Posts Tagged ‘election’

Marine Le Pen Wins French Parliamentary Seat, but Key Aides Miss Out

June 18, 2017

PARIS — French far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Sunday won a seat in France’s parliament, as did her partner Louis Aliot, but two of her top aides were eliminated in a night where her arch rival Emmanuel Macron’s party swept to power with a huge majority.

Florian Philippot, her righthand man in the National Front (FN), failed to win the seat he was fighting, and Gilbert Collard, another top adviser who was one of only two far-right lawmakers in the 2012-2017 parliament, lost his seat.

(Reporting by Andrew Callus; Editing by Leigh Thomas)

Trump believed to be mulling the termination of special counsel Robert Mueller

June 13, 2017
  • Trump confidante Chris Ruddy said there had been talk of firing Mueller.
  • Ruddy says he personally thinks it would be a mistake.

The man in charge of the FBI’s investigation on potential Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election may be headed for the exit door.

President Donald Trump is considering terminating special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director who was named by the Justice Department in May to lead the Russia probe, Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy told PBS NewsHour on Monday.

“I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. I think he’s weighing that option,” Ruddy told PBS NewsHour. “I think it’s pretty clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently.”

In an interview with ABC News on Sunday, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said he didn’t want to speculate on whether or not the president would fire Mueller.

Letting Mueller go would “be a very significant mistake,” Ruddy continued.

PBS anchor Judy Woodruff first tweeted the news and earlier on Monday, CNBC had spotted Ruddy, a close confidant of Trump, leaving the West Wing. Ruddy, however, did not meet with the president that evening as their meeting was postponed, NBC News reported.

Just spotted leaving the West Wing: Chris Ruddy, Newsmax CEO, close confidant of @POTUS.

Later on Monday night, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer issued a statement saying Ruddy never spoke to the president, adding that only the “president or his attorneys are authorized to comment.”

If Trump decided to act, Mueller’s termination would mark the latest in a series of tumultuous events that has shaken up American politics.

Former FBI director James Comey, who was conducting an inquiry into possible collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Moscow, said in testimony last week that the president had referred to the investigation as “a cloud” over his administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is now due to testify on the matter before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

PBS’ report sparked immediate debate on Twitter.

Should Mueller get fired, that would be a waste of time, according to Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.

If President fired Bob Mueller, Congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint Bob Mueller. Don’t waste our time.

Meanwhile, David Axelrod, director at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, warned of serious consequences.

This would ratchet up what’s already a crisis by 100X & be gut check for the many @GOP members of Congress who praised Mueller’s appt. 

Read the full story on PBS here.


By Chris Graham

Donald Trump is considering “terminating” Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible collusion between Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign team and Russia, a friend of the president has said.

The former FBI director was appointed to the role last month with a remit to look at possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and “related matters”.

“I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. I think he’s weighing that option,” Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy told “PBS NewsHour”.

The White House did not immediately respond to questions about Mr Ruddy’s claims.

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, responded angrily to the report.

“If President [Trump] fired Bob Mueller, Congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint Bob Mueller,” Mr Schiff tweeted on Monday evening. “Don’t waste our time.”

Mr Schiff told MSNBC he guessed “this is part of the effort to tear down Robert Mueller”.

“You can’t exclude the possibility [of Mueller’s dismissal], but I think it’s just a way of raising doubts about this man who’s well respected on both sides of the aisle.”

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 Friend Says Trump Is Considering Firing Mueller as Special Counsel

WASHINGTON — A longtime friend of President Trump said on Monday that Mr. Trump was considering whether to fire Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating possible ties between the president’s campaign and Russian officials.

The startling assertion comes as some of Mr. Trump’s conservative allies, who initially praised Mr. Mueller’s selection as special counsel, have begun trying to attack his credibility.

The friend, Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media, who was at the White House on Monday, said on PBS’s “NewsHour” that Mr. Trump was “considering, perhaps, terminating the special counsel.”

“I think he’s weighing that option,” Mr. Ruddy said.

His comments appeared to take the White House by surprise.

“Mr. Ruddy never spoke to the president regarding this issue,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said in a statement hours later. “With respect to this subject, only the president or his attorneys are authorized to comment.”

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UK: “Disastrous Election” Forces Prime Minister To Make Deals Fast To Keep Her Job and Number 10

June 10, 2017
Philip Hammond, Theresa May and Boris Johnson
Theresa May has already confirmed Philip Hammond (left) and Boris Johnson will keep their jobs. AFP/GETTY IMAGES

A disastrous set of election results have left Mrs May clinging onto power with the Prime Minister forced to pursue a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to stay in Downing Street.

She had been hoping to boost her mandate for Brexit negotiations but the Tories actually lost seats and fell below the 326 needed to form a majority government.

She has set out her intention to form a minority government which will be entirely reliant on the DUP’s 10 MPs to pass its legislation in parliament.

Mrs May’s decision to remain in post despite her failure to deliver the resounding Tory victory she had been aiming for has prompted widespread condemnation, with opposition leaders including Jeremy Corbyn calling on her to resign.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has been left isolated by her Cabinet with Tory big beasts like Boris Johnson and Amber Rudd conspicuous in their absence from the airwaves in the aftermath of the results.

However, the Prime Minister has moved to reappoint Mr Johnson as Foreign Secretary, Ms Rudd as Home Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon as Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond as Chancellor and David Davis as Brexit Secretary.

Speaking in Downing Street after outlining her intentions form a minority administration to the Queen at Buckingham Palace Mrs May said: “What the country needs more than ever is certainty and having secured the largest number of votes and the greatest number of seats in the General Election it is clear that only the Conservative and Unionist Party has the legitimacy and ability to provide that certainty by commanding a majority in the House of Commons.”

Mrs May said her minority administration will “guide the country through the crucial Brexit talks that begin in just 10 days” as she insisted the Tories will be able to work together with the DUP in the “interests of the whole UK” as she pledged to “get to work”.

Meanwhile, Mrs May said sorry to her colleagues who lost their jobs. 

She said in an interview on Friday afternoon: “I had wanted to achieve a larger majority but that was not the result that we secured and I am sorry for all those candidates and hard working party workers who weren’t successful but also particularly sorry for those colleagues who were MPs and ministers who had contributed so much to our country and who lost their seats and didn’t deserve to lose their seats.

“As I reflect on the results I will reflect on what we need to do in the future to take the party forward.”

Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, suggested her party’s backing for the Tories was far from a done deal as she only said she would talk to Mrs May to try and find a way forward.

She said: “The Prime Minister has spoke with me this morning and we will enter discussions with the Conservatives to explore how it may be possible to bring stability to our nation at this time of great challenge.”

If an informal deal is done, the Parliamentary arithmetic of the situation will mean Mrs May will face an almighty struggle to pursue the policies set out in the Conservative manifesto.

The Tories won 318 seats, down 12, and will have to rely on the DUP to get things done. If just a handful of Conservative MPs desert the party on key votes Mrs May’s plans would be left in tatters.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, has urged Mrs May to resign as he said she should “go and make way for a government that is truly representative of this country”.

Read it all:


From The BBC

Analysis by political correspondent Gary O’Donoghue

The clock is ticking for Theresa May. She needs to conclude a deal with the DUP in the next week or so ahead of the Queen’s Speech, which will set out the new government’s agenda.

That takes place on Monday 19 June – the same day Brexit negotiations are due to start.

The DUP and its 10 MPs are in a very strong position. It’s all their Christmases rolled into one and they will make sure they leverage as much as they can from their advantage.

Money for Northern Ireland will undoubtedly be part of their demands, and Mrs May will expect that. But trickier will be any demands they have about the implementation of Brexit in Northern Ireland – in particular the DUP’s determination to maintain a soft border with the south.

Another potential problem is the planned restart of negotiations for power-sharing in the province.

Typically the British government tries to act as an honest broker between Republicans and Unionists. But if Mrs May is doing a deal with the DUP, that could make it harder to reach an agreement with Sinn Fein.

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Mrs May’s decision to seek a deal with the DUP has prompted concerns from some Tories.

Charles Tannock, a Conservative member of the European Parliament, said the DUP was a “hardline, populist, protectionist” party and a “poor fit” as a partner for the Conservatives.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where same-sex marriage is not legal.

Ms Davidson, who is gay, plans to marry her partner in the near future and said she had been “straightforward” with Mrs May about her concerns.

Ruth Davidson
Ruth Davidson has said she will put LGBTI rights above her party. GETTY IMAGES

“I told her that there were a number of things that count to me more than the party,” she told the BBC. “One of them is country, one of the others is LGBTI rights.

“I asked for a categoric assurance that if any deal or scoping deal was done with the DUP, there would be absolutely no rescission of LGBTI rights in the rest of the UK, in Great Britain, and that we would use any influence that we had to advance LGBTI rights in Northern Ireland.”

By winning 12 additional seats in Scotland, Ruth Davidson played a significant part in helping Theresa May to stay in Downing Street, BBC Scotland editor Sarah Smith says.

Ms Davidson clearly plans to use her influence to try to affect the Brexit negotiations as well, suggesting that she believes the UK should try to remain in the EU single market, our editor adds.

Other members of the party have criticised Mrs May for staying on in Downing Street after failing to secure a majority government.

Former business minister Anna Soubry called for her to “consider her position” after a “disastrous” election campaign.

Labour has also demanded her resignation, with leader Jeremy Corbyn saying Mrs May should “make way” for a government that would be “truly representative of the people of this country”.

Jeremy Corbyn: An “incredible result” for the Labour party

The party won 262 seats in the election – up by 30 from 2015. With 40% of the vote, it also secured its biggest vote share since the 2001 election when Tony Blair won his second term as PM.

Mr Corbyn, who is expected to announce his shadow cabinet on Sunday, said his party was ready to form a minority government of its own, but stressed he would not enter into any “pacts or deals” with other parties.


Speaking on the BBC’s Question Time, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling defended the prime minister, saying she needed to stay in the role for the “foreseeable future”.

“Not only must she not resign, she has to not resign in the interest of the country because we need to move forward, we have got to go into the Brexit negotiations,” he added.

Former housing minister Gavin Barwell, who lost his seat, said the result was disappointing but Mrs May had won a higher share of the vote than her party had done in 1987 and 1992.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today she was still the “best person” to lead the country and he believed there was a “will in the Conservative Party to get behind her”.

Scottish Independence Dealt a Blow After Nationalists Suffer Losses

June 9, 2017

EDINBURGH/LONDON — Scotland’s bid for a second independence referendum was dealt a blow when Nicola Sturgeon’s nationalists lost 21 of its 56 seats to parties that want to keep the United Kingdom united.

The Scottish National Party, which nearly swept the board in Scotland two years ago, saw a resurgent Conservative Party north of the border claim scalps including former leader Alex Salmond and deputy leader Angus Robertson.

Sturgeon demanded a second independence ballot in March, arguing that the Brexit result changed the rules of the game.

The June 23 ballot on Brexit called the future of the United Kingdom into question because England and Wales voted to leave but Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay.

London Mayor Condemns ‘Deliberate and Cowardly’ Attack — Says Election Should Not Be Postponed

June 4, 2017

LONDON — Britain’s national parliamentary election on Thursday should not be postponed following an attack in London that killed six people late on Saturday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said.

Khan said Londoners would see an increased police presence in the city after the deadly incident but there was no reason to panic. He urged people to remain calm and vigilant.

Khan also said the official threat level remained at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.

“One of the things that we can do is show that we aren’t going to be cowed, is by voting on Thursday and making sure that we understand the importance of our democracy, our civil liberties and our human rights,” Khan said.

“I’m not an advocate of postponing the election. I’m a passionate believer in democracy and making sure that we vote and we recognize actually that one of the things these terrorists hate is voting, they hate democracy,” he said.

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon and William James; Editing by Mike Collett-White)


London Mayor Sadiq Khan Condemns ‘Deliberate and Cowardly’ Attack

June 3, 2017, at 8:47 p.m.

LONDON (Reuters) – London mayor Sadiq Khan said an attack in central London late on Saturday was a “deliberate and cowardly attack”, and that he would take part in a security meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May later on Sunday.

“We don’t yet know the full details, but this was a deliberate and cowardly attack on innocent Londoners and visitors,” Khan said. “I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. There is no justification whatsoever for such barbaric acts,” he added.

(Reporting by David Milliken; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

UK: No income tax rises for high earners, Conservatives now say (Saving Theresa May?)

June 3, 2017

michael fallon

Sir Michael Fallon disclosed there would be no income tax rises under the Tories CREDIT:JASON ALDEN FOR THE TELEGRAPH


High earners will not face any increase in income tax under a new Conservative government, one of Theresa May’s most senior ministers has promised.

Read the rest:


BBC News

Income tax: Conservatives have ‘no plans’ to raise tax

  • Michael Fallon

Senior Conservatives have said there are “no plans” to raise income tax if the party wins the general election, in an apparent change of policy. Reuters photo

Sir Michael Fallon said high earners had nothing to worry about, while Boris Johnson said there were “absolutely no plans to raise income tax”.

It comes after PM Theresa May scrapped a 2015 commitment not to raise VAT, National Insurance or income tax.

Labour said low earners have had “no guarantee from Theresa May” over tax.

The Conservative manifesto had committed the party to keep tax “as low as possible” but had not ruled out increases in income tax.

However, Defence Secretary Sir Michael told the Daily Telegraph that income tax “absolutely” will not rise under a new Conservative government.

“You’ve seen our record. We’re not in the business of punishing people for getting on, on the contrary we want people to keep more of their earnings,” he added.

Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson was then challenged on BBC’s Newsnight to repeat the promise.

He said: “We will bear down on taxation and we have absolutely no plans to raise income tax. Our plans are to cut taxes. Labour’s plans are to put them up.”

A Conservative Party spokesman said it was neither a pledge nor a promise

At the 2015 general election, David Cameron promised that income tax, National Insurance, and VAT – the so-called “triple lock” – would not go up under a Conservative government.

That promise lead to a U-turn earlier this year when Mrs May’s government had to ditch plans to raise National Insurance contributions for the self-employed.

The 2017 Conservative manifesto only promises not to raise VAT.

Under the plans, the Tories have pledged to increase the personal allowance to £12,500 and raise the minimum earnings for the 40p higher rate to £50,000 by 2020.

Boris Johnson
Image captionBoris Johnson said “our plans are to cut taxes. Labour’s plans are to put them up”

But Sir Michael appeared to go further in his Telegraph interview.

Asked whether high earners could confidently vote Conservative, safe in the knowledge their income tax wouldn’t go up, he told the paper “Yes”.

A Conservative spokesman said it was the party’s aim to reduce taxes across the board.

BBC political correspondent Gary O’Donoghue said Theresa May had been keen not to box herself in too much when it came to promises on taxation, but the party may now feel it has to send some signals to ensure its supporters turn out in numbers.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Sir Michael’s comments showed the Tories were the party for “the few, not the many”.

“The only guarantee the Tories are prepared to give at this election is to big business and high earners while low and middle income earners have seen no guarantee from Theresa May that their taxes won’t be raised,” he said.

What are the other parties pledging?

Labour has promised to raise the income tax rate to 45p for earnings above £80,000 and to 50p for each pound earned over £123,000.

It says it will not raise income tax for those earning less than £80,000.

It says the planned rises for higher earners will help fund billions of pounds of investment for schools and the NHS and an expansion of free childcare, in what it calls a “programme of hope”.

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats have pledged to increase income tax by a penny to help pay for the NHS, social care and mental health.

The SNP says it would support the idea of raising the top rate of income tax for those earning more than £150,000 from 45p to 50p.

It says there would be no increase in taxation on the low paid, in national insurance or in VAT.

Whereas, the Green Party wants to implement a wealth tax on the top 1% of earners and introduce a “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions.



British PM May could axe Hammond as finance minister, appoint Rudd: Telegraph

June 2, 2017


Fri Jun 2, 2017 | 5:19am EDT

British Prime Minister Theresa May could appoint interior minister Amber Rudd as finance minister, replacing Philip Hammond, if the government wins a landslide victory in next week’s election, The Telegraph reported, citing unidentified ministers.

The newspaper said on Friday that Rudd had the qualities required to run Britain’s finance ministry and senior government sources were quoted as saying they could “see it happening”. Friends of the interior minister said she would accept the job if it was offered, the Telegraph said.

Image may contain: 1 person

 Phillip Hammond. Getty images

A spokesman for May’s Conservative Party said the suggestion was “complete speculation, rather irrelevant speculation before an election.”

(Reporting by Elisabeth O’Leary; editing by Kate Holton)

UK PM May’s Lead Narrows After Manchester Attack Placing Landslide Win in Doubt

May 28, 2017

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May’s lead over the opposition Labour Party has narrowed sharply, according to opinion polls published since the Manchester attack, suggesting she might not win the landslide predicted just a month ago.

Four polls published on Saturday showed that May’s lead had contracted by a range of 2 to 6 percentage points, indicating the June 8 election could be much tighter than initially thought when she called the snap vote.

“Theresa May is certainly the overwhelming favorite to win but crucially we are in the territory now where how well she is going to win is uncertain,” John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, told Reuters.

“She is no longer guaranteed to get the landslide majority that she was originally setting out to get,” said Curtice, a leading psephologist who is president of the British Polling Council.

Image may contain: 1 person

 Theresa May’s personal approval ratings have also fallen from a significant 56-point lead over the Labour leader in April to 22 points Reuters

May called the snap election in a bid to strengthen her hand in negotiations on Britain’s exit from the European Union, to win more time to deal with the impact of the divorce and to strengthen her grip on the Conservative Party.

But if she does not handsomely beat the 12-seat majority her predecessor David Cameron won in 2015, her electoral gamble will have failed and her authority could be undermined just as she enters formal Brexit negotiations.

Sterling on Friday suffered its steepest fall since January after a YouGov opinion poll showed the lead of May’s Conservatives over Labour was down to 5 percentage points.

An ICM poll for the Sun on Sunday showed May had maintained a 14-point lead, the only poll since the Manchester attack that has shown her lead unchanged.


When May stunned politicians and financial markets on April 18 with her call for a snap election, opinion polls suggested she could emulate Margaret Thatcher’s 1983 majority of 144 seats or even threaten Tony Blair’s 1997 Labour majority of 179 seats.

But polls had shown May’s rating slipping over the past month and they fell sharply after she set out plans on May 18 to make some elderly people pay a greater share of their care costs, a proposal dubbed the “dementia tax” by opponents.

As her lead shrank, May was forced to backtrack on the policy at an appearance before the media on Monday at which she appeared flustered and irritated when taking questions from reporters.

Campaigning was suspended for several days after the Manchester attack but resumed on Friday.

Polls since the attack showed little evidence that May – who as a former interior minister oversaw the police and domestic intelligence agency – had gained support.

“The campaign has changed,” Johnny Heald, managing director of ORB International, said. “Expect to see a forensic focus on Brexit and security over the next two weeks.”


Headline national poll numbers failed to clearly predict Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the shock Brexit vote or Cameron’s 2015 election.

Pollsters have said their 2015 findings significantly overestimated support for Labour. While they have since adjusted their methodology to seek to address this, it will not be known until June 9 whether they have now gone too far the other way.

The trend of a decline in May’s lead is clear though.

Opinium said May’s lead had slipped to 10 percentage points, down from 13 points the week before and from 19 percentage points on April 19. Its online survey of 2,002 people was carried out between May 23 and 24.

ComRes said the lead of May’s Conservatives had fallen to 12 percentage points in an online poll of 2,024 carried out May 24-26, from 18 percentage points in a comparable poll on May 13.

ORB said May’s lead had halved to 6 percentage points, according to an online poll carried out May 24-25.

A YouGov survey of 2,003 people between May 25-26 showed May’s lead had narrowed to 7 percentage points from 9 a week ago.

The polls painted a complicated picture of public opinion, with voting intentions being influenced by both the deadly Manchester attack and May’s unpopular social care proposals.

Conservative election strategist, Lynton Crosby, has ordered a return to May’s main message: that only Theresa May can be trusted to negotiate Brexit, the Sunday Times reported.

The newspaper also reported that May’s team was riven by divisions with her joint chiefs of staff, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, at loggerheads over the unpopular social care pledge.

When asked about reports of splits, British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon dismissed them as “Westminster tittle-tattle.”

(Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Michael Holden and Alison Williams)


Theresa May to relaunch her election campaign after disastrous ‘dementia tax’ backlash and Manchester terror attack

May 28, 2017


Theresa May, pictured at the G7 summit on Friday, will relaunch her election campaign by insisting that only she can be trusted to get the right deal on Brexit 

Theresa May, pictured at the G7 summit on Friday, will relaunch her election campaign by insisting that only she can be trusted to get the right deal on Brexit

  • The PM will hammer the point that only she can be trusted on the crunch talks
  • Tory Party’s campaign blown off course by the social care row and terror attack 
  • Party strategist Sir Lynton Crosby keen to get the Tories back on track
  • Comes as a series of polls out today shows the Tory lead of Labour has shrunk 

Theresa May will relaunch her General Election campaign this week with a renewed focus on getting the right Brexit deal after a series of polls shows the Tory lead has been cut.

The Tory Party’s campaign was blown off course by the manifesto’s social care policy, which sparked an angry backlash among candidates and voters.

While the Manchester terror attack and the G7 summit has meant the PM has effectively not been able to hit the campaign trail for the past week.

One poll released today puts the Tories on 44 per cent – just six points ahead of Labour.

Sir Lynton Crosby, the Tory strategist, has ordered the party to return to its core message that only Mrs May can be trusted to stand up to Europe and get a good Brexit deal, according to The Sunday Times. 

The Tories suffered a massive backlash after they unveiled plans for a social care shake-up which means that more Britons have to include the value of their homes in calculating how much they will have to pay for their care.

The plans, dubbed a dementia tax, provoked days of bad headlines before Mrs May climbed down and said she would introduce a capt on how much people would have to pay for their care amid fears many would lose their homes.

The Tories are hoping to regain momentum after a string of polls showed their lead over Labour has shrunk considerably following the launch of the party manifestos.

There was good news for the Tories today as a new YouGov poll for The Sunday Times, out today, puts the Conservatives on 45 per cent, nine points ahead of Labour on 36 per cent.

This shows the Tories have stretched out their lead after a shock poll on Friday put them just five points ahead of Labour.

But it is still far lower than the 24 point lead they has when Mrs May called the snap election.

An ORB poll for the Sunday Telegraph had Tories down two points in the past week on 44 per cent, six points ahead of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour on 38 per cent.

While it puts the Lib Dems on 7 per cent  (unchanged) and Ukip on 5 per cent.

An Opinium poll for The Observer found the Tory advantage had fallen from 13 to 10 points over the past week.

Jeremy Corbyn, pictured on  a kick about with children on Hackney Marshes yesterday, has closed in on the Tories in recent weeks, according to a clutch of polls 

Jeremy Corbyn, pictured on  a kick about with children on Hackney Marshes yesterday, has closed in on the Tories in recent weeks, according to a clutch of polls

It put Mrs May’s party on 45 per cent and Labour on 35 per cent, while the Liberal Democrats were put at seven per cent ) and Ukip on five per cent.

A ComRes survey for the Sunday Mirror and Independent showed the gap between the parties narrowing from 18 to 12 points over the past fortnight.

It put the Tories on 46 per cent and Labour on 34 per cent – up four points.

The PM is expected to press the point that only she can be trusted in leading Britain in the Brexit negotiations when she is grilled by former Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman in a TV interview tomorrow night.

A senior Tory told The Sunday Times: ‘All that came before the attack is ancient history; it’s like the campaign is starting all over again.’

The shift represents a return to the party’s core message that only the PM can provide the ‘strong and stable’ leadership to take Britain through its toughest negotiations since the Second World War.

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Rouhani on Pace to Win Re-election in Iran — Influence of security hardliners in Iran’s hybrid clerical-republican system may stop his planned reforms

May 20, 2017



By Parisa Hafezi and Babak Dehghanpisheh | DUBAI/BEIRUT

President Hassan Rouhani has taken an unbeatable lead in Iran’s presidential election, an Iranian official source told Reuters on Saturday, citing an early unofficial tally, and is set to hand an emphatic defeat to his hardline rival Ebrahim Raisi.

In a briefing for reporters, interior ministry official Ali Asghar Ahmadi outlined a similar proportion of votes, which if confirmed would give the pragmatist cleric a second term in which to pursue Iran’s re-engagement with the world.

“It’s over, Rouhani is the winner,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

One Rouhani supporter warmly welcomed the news, but said she expected him to provide greater social and economic freedoms, pledges he made when first elected in a landslide in 2013 by Iranians weary of economic decline and clampdowns on dissent.

“I am very happy for Rouhani’s win. We won. We did not yield to pressure. We showed them that we still exist,” said 37-year-old Mahnaz, a reformist.

“I want Rouhani to carry out his promises.”

Rouhani won 21.6 million votes in Friday’s hard-fought contest, compared to 14 million for Raisi, with 37 million votes counted, the source said, adding about four million more votes were still to be tallied.

Ahmadi, the interior ministry official, said that with 25 million ballots certified by the authorities so far, Rouhani had won 14.619 million and Raisi gained 10.125 million.

He said 40 million votes had been cast, indicating a turnout of about 70 percent, roughly similar to the showing in 2013. Ahmadi said final results would be announced later on Saturday.

The big turnout appeared to have favored Rouhani, whose backers’ main concern had been apathy among reformist-leaning voters disappointed with the slow pace of change.

“The wide mobilization of the hardline groups and the real prospect of Raisi winning scared many people into coming out to vote,” said Nasser, a 52-year-old journalist.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani casts his ballot during the presidential election in Tehran, Iran, May 19, 2017. via REUTERS

“We had a bet among friends, and I said Raisi would win and I think that encouraged a few of my friends who might not have voted to come out and vote.”


Analysts expressed caution about how much Rouhani would be able to do to bring about broader reforms, despite his apparently decisive win, given the influence of security hardliners in Iran’s hybrid clerical-republican system.

“The last two decades of presidential elections have been short days of euphoria followed by long years of disillusionment,” said Karim Sadjadpour, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment who focuses on Iran.

“Democracy in Iran is allowed to bloom only a few days every four years, while autocracy is evergreen.”

Rouhani, 68, who took office promising to open Iran to the world and give its citizens more freedom at home, faced an unexpectedly strong challenge from Raisi, a protege of supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

The election is important “for Iran’s future role in the region and the world”, Rouhani, who struck a deal with world powers two years ago to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of most economic sanctions, said after voting.

Raisi, 56, had accused Rouhani of mismanaging the economy and has travelled to poor areas, speaking at rallies pledging more welfare benefits and jobs.

He is believed to have had the backing of the powerful Revolutionary Guards security force, as well as the tacit support of Khamenei, whose powers outrank those of the elected president but who normally steers clear of day-to-day politics.

“I respect the outcome of the vote of the people and the result will be respected by me and all the people,” Raisi said after voting, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

However, Raisi later appeared at the Ministry of Interior in Tehran on Friday and complained of a shortage of ballot sheets at many polling stations, according to Fars. More ballot sheets were subsequently sent out, the agency reported.

The Guards and other hardliners had hoped that a win for Raisi would have given them an opportunity to safeguard economic and political power they see as jeopardized by the lifting of sanctions and opening of the country to foreign investment.

During weeks of campaigning, the two main candidates exchanged accusations of corruption and brutality in unprecedentedly hostile television debates. Both deny the other’s accusations.

Rouhani had urged the Guards not to meddle in the vote, a warning that reflects the political tension. Suspicions that the Guards and a militia under their control skewed voting results in favor of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad led to eight months of nationwide protests in 2009, which were violently suppressed.


For ordinary Iranians, the election presented a stark choice between competing visions of the country.

Rouhani, known for decades as a mild-mannered establishment insider rather than a gung-ho reformer, had adopted the mantle of the reform camp in recent weeks, with fiery campaign speeches that attacked the human rights records of his opponents.

“I voted for Rouhani to prevent Raisi’s victory. I don’t want a hardliner to be my president,” said Ziba Ghomeyshi in Tehran. “I waited in the line for five hours to cast my vote.”

Many pro-reform voters are still lukewarm Rouhani supporters, disappointed with his failure to make broader changes during his first term. But they were anxious to keep out Raisi, who they see as representing the security state at its most fearsome: in the 1980s he was one of four judges who sentenced thousands of political prisoners to death.

For conservatives, the election represented a chance to restore the values of the 1979 revolution, which requires elected officials to be subordinate to the Shi’ite Muslim clergy and supreme leader.

Despite the removal of nuclear-related sanctions in 2016, lingering unilateral U.S. sanctions that target Iran’s record on human rights and terrorism have kept foreign companies wary of investing, limiting the economic benefits so far.

Raisi focused his campaign on the economy, visiting rural areas and villages and promising housing, jobs and more welfare benefits, a message which could have resonated with millions of poor voters angry at the Tehran elite.

(Additional reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, Writing by William Maclean; Editing by Samia Nakhoul)