Chelsea, the Bidens were also given seats 14 rows back in the south transept of the abbey.
The US president took his seat behind Andrzej Duda, the president of Poland, and in front of Petr Fiala, the prime minister of the Czech Republic. Sitting to her husband’s left, Jill Biden sat next to Ignazio Cassis, the president of Switzerland.
Britain Gets a New PM
LONDON (Reuters) -Liz Truss will become Britain’s next prime minister after winning a leadership race for the governing Conservative party on Monday, vowing to press ahead with promises of tax cuts and to deal with a growing energy crisis.
After weeks of an often bad-tempered and divisive leadership contest, Truss, currently the foreign minister, defeated former finance minister Rishi Sunak in a vote of Conservative Party members, winning by 81,326 votes to 60,399.
“I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy,” Truss said after the result was announced. “I will deliver on the energy crisis, dealing with people’s energy bills, but also dealing with the long-term issues we have on energy supply.”
Boris is Out
The embattled but consequential British PM is heading out.
Boris Johnson is set to resign as Conservative leader and will step down as prime minister when a new leader is found.
He quits Downing Street after less than three years in the job, despite having won a huge majority in the 2019 general election.
Outgoing prime ministers are usually expected to stay in office until a successor is found. But how does that happen?
Once a Conservative leader has stood down, an election for a new party leader is triggered. Under the current rules, candidates need the support of eight Conservative MPs to stand.
Once all the candidates have declared – if there are more than two candidates – Tory MPs will hold a series of votes until only two remain.
- in the first round, candidates must get 5% of the votes to stay in the running (currently 18 MPs)
- in the second round, they must get 10% (currently 36 MPs)
- in the following rounds, the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated
When two MPs are left, all Conservative Party members around the country – so not just MPs – will vote for the winner.
The timescale for each contest is decided by the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, and the committee could vote to change the rules before the contest takes place.
What’s interesting is that usually they will call an election to reset the Parliament to pick a new PM. But it looks like since he is stepping down without a vote of no confidence, the Conservatives will just choose a new leader. I may be reading that wrong. I’m not an expert in Parliamentary procedure. But if that’s the case, it’s a smart move by the Conservative Party. I bet the Dems in America wish they could replace their leader without going through an election.
British Theater Chain Cancels Showings of Movie about Muhammad’s Daughter
What a shame for liberal thought.
Cineworld has cancelled all UK screenings of a film about the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, after it prompted protests outside some cinemas.
The cinema chain said it made the decision “to ensure the safety of our staff and customers”.
More than 120,000 people have signed a petition for The Lady of Heaven film to be pulled from UK cinemas.
The Bolton Council of Mosques called the film “blasphemous” and sectarian.
But House of Lords peer Baroness Claire Fox called the decision “disastrous for the arts [and] dangerous for free speech”, while Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he was “very concerned about the growing cancel culture” in the UK.
In an email to Cineworld, reported by the Bolton News, the chairman of the Bolton Council of Mosques, Asif Patel, said the film was “underpinned with a sectarian ideology” and “misrepresents orthodox historical narratives and disrespects the most esteemed individuals of Islamic history”.
Ye Olde Fighting Cocks to Close After a Millennium Due to Government COVID Policies
Sad. Note that COVID didn’t do this. The government’s policy choices did.
The Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub in St. Albans, England has been around since the year 793 A.D., according to the Guinness Book of World Records, but is finally shutting down due to hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Christo Tofalli, the operator of the pub, shared the sad news in a Facebook post on Feb. 4, saying that they have filed for bankruptcy and have struggled during the entire pandemic.
“It is with great sadness that I have to announce that today, after a sustained period of extremely challenging trading conditions, YOFC Ltd has gone into administration,” Tofalli said in the post.
“Along with my team, I have tried everything to keep the pub going. However, the past two years have been unprecedented for the hospitality industry, and have defeated all of us who have been trying our hardest to ensure this multi-award-winning pub could continue trading into the future.”
5% Inflation Expected in UK
The Bank of England’s new chief economist has warned that UK inflation is likely to hit or surpass 5% by early next year.
Huw Pill told the Financial Times that the Bank would have a “live” decision to make at its next interest rate-setting meeting on 4 November.
It follows recent comments from Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey who said it “will have to act” on inflation.
The UK interest rate has been at a historic low of 0.1% since March 2020.
Recent data showed that inflation growth slowed to 3.1% in the year to September. However, it is expected to increase because of rising energy costs, higher wages to fill record vacancy numbers and supply chain disruption.
Mr Pill, who succeeded the Bank of England’s former chief economist Andy Haldane last month, said he would “not be shocked” to see inflation reach 5% or above in the coming months.
He told the Financial Times: “That’s a very uncomfortable place for a central bank with an inflation target of 2% to be.”
UK Abandons Vaccine Passport Plans
Something like this should be unworkable in a free society. We’ll see how free Americans still are.
PLANS to introduce Covid vaccine passports have been SCRAPPED as Sajid Javid confirms people won’t need them to get into nightclubs and cinemas.
The Health Secretary revealed this morning that Covid jab passports won’t be introduced as a measure to fight the virus as we enter the winter months.
Previously, it was reported that Tory MPs were furious about the PM’s vaccine passport blueprint – with more than 50 poised to rebel against it in a Commons vote.
Steve Baker, deputy head of the Covid Research Group, said it’s “increasingly plain” the plan is about “coercing the young” into getting jabbed.
Rebel leader Mark Harper added that vaccine ID will be “pointless, damaging, and discriminatory”.
And earlier today, Mr Javid also confirmed that PRC tests for double-vaccinated Brit holidaymakers will be scrapped “as soon as possible.”
The Health Secretary revealed he’s already asked officials to get rid of travel testing rules, as they shouldn’t be in place for a second longer than “absolutely necessary.”
Johnson Opposed Lockdowns
While the British press is portraying this as a scandal, Johnson’s alleged comments make perfect sense. It is a rational approach to managing a pandemic by balancing divergent interests and consequences. I wish he had stuck to his guns.
Boris Johnson was reluctant to tighten Covid restrictions as cases rose last autumn because he thought people dying from it were “essentially all over 80”, Dominic Cummings has claimed.
He also said the prime minister had messaged him to say: “I no longer buy all this NHS overwhelmed stuff.”
Mr Johnson had wanted to let Covid “wash through the country” rather than destroy the economy, Mr Cummings said.
The claims came in an interview with BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg.
It is the first time Mr Cummings – Mr Johnson’s former chief adviser – has given a one-on-one TV interview during his career in politics.
In response, Downing Street said the prime minister had taken the “necessary action to protect lives and livelihoods, guided by the best scientific advice” throughout the pandemic.
And the government had prevented the NHS “from being overwhelmed through three national lockdowns”, a spokesperson added.
People Returning to International Travel
Travellers from England, Scotland and Wales are jetting off to some countries in what the crisis-hit tourism industry hopes is the start of a recovery.
Travellers can now visit 12 countries on the government’s green list, including Portugal and Israel, without isolating on their return.
The bosses of British Airways and Ryanair said confidence was returning.
Bookings are up from 500,000 a week in early April to 1.5 million a week now. “The rate of bookings suggests there is a huge amount of confidence,” he told BBC Breakfast. “We are very optimistic for the next couple of months.”
EU and UK Make a Deal
The EU and UK have reached a post-Brexit trade deal, ending months of disagreements over fishing rights and future business rules.
At a Downing Street press conference, Boris Johnson said: “We have taken back control of our laws and our destiny.”
The text of the agreement has yet to be released, but the PM claimed it was a “good deal for the whole of Europe”.
The UK is set to exit EU trading rules next Thursday – a year after officially leaving the 27 nation bloc.
The Dreaded Tier 4
The insane response to this virus is not limited to our nation. Britain has gone bonkers too.
The planned relaxation of Covid rules for Christmas has been scrapped for large parts of south-east England and cut to just Christmas Day for the rest of England, Scotland and Wales.
From midnight, a new tier four will be introduced in areas including London, Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire.
Those in tier four cannot mix indoors with anyone not from their household.
Elsewhere in England, Scotland and Wales, relaxed indoor mixing rules are cut from five days to Christmas Day.
The country is set to enter a six-week lockdown from 26 December.
For tier-four areas in England, a stay-at-home order has been issued, with exemptions for those who have to travel to work or for education.
Social mixing will be cut to meeting one person in an open public space.
All non-essential retail will have to close, along with hairdressers, nail bars, indoor gyms and leisure facilities.
People elsewhere will be advised not to travel into a tier-four area.
The evidence is now clear that these types of lockdowns do far more harm than good. They have a mixed result in actually stopping the spread of disease, but they have a very certain result in terms of lost wages, depleted savings, hunger, poverty, mental health issues, crime, suicides, and countless other negative results.
Biden Advocates for Open Border
(REUTERS) -U.S. President-elect Joe Biden said on Tuesday he did not want to see a guarded border between Ireland and the United Kingdom, adding that he had previously discussed the matter with the British and Irish prime ministers and other European leaders.
Biden had stressed the importance of protecting Northern Ireland’s peace deal in the Brexit process in a call with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier in the month, after Biden won the Nov. 3 U.S. election against President Donald Trump.
Johnson’s government is seeking a trade deal with the European Union but says it is willing to leave without one. That could complicate the situation at the sensitive Northern Irish border with Ireland – the UK’s only land border with the EU.
Biden told journalists in Wilmington, Delaware, that the border must be open.
“We do not want a guarded border,” he said, answering a question from a reporter on what he would say to Brexit negotiators.
I seem to remember the Left getting all in a tizzy about the Trump team talking to foreign leaders in 2016… but here we are.
Will Democrats Learn From Labour’s Loss?
But the policies of Labour in the 2019 election are very different from what they were in 2005 when Tony Blair and the so-called “modernisers” held sway. Labour last Thursday went into the election with an unashamedly socialist set of policies, promising a massive increase in government spending, and big tax increases for the well-off. Nationalisation of some industries was back on the agenda. There would be massive increase in spending for the National Health Service – and an offer of free broadband for everyone. Why no offer of free puppies for all, one wag asked derisively.
The problem is that the pragmatic, working-class people of Sedgefield – and any number of other constituencies across the industrial towns and cities of the UK – held their collective noses and said you must be joking. These are smart, savvy people. They know that you don’t get something for nothing.
Electoral districts that all my life have been Labour – Blyth Valley, Bolsover, Rother Valley, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Dudley, Grimsby – are now held by the Conservatives. It is hard to overstate just how seismic this is. And remember social class in the UK has always been a bigger determinant of how people vote than it has been in the US. Just like the whole class system, frankly. Some of these constituencies have never, ever flirted with the right.
Of course, there is a massive caveat that makes reading across from what happened in the UK to what might happen in the US precarious. Brexit, no deal, the European Union Withdrawal Agreement will not be on the ballot in the 2020 US presidential election. Brexit did play a big part in this general election – how could it not given the turmoil in Britain of these past three-and-a-half years?
But as Phil Wilson, the man who succeeded Tony Blair as the Labour MP in Sedgefield – and who lost his seat on Thursday night, pointed out, Brexit was nothing like as big an issue on the doorstep as Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’s socialist policies.
Britain Wants Brexit
The elites keep saying that the people don’t want, or should’t want, Brexit, but the people keep making their wished known at the ballot box.
Boris Johnson has said he hopes his party’s “extraordinary” election win will bring “closure” to the Brexit debate and “let the healing begin”.
Speaking in Downing Street, he said he would seek to repay the trust placed in him by Labour supporters who had voted Conservative for the first time.
He said he would not ignore those who opposed Brexit as he builds with Europe a partnership “of sovereign equals”.
The Tories have won a Commons majority of 80, the party’s largest since 1987.
It means the UK is heading out of the EU at the end of next month, the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg said, with Mr Johnson’s “thumping” majority allowing him to get the laws required through Parliament “in a matter of weeks”.
The Conservatives’ victory in the 650th and final contest of the election – the seat of St Ives, in Cornwall – took their total number of MPs up to 365. Labour finished on 203, the SNP 48, Liberal Democrats 11 and the DUP eight.
Terrorist Released Due to “Budget Cuts”
Budget cuts, eh?
Two people were killed and three were injured by Usman Khan, 28, a convicted terrorist who served half of his time.
PM Boris Johnson claimed scrapping early release would have stopped him.
But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will blame budget cuts for “missed chances to intervene” in a speech on Sunday.
As many as 70 convicted terrorists released from prison could be the focus of the government review.
Khan, 28, who was shot by police on Friday after carrying out the attack, was jailed over a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange in 2012.
He was sentenced to indeterminate detention for “public protection” with a minimum jail term of eight years.
This sentence would have allowed him to be kept in prison beyond the minimum term.
But in 2013, the Court of Appeal quashed the sentence, replacing it with a 16-year-fixed term of which Khan should serve half in prison. He was released on licence in December 2018 – subject to an “extensive list of licence conditions”, Met Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said.
Families Threaten to Import Jihadis into U.K.
If they pull it off, I would prosecute the families for abetting and importing terrorists into the country.
British families are plotting to smuggle relatives who joined Islamic State out of Syria amid a Cabinet row over the issue, intelligence sources claim.
They say there has been ‘chatter’ among those living in the UK about how they can help suspect jihadi family members get back to Britain.
Islamic State members have already been smuggled out of camps where British citizens are held, another western security source said, adding that the ‘window of time for countries to repatriate effectively is closing very quickly’.