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UK Election 2017 : May on verge to lose majority in British parliament, says Exit poll

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Theresa May

London, June 9 : UK Prime Minister Theresa May is on the verge to lose her overall majority in the ongoing British general election, according to an exit poll released as soon as voting finished Thursday night.

The poll, commissioned by Britain’s main broadcasters, showed May’s Conservatives would have 314 seats, losing 17 seats and the overall majority she had before the election. She needs to win at least 326 seats to claim an overall majority in the House of Commons, Xinhua reported.

May’s main rivals, Labour, would have 266 seats, according to the exit poll, which gave the first clue about the likely outcome of the snap general election called just a few weeks ago by May.

The minority Liberal Democrats would gain six seats to reach 14, the Scottish Nationalists will lose a third of their seats, getting 34, and the Greens would hold on to their single seat in Westminster.

It will be early hours Friday before the result is confirmed, but similar exit polls carried out at the previous two general elections in Britain came very close to predicting the results correctly.

In the 2015 general election, which came after five years of a general election between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, few polls predicted a majority win for then prime minister David Cameron.

The poll predicted not only would Cameron win, but also that his coalition partners since 2010, the Liberal Democrats would be massacred.

The 2015 exit poll predicted nine seats for the Lib Dems, and in the event they ended up with eight, losing around 50 MPs.

Counting of millions of votes started soon after ballot boxes were delivered to counting stations, with the first declarations likely before midnight.

The vast majority of results will be declared between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. local time, with May and her main rival, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, eagerly waiting to see which party, if any, crosses the 326-seat threshold. That is the number of seats needed to guarantee a majority in the 650-seat House of Commons.

Labour’s Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, said late Thursday night May should consider her position if the exit poll proves accurate.

Speaking on Sky news, Thornberry said: “I think she should go. I think we’re (Labour) on the verge of a great result.” Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell also said he thought May’s position would be untenable on the result of the exit poll.

May’s expected losses come after the 100-plus wins predicted early on in the campaign.

In the run-up to the general election May had insisted that there would be no general election until the parliamentary term ended its five-year span in 2020.

She changed her mind, saying she wanted more support in her negotiations over the terms for Britain leaving the European Union.

Brexit, though, has not dominated the election campaign which was overshadowed by Britain’s worst terrorist strike since 2005, with the detonating of a bomb by a suicide bomber at the end of a concert by singer Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena.

Then came a second attack on London Bridge by three terrorists who were shot and killed within minutes by armed police.

May’s manifesto also included controversial plans to cut heating allowances to pensioners and also reducing the guaranteed annual increase in their pensions. It also included a move that would see using the value of their homes to pay for care in their old age, dubbed by critics as the dementia tax.

The exit poll will also provide some comfort to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. At the start of the campaign a landslide of Labour losses had been predicted, weakening Corbyn’s role as leader. But in the final weeks of the campaign the gap between the two leaders narrowed. For Corbyn the gap was a bridge too far to cross, but it is likely to weaken the hand of his critics, including many of her own MPs, who have wanted him to go.

Political commentators are already saying May’s gamble in calling a snap election will turn out to be a disaster for her if the actual results reflect the exit poll.

IANS

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US shutdown over, new deadline looms

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Donald Trump

Washington, Jan 23: US President Donald Trump has signed a temporary funding bill ending a nearly three-day government shutdown, capping off deadlock and reinstating funds for a fortnight, a senior official said.

The federal government is expected to be back in business on Tuesday. Thousands of federal employees who had been placed on temporary, unpaid leave since Saturday, breathed a sigh of relief, the BBC reported.

Late on Monday, the Democratic leadership agreed to back the bill after accepting promises from Republicans for a debate later “on the future of young illegal immigrants”. This stopgap funding will expire on February 8.

The House and the Senate voted Monday to end the government shutdown, extending funding for three weeks, following a deal reached between Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The House passed the continuing resolution 266-159, with 36 more yes votes than the four-week resolution they passed last week, after the Senate earlier passed the bill by an 81-18 margin.

However, key issues remained unresolved, the CNN said.

This so-called continuing resolution keeps the government funded until the second week of February in the hope that the Congress could reach a longer-term budget agreement in the meantime.

Trump took a swipe at the Democrats as he signed the bill: “I am pleased that the Democrats in the Congress have come to their senses. We will make a long-term deal on immigration if, and only if, it is good for our country.”

McConnell said his party had “come to an arrangement” to negotiate on their calls for an immigration deal. Democrats want protections from deportation for so-called Dreamers — more than 700,000 young immigrants brought to the US as children.

But Republicans had insisted no agreement was possible while the federal government services were closed.

This was the fourth temporary measure since October 2017, because Capitol Hill cannot agree on a longer-term budget, the media said.

The Democrats would still want something tangible on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) but it was problematic because it could run into the February 8 funding deadline, Republican Senator Jeffry Lane Flake said.

Democrats voiced scepticism and some liberal groups were infuriated by the agreement to reopen the government.

Possible Democratic 2020 presidential candidates in the Senate – Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris – all voted against Monday’s bill.

On Twitter, “Democrats CAVED” was trending on Monday evening.

Schumer accused Trump of failing to help reach a deal. “The great deal-making President sat on the sidelines,” he said.

But many have expressed dissatisfaction with Schumer’s handling of the shutdown, which began on midnight on Friday.

IANS

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Modi meets CEOs at WEF, IMF reaffirms India’s growth story

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The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi with the President of the Swiss Confederation, Mr. Alain Berset, in Davos.

Davos, Jan 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday held a round table meeting with the CEOs of top global companies before his keynote address at the plenary session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) here on Tuesday morning.

India also got a thumbs up from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday, which reaffirmed that India’s economy is projected to grow by 7.4 per cent in the next fiscal year.

“Narrating India’s growth story and presenting exciting opportunities for global business in India at #Davos, PM @narendramodi hosted a roundtable meeting with CEOs of top global companies,” Ministry of External Affairs said in a tweet.

Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra, who had also participated at the meet, tweeted: “Let me add my compliments to you all. You did us proud with your world-beating organizational skills. Every global CEO was floored by the personal touches in your hospitality. I am proud to be on the board of Invest India.”

“In addition to listening to PM keynote address at the plenary session, participating and speaking in several sessions I look forward to joining the Yoga classes on the Alps early morning ! India’s soft power is on full display at World Economic Forum,” Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog tweeted.

The IMF reaffirmed that India’s economy is projected to grow by 7.4 per cent in the next fiscal year, regaining the rank of the world’s fastest-growing large economy as China slows down.

Like India’s improving economic performance, the global economy was also on the uptick, estimated to have grown by 3.7 per cent last year and forecast to grow this year and the next by 3.9 per cent, according to the Fund’s World Economic Outlook Update.

At the release of the Update in Davos, IMF head Christine Lagarde said that for the world economy, “all signs point to a further strengthening both this year and next,” but cautioned that “complacency would be a mistake.”

Earlier on Monday, Modi held a bilateral meeting with Swiss President Alain Berset who greeted the prime minister with a warm handshake in this town in the Swiss Alps before leading the Indian leader to the meeting.

“On reaching Davos, held talks with the President of the Swiss Confederation, Alain Berset. We reviewed the scope of our bilateral cooperation and discussed ways to deepen it even further,” Modi tweeted.

This is Modi’s second visit to Switzerland in nearly two years after his visit in June 2016.

Modi is the first Prime Minister from India to participate in a forum meeting in two decades after the then Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda in 1997.

He will interact with 120 members of the International Business Council, which is a part of the WEF.

Modi, in the course of his 24-hour visit to Davos, is also scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Sweden Prime Minister Stefan Lofven on Tuesday.

IANS

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S.Koreans burn Kim Jong-un’s photo over North’s participation at Olympics

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North Korea
(PC- Associated Press)

Seoul, Jan 22: Demonstrators on Monday burned a photo of the North Korean leader during a rally in Seoul against North Korea’s participation in the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang in South Korea.

The rally, at which the North Korean flag was also burned, was led by the far-right Korean Patriots Party in front of Seoul’s central train station, according to Yonhap news agency, reports Efe.

The protesters chose the train station because a North Korean delegation visiting South Korea to coordinate the North’s participation in the Games which begin on February 9 plans to arrive at the station from the eastern city of Gangneung.

Strong security measures have been put in place ahead of the group’s visit.

The activists read a statement in which they denounced that the PyeongChang Winter Olympics were turning into “Kim Jong-un’s Pyongyang Olympics” that they claim legitimise its nuclear weapons programme, before setting North’s national flag and so-called unification flag on fire.

As well as agreeing on North Korea’s participation at the PyeongChang Games, the two countries, which have been technically at war for more than 65 years, also decided to form a joint women’s ice hockey team and agreed on a joint march at the opening ceremony with the unification flag.

IANS

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