UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from Breakingviews:

UK’s politicians race to the bottom on policies

By Ian Campbell

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The next UK general election is in 2015, and the country’s politicians are already engaged in a classic pre-electoral sport: the race to the bottom. They are desperate for policies which please voters and the competition is fierce. Popularity is the aim, populism is the method. None of it is going to do the economy any good.

The opposition Labour party started out with a stunningly bad idea. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, proposed a twenty-month cap on volatile energy prices in a free-market economy. That is folly, as it ignores the economic reality that energy bills reflect the elevated global price of oil. It discredits Miliband and his economy guru, Ed Balls.

The coalition government didn’t take that foolish blow lying down. David Cameron, the Conservative prime minister, came back with a daft idea of his own - to bring forward the second part of the Help to Buy plan, which provides a government subsidy for buyers of existing houses. The main result will be to increase the price of already expensive housing.

from Breakingviews:

Boris Johnson intervention reduces Brexit chances

By Hugo Dixon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own

Boris Johnson's intervention in the European debate reduces the chance of a British exit from the European Union - or Brexit. The Mayor of London, a popular Conservative politician, says he will campaign to keep Britain in the EU provided it can negotiate a pared-down relationship based on the single market.

Constitution in crisis as tyrannical journalists devour cowed politicians

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A sordid tale of excess and brutality, of a world dominated by journalists with their ears to the keyhole, of tyrannical newspapers wielding remarkable power and of a political class not only cowed, but consumed, by that power.

Sound familiar? With two of Britain’s most senior policemen out of a job, the prime minister under pressure for his serenading of News Corp and one of the world’s most powerful press barons, in the form of Rupert Murdoch, summoned to testify to parliament, it would be one way of describing the current state of affairs.

What did you think of the 2011 budget?

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BRITAIN-BUDGET/George Osborne has delivered his budget speech for the 2011/12 fiscal year to parliament.

The Chancellor said corporation tax would be cut by two percentage points to 26 percent from April, rather than by just the one point originally planned. A levy on banks would be increased to help pay for it.

from Blogs Dashboard:

Claws out

Russia and Britain are rowing over how to respond to Iran's
nuclear programme, MPs are scurrying to push through legislation
for a referendum on changing the UK voting system and inflation
is twice the Bank of England's target.

But one yarn towers over them all on this miserable, wet
Tuesday.

David Cameron has got a new cat.

The Westminster bubble ran through the whole range of gags
when it was discovered that Cameron's Downing Street residence
in central London was infested with rats.

Getting women on board

The previous UK government loved reviews and inquiries – and the new one is little different. From corporate governance, to pensions, to the structure of banks, those in Westminster relish a report, preferably one packed full of important-sounding recommendations but which compel no one to do anything. That’s because, very often, the problem being tackled is not one that can be easily or neatly solved with legislation or a slap on the wrist.

The government’s review into female representation on the boards of big business is a case in point. The panel, led by former trade minister Mervyn Davies, met on Monday to discuss final recommendations for increasing the number of female board directors, with quotas mooted as one option. Its report is due out soon. But quotas are highly unlikely – for the simple reason that business does not like them.

Britons face rising price pain

Fiona Shaikh is Reuters’ Economic Correspondent, based in London. –

BRITAIN/Stubbornly high inflation has proved something of an inconvenience for the Bank of England over the last year, but the unrelenting rise in prices is turning out to be a real headache for ordinary Britons — one which is likely to get worse before it gets any better.

from Matt Falloon:

It’s snow joke

Snow or no snow, these GDP figures are a nightmare for the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government and throw up the risk of a self-fulfilling spiral of gloom.

When the shock 0.5 percent drop in economic output at the end of 2010 hits television screens on Tuesday night as families sit down to dinner, already-cautious consumers will feel more than a winter chill.

from Tales from the Trail:

Special Relationship? How quickly they forget….

So much for "Hilly-Milly".

Just last year U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gushed to Vogue magazine about  former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband,  calling the young diplomat a dashing addition to the international scene. AFGHANISTAN/

"Well, if you saw him it would be a big crush. I mean, he is so vibrant, vital, attractive, smart. He's really a good guy. And he's so young!" Clinton said in remarks that provoked a spate of joking British tabloid headlines about the new "special relationship" between the United States and Britain.

Best friends in the whole world, at least for now

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Prime Minister David Cameron has spent the last few days playing down expectations of just how special Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States is.

He was afraid of being seen, like Tony Blair, as another American “poodle”, well aware that some aspects of the alliance have not played out in Britain’s best interest and also worried that the UK has to concentrate on forming strong ties beyond the U.S. to maintain international influence.

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