Posts Tagged ‘election’

Kenya’s Odinga urges strike, refuses to accept election defeat

August 13, 2017


© TONY KARUMBA / AFP | Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga (R) waves from his vehicle to cheering supporters as he leaves the Kibera slum where he addressed the crowd in Nairobi on August 13, 2017.


Latest update : 2017-08-13

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga on Sunday called for a strike to support his claim to the presidency and accused the ruling party of “spilling the blood of innocent people”, despite growing pressure on him to concede election defeat.

The election commission on Friday declared incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta winner of the presidential poll by 1.4 million votes. International observers said Tuesday’s election was largely fair but Odinga disputes the results, saying it was rigged. He has not provided documentary evidence.

“Jubilee have spilt the blood of innocent people. Tomorrow there is no work,” Odinga told a crowd of around 4,000 cheering supporters, referring to the ruling party. He promised to announce a new strategy on Tuesday.

Senator James Orengo, one of Odinga’s chief supporters, said the opposition would call for demonstrations.

“When we people call you to action, peaceful action, don’t stay behind,” Orengo told the crowd in Kibera, Nairobi‘s largest slum. He also called for a boycott of Nation television and newspapers, Kenya’s largest independent media group, over their  coverage of the disputed elections.

The rally, Odinga’s first public speech since Thursday, was a unequivocal message that he has no intention of renouncing his claim to be the winner of Tuesday’s vote despite calls from the international community for him to concede.

There have been deadly clashes between police and civilians in his stronghold areas. Presidential spokesman Manoah Esipisu blamed the bloodshed on protesters.

“The violent protests are unlawful,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

“The Police will not tolerate breaches of the peace; instead, they will protect the lives and property of Kenyans; and they will restore law and order.”

Reuters reporters have seen police repeatedly fire tear gas and bullets to disperse crowds of people in slums. Police have also detained and physically attacked journalists.

Election-related deaths

There have been at least 24 deaths in election-related unrest so far, a rights group said on Saturday, including that of a nine-year-old girl. The Kenya Red Cross said on Saturday it had treated 93 injured people.

By Sunday the violence had largely abated, to the relief of Kenyans who feared a repeat of the carnage that followed 2007’s disputed election.

Around 1,200 people were killed then and 600,000 displaced after Odinga called for political protests that sparked ethnic violence. Regional trade was paralysed and Kenya’s economy – the region’s biggest – took years to recover.

Some Odinga supporters are convinced that victory was stolen from them in the 2007 and 2013 polls, both marred by irregularities and problems. Odinga contested both, and lost, and his supporters say they will not back down this time.

“We are sick and tired of these people stealing the country from us. We need to split this country in two,” said David Orwa, 44, his words hinting at the ethnic divide that underlies Kenyan politics.

Odinga is a Luo, an ethnic group from the west that has long felt neglected by central government and excluded from power. Kenyatta is a Kikuyu, a tribe that has provided three out of Kenya’s four presidents since independence from Britain in 1963.

Diplomats and regional leaders are urging Odinga, a former political prisoner, to concede. Their united stance leaves the 72-year-old opposition leader isolated if he chooses to maintain the allegations of election fraud and proclaim himself president.

Congratulations my brother @UKenyatta for a successful election and the trust Kenyans have placed in you!

“I want to congratulate Uhuru Kenyatta,” said a Sunday statement by Federica Mogherini, foreign minister for the European Union, which did over $3 billion worth of trade with Kenya last year.

“In line with the African Union, the EU expects the opposition to respect the results and to use legal means available for appeals and complaints.”

No power-sharing deals

A Western diplomat said allies were not interested in revisiting the type of power-sharing deals that ended the post-election violence a decade ago. That avenue was “not an option”, he said.

“If you have evidence that the election was rigged, produce it … NASA has been changing its position in quite significant ways in the past week,” he said, referring to Odinga’s opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance.

“Most of the stuff they are alleging is not accurate.”

Initially, the coalition alleged the electoral server had been hacked, and produced 50 pages of computer logs that security experts said were inconclusive at best.

They later said a secret source within the electoral board had passed them the true election results. That two-page document was debunked by the election commission, who pointed out basic mathematical errors.

Later, Odinga said paper forms from each polling station scanned and uploaded to the election commission website to support its electronic tally were fake. He has not produced alternative forms.

Regional leaders have already congratulated Kenyatta, the 55-year-old son of the country’s first president, on winning a second term.

“Congratulations my brother @UKenyatta for a successful election and the trust Kenyans have placed in you!” tweeted Rwandan president Paul Kagame. Burundi, Tanzania, and Uganda have also sent congratulations.


Kenya: Deadly violence follows re-election of president

August 13, 2017

AFP and Reuters

© Carl de Souza, AFP | A man runs past a shack which was burnt to the ground by protestors in the Kibera slum in Nairobi on August 12, 2017.


Latest update : 2017-08-13

Kenyan police have killed at least 11 people in a crackdown on protests as anger at the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta erupted in the western city of Kisumu and slums surrounding the capital, officials and witnesses said on Saturday.

However, the NASA opposition coalition, led by four-time presidential hopeful Raila Odinga, put the death toll at more than 100, including 10 children, but did not provide evidence. Odinga has rejected the poll and its result as “massive” fraud.

The eruption of violence has revived memories of a decade ago, when Odinga, now 72, lost an election in controversial circumstances that sparked a wave of political and ethnic unrest in which 1,200 people were killed and 600,000 displaced.

Kofi Annan, the former U.N. head who mediated during that crisis, on Saturday issued a statement warning Kenya‘s leaders to “be careful with their rhetoric and actions in this tense atmosphere”.

Reuters was able to confirm 11 deaths, including one girl, in the space of 24 hours. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said 24 people had been shot dead by police since Tuesday, election day.

Top Odinga lieutenant Johnson Muthama said police had been packing corpses into body bags and dumping them, remarks likely to exacerbate the tensions that followed Friday night’s official announcement that Kenyatta had won, with 54.3 percent of votes.

Mwenda Njeka, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the opposition claims were “hogwash”.

Acting Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i had earlier said trouble was localised and blamed it on “criminal elements” rather than legitimate political protest. He also denied
accusations of police brutality.

“Let us be honest – there are no demonstrations happening,” he told reporters.

“Individuals or gangs that are looting shops, that want to endanger lives, that are breaking into people’s businesses – those are not demonstrators. They are criminals and we expect police to deal with criminals how criminals should be dealt

‘State terror’

However, James Orengo, another top NASA official, said the killings were part of a carefully laid plan by 55-year-old Kenyatta‘s Jubilee party and the security forces to rig the poll, crush dissent and then hide the evidence.

“This violence, this state terror is being executed following very meticulous preparation,” he said.

He and Muthama urged Odinga supporters to stay calm and out of harm’s way but, ominously, said there would be no backing down. “We will not be cowed. We will not relent,” Muthama said.

As with previous votes in 2007 and 2013, this year’s elections have exposed the underlying ethnic tensions in the nation of 45 million people, the economic engine of East Africa and the region’s main trading hub.

In particular, Odinga’s Luo tribe, who hail from the west, hoped an Odinga presidency would break the Kikuyu and Kalenjin dominance of central government since independence in 1963. Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president, is a Kikuyu.

Most of the trouble has been in the western city of Kisumu, an Odinga stronghold, and the large, ethnically mixed slums on the outskirts of Nairobi.

The bodies of nine young men shot dead in the capital’s run-down Mathare neighbourhood were brought to the city morgue, a security official said. A young girl was also killed by a stray bullet in Mathare, according to a witness.

A government official said one man had been killed in Kisumu county. A Reuters reporter in the city heard tear gas grenades and gunshots overnight and on Saturday morning.

In addition to the deaths, officials at Kisumu’s main hospital said they had treated 26 people since Friday night, including four with gunshot wounds and others who had been beaten by police.

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said it had treated 54 patients, including seven for gunshot wounds.

‘This is just a warm-up’

One man, 28-year-old Moses Oduor, was inside his home in Kisumu’s impoverished district of Obunga when police conducting house-to-house raids dragged him out of his bedroom and set about him with clubs.

“He was not out fighting them. He was rescued by my sister who lives next to him,” said his brother, Charles Ochieng. “She came outside screaming at the police, asking why they are beating people.”

In Nairobi, armed police and water cannons moved through the rubble-strewn streets of Kibera, another pro-Odinga slum.

At one point they fired volleys of tear gas and live rounds to force a convoy of pick-up trucks containing senior NASA officials to retreat, a Reuters witness said.

Fleeing Odinga loyalists vowed to vent their rage at the seat of Kenyatta’s administration in central Nairobi.

“This is just a warm-up. Tomorrow we will go to State House and they can kill us there,” shouted Felix Oduor, 18, as he ran from clouds of tear gas along Kibera’s railway line. “They can’t kill us all,” those around him shouted in response.

Annan reiterated calls for Odinga to lodge any complaint in court but the opposition has said it does not trust the system.

Even before the official result was declared, NASA had rejected the poll’s outcome, saying the election commission’s systems had been hacked, the count was irregular, and foreign observers who endorsed the poll and the count were biased.

NASA provided no evidence but singled out former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and former South African president Thabo Mbeki – who both led teams of observers – for criticism.

Kenya’s ELOG domestic observation group, which had 8,300 agents on the ground, published a parallel vote tally on Saturday that conformed with the official results.




EU Condemns ‘Excessive Use of Force’ by Venezuela Against Protests Around Sunday Vote

July 31, 2017

BRUSSELS — The European Union on Monday condemned “the excessive and disproportionate use of force by security forces” in Venezuela, where authorities said 10 people had been killed in clashes between anti-Maduro protesters and law enforcement.

A man displaying the Venezuelan flag during clashes last week between soldiers and antigovernment demonstrators. Credit Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

Sunday marked one of the deadliest days since massive protests started in early April in Venezuela, where voters broadly boycotted an election for a constitutional super-body sought by the unpopular President Nicolas Maduro.

“Venezuela has democratically elected and legitimate institutions whose role is to work together and to find a negotiated solution to the current crisis. A Constituent Assembly, elected under doubtful and often violent circumstances cannot be part of the solution,” the bloc’s foreign policy service said in a statement.

It did not mention whether the EU was considering imposing more sanctions on Venezuela, as mulled by the United States.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska)

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.”

Read the rest:


 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.”

Read the rest:

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.

line break

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)