BREAKING: Jo Johnson resigns and comes out in favour of 2nd Referendum.

Breaking News out of Westminster this hour is that Jo Johnson has resigned and has come out in favour of a 2nd Referendum.

Several high profile Secretary of States and Ministers have resigned from Theresa May’s government and this is just the latest embarrassment. Resignations include, Boris Johnson his brother, David Davis, Amber Rudd, Michael Fallon, Priti Patel and Damian Green.

In a statement he said the following, “On this most crucial of questions, I believe it is entirely right to go back to the people and ask them to confirm their decision to leave the EU and, if they choose to do that, to give them the final say on whether we leave with the prime minister’s deal or without it.

 

US midterms: Summary and TPN’s predictions

Polls have opened in the 2018 American midterm elections, the first nationwide electoral test of Donald Trump’s presidency.

All 435 House seats are up for grabs, as well as 35 seats in the Senate. The Democratic Party are carrying a healthy polling lead as at least 33 million people cast their votes early, either early in-person or by mail, according to information published by data company, Catalist. That’s far greater than 22 million early votes cast in the 2014 election.

Trump’s name may not be on any ballots but this election could well shape the rest of his presidency. A stalwart Republican-controlled House – won in the 2010 midterms is largely blamed for the Obama administration’s lack of progress.

Members of the House decide which bills are debated – so a Democrat-controlled chamber could substantially derail President Donald Trump’s domestic agenda, stopping anything from becoming law. The majority party also control committee appointments and have the power to issue subpoenas, and steer investigations. It is likely Democrats will launch an investigation into Trump’s tax returns, accusations of sexual assault against the president  and step up the efforts on alleged Russian collusion.

Trump’s approval rating is currently around the 40 per-cent mark. Voter’s have ranked healthcare as the issue of the election, with 30% saying it was their most important issue, ahead of economic policy, immigration and gun control.

To give you an idea of what is expected TPN’s main men give their predictions for tonight’s results. However, lets stress this is an election with very few certainties. Polling has been very wrong in the past, as Sam Glasper points out, and turnout might be a huge factor in so many races.

You can follow our Live Coverage of tonight’s results here.

The Polls

The numbers say the Democrats should take the house. Statically there is a 7 in 8 chance that the Democrats will win a majority in the lower chamber. The median result predicted by FiveThirtyEight is Democrats 233 Republicans 202.

However, the Republicans are predicted to hold the Senate, with FiveThirtyEight predicting the GOP to have 52 seats to the Democrats 48 at the end of the night. This is due to the number and locations of the seats that the Democrats are defending.

Iwan Doherty- Editor in Chief

House: Dems 233-202 GOP

The House should be a simple win for the Democratic Party and most predictions I’ve seen have it certain that they will gain seats but 23 is the magic number tonight. How large that majority is will decide how well they can hold Trump to account. It is worthwhile to remember the range of views in the Congressional Democratic Party is extremely diverse and getting a strong majority will limit the impact of Blue Dog candidates. This is especially important on issues like gun control.

The fact the Democratic Party have a 9pt lead but are only expected to have a narrow majority shows how twisted American democracy has become. Congressional districts need to be decided by independent bodies, not the state’s government.

Senate: Democrats 48-52 Republican

It’s a rough trot for the Democrats in the Senate and they need a miracle to win 51 seats. They’d need Beta O’Rourke of Texas to get them that majority. The races to look out for are Nevada, Texas, Arizona, Indiana and Montana, these are the seats the Democrats need to win a majority.

The popularity of the Democrats Blue Dog senators will see them through in the Midwest but I don’t expect a miracle in the South. This is still an optimistic prediction for the Democrats.

Predictors past performance– Iwan called the 2017 UK  General Election correctly and the House and Senate for the GOP in 2016 but couldn’t foresee Trump’s victory.

Seb Chromiak- Editor

House: Democrats 226-209 Republicans

The Democrats will take the house, their 8-9pt lead in the polls should assure this. If they don’t take the House it will be due to one reason. Gerrymandering.

Senate: Democrats 50-50 Republicans

Nevada and Texas will be the shock the Democrats need to draw level in the Senate but a loss in Arizona against a strong Republican candidate will prevent the majority they need.

Predictors past performance– Seb called the 2017 and 2015 UK General Elections but was wrong on Trump and Brexit.

Sam Glasper- Foreign Affairs Columnist

House: Democrats 227-208 Republican

The Democrats need 23 seats to gain control of the house, this will probably happen according to the pollsters however the polls are notoriously unreliable in America recently. Andrew Gillingham won his primary while in the Gravis poll, he was fourth. In the Florida Atlantic University poll, he was tied for third. In the SurveyUSA poll, he was fourth again. And on election night, he was first, winning by tens of thousands of votes.
“Republicans maintaining control of the House is well within the margin of error” the CNN forecaster Harry Enten says, with a 12.5% chance of happening, as FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver sees it. Silver’s final forecast in November 2016 gave Trump a 28.6% chance of winning.”
I expect a small win for the Democrats, there will be no blue wave.

Senate: Democrats 50-50 Republicans

If each of our state forecasts is right, however, Democrats will end up 50 seats to the Republicans 50 seats. Vice President Mike Pence would break the tie and give Republicans the barest of majorities in the Senate in this case.

Kenny Cota- TPN Writer

House: Democrat 230-205 Republican

Senate: Republican 53 – 47 Democrat

Given the Republicans have presided over a strong economy and the absence of any new disastrous foreign wars, they would have been hoping to do a lot better than they have. Even leaving aside the fact that this is merely a continuation of the growth seen under Obama, people generally vote based on how they feel their families have been doing economically.

However, they have allowed their campaign to be dictated by President Trump who in characteristic fashion decided to focus nearly all his attention on the migrant caravan which was portrayed to be the coming of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Fox News. The strategy of trying to inspire fear in all likelihood is not a particularly wise strategy when he should be trying to push back on the claims the Democrats are making about him rather than reinforcing them.

The Democrats won’t win by more purely because they have struggled to coalesce around a coherent message, as there has been a divide in the party about whether identity politics is worth another shot, and another divide about whether to argue for a Sanders style program. Nonetheless, they will be contented to gain control of one chamber and so frustrate any Republican legislative agenda and perhaps be in a position to initiate impeachment proceedings if there is legal and political support for it.

The main consequence will be that the political divide will be accentuated, as Republican candidates tend to fall more broadly into the right-wing populist model of Donald Trump as exemplified by candidates such as Ron DeSantis, and the Democrats are nominating more candidates who subscribe to Bernie’s wing of the party or are occasionally even more to the left such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Neither will become the norm in Congress but it will breed a group of individuals who could pressure party leaders in a certain direction and could run for the Presidency in 2020 on the Democratic side.

I somehow have a hunch that Beto O’Rourke will pull off a shock and defeat Ted Cruz, purely because I can’t imagine the amount of funding he received going to waste and think he’s run an incredible campaign which has led to him drawing closer and closer in the polls to within the margin of error. Either way it won’t be a stress-free night for Cruz even though it should have been in Texas. I also predict that Andrew Gillum will win the Florida governorship as the polls have been heading his way and DeSantis is held back by the credible allegations of racism.

Irish PM warns UK to “stand by its commitments over Irish Border issue”

The Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar has told the UK Government that it must avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, honouring its commitments to the Irish Peace Process.

With the UK due to leave the EU on March 29th next year, tensions have been mounting that a deal to solve the border issue will not be reached. The EU has cited the issue of Ireland as the key reason no Brexit deal has been reached, and Theresa May has vowed to find a way to stop a hard border. And Varadkar, has said that if there is an arrangement reached, it cannot feature a time limit.

The has deepened in recent weeks due to disagreements over the agreed ‘backstop’, with questions being raised over whether it should apply to the whole of the UK or just Northern Ireland, as well as fears over a proposed ‘time limit.

Any agreement that sees the reintroduction of a hard border would inevitable break the Good Friday Agreement as it would mean goods would have to be checked when they pass through the border and there is speculation of passport checks at the border. However, if there was to be a backstop applying only to Northern Ireland and not the whole of the UK, then this would create a hard border in the sea between N.I. and the U.K., as Northern Ireland would stay in the customs union (potentially for a time-limited period).

Earlier today, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, is reported to have called the Irish Taoiseach in order to “calm anger” across the sea over comments made by Brexit secretary Dominic Raab. Mr Raab is rumoured to have claimed there should be a time-limit of just three months on the Backstop agreement, which is said to have left Mr Varadkar deeply concerned and upset. Mrs May is claimed to have reassured him that her very own Brexit Secretary’s comments are not the UK’s policy, reemphasising her commitment to a full backstop that would work for the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

 

Theresa May allegedly blocked investigations into Banks’ electoral violations

After several months, stretching back to the end of the EU referendum, Arron Banks has finally been referred to the National Crime Agency, the highest enforcement agency in the United Kingdom, over doubts over where the funding for the Brexit campaign came from. His donation totalled nearly £11 Million and this latest revelation comes on top of the questions over the ‘management services’ that his company provided the official Leave campaign, which totalled nearly £12 Million.

Allegations in recent hours suggest that Theresa May, when Home Secretary blocked a request from the security services to investigate Arron Banks. This further mystifies the plot and possibly adds to the case that Theresa May’s refusal to investigate the legality of the EU referendum, is because it would further implicate her. This story breaks on the day after another damaging political event occurred in Westminster yesterday, the Prime Minister suffered another ministerial resignation and in her parting letter said ‘The Government would have blood on its hands.’

There are several accusations levelled at Mr Banks, including that the funding came from the Russian’s, to which there may be some credibility. In reference to the diamond mines that he has part ownership of in South Africa, in an interview with Channel 4 in January 2016, he claimed that they worth ‘quite a lot.’ There’s significant evidence to suggest that that claim is incorrect, again an investigation by Channel 4 revealed that most or all of the mines had been closed down and that workers had not been paid.

Court documents reveal that his former business partner has made serious allegations regarding how we was financing ‘the plug’, saying that its origins were linked to Russia and that a portion of the funding had been diverted, to the Brexit campaign.

 

Bob Posner, Electoral Commission Director of Political Finance and Regulation & Legal Counsel, said:

“We have reasonable grounds to suspect money given to Better for the Country came from impermissible sources and that Mr Banks and Ms Bilney, the responsible person for Leave.EU, knowingly concealed the true circumstances under which this money was provided. This is significant because at least £2.9m of this money was used to fund referendum spending and donations during the regulated period of the EU referendum.

“Our investigation has unveiled evidence that suggests criminal offences have been committed which fall beyond the remit of the Commission. This is why we have handed our evidence to the NCA to allow them to investigate and take any appropriate law enforcement action. This is now a criminal investigation.

“The financial transactions we have investigated include companies incorporated in Gibraltar and the Isle of Man. These jurisdictions are beyond the reach of the Electoral Commission for the purpose of obtaining information for use in criminal investigations or proceedings.”

The full press release can be found, here.

This statement further bolsters the claim that the Electoral Commission does not have the resources or legal authority to do its job properly. In an age of misinformation, increasing foreign interest in our elections, the United Kingdom needs a regulator fit for its age. The tiny amounts that campaigns and political parties continue to be fined, for breaking British law is something that needs addressing immediately. The lack of willingness from politicians to confront this topical issue is concerning for our democracy, to say the least.

It also brings into question the legality of the result to leave the European Union, if it had been the Remain camp that had broke the law and financed the campaign illegally would there have been the same muted reaction? I doubt it.

It is likely that there are more leaks to come, Arron Banks, Nigel Farage and Theresa May will all have questions to answer, the arrogance of all and their contempt for our democracy is shameful. Legislators should call their chiropractor, for it is time for them to grow a backbone.

22nd of November – Update

A couple of weeks have passed and as predicted more leaks have come to light. A Freedom of Information request by Open Democracy has been declined by the Home Office, excusing themselves from revealing such information on the following grounds.

It would impede the future formulation of government policy

According to the Daily Mail, Theresa May initially blocked the investigation on the grounds that…

“The topic was simply too explosive in the run-up to the referendum,”

As news continues to filter through of the involvement of other actors including Steve Bannon and his role in influencing the EU referendum result, be that in his quest to raise funds or influence the result through other means, they are developments that are concerning.

EU makes new proposal for bloc wide digital tax

EU finances ministers will discuss a new EU-wide digital tax, that aims to be agreed upon by the end of the year.

The EU would impose a 3% tax on turnover of digital firms like Google and Facebook who are accused of moving around their profits so they pay inadequate amounts of tax.

A third of EU states, including France, Italy and Spain, supported the new plan in a meeting on Wednesday but the smaller low tax nations, like Ireland and Luxembourg, oppose the measure on the basis it could cut their tax revenues.

All members states must back the plan for the tax to be introduced.

The larger countries are pushing for an EU wide deal as member states are beginning to announce their own digital tax policies which risks fragmenting the single market.

The UK announced its own plan for a digital service tax on Monday in the Chancellor’s budget. The UK will tax digital companies revenue’s at 2% as long as the companies are profitable and have revenue sales exceeding £500 million. This will come into force in 2 years time, therefore it remains unclear if the UK will still be in the EEA under the Brexit transition process.

However, there are concerns if the UK has the ability to enforce such a tax without leaving loopholes, something the EU is more likely to be able to achieve.

The proposed tax shows the Bloc’s willingness to tame the power of the new digital corporations but many believe more is needed to curtail the power of these media giants.

To overcome the opposition the new proposal has an expiry date.

The global debate on the overhaul of digital taxation has produced no results as competing ideologies alongside nationalist interests have meant there is very little consensus.

Labour will help pass tax breaks despite Think Tank finding they’re mostly a handout to rich

The Chancellor Philip Hammond used his budget yesterday to argue that “austerity is coming to an end”. But the Resolution Foundation cast doubt on this in their ‘Autumn Budget 2018 response‘. Their analysis showed many government departments will likely still suffer large budget cuts in the next five years.

The tax and benefit changes that have been announced since 2015 will deliver an average gain of £390 for the richest fifth of households in 2023-24, compared to an average loss of £400 for the poorest fifth. The report did, however, highlight “progress” and “a very significant easing of austerity”, however, stated this was simply down to “the major windfall the OBR provided him [Hammond] with”.

Budget 2018: Key points and snap verdict

Phillip Hammond has announced his budget and while it does not end austerity the chancellor has pledged to increase spending, however little this increase may actually be. In his opening remarks, he emphasised the need for an efficient government which keeps taxes low.

The key feature of the Chancellor’s speech is what was missing. The Chancellor did not detail where the extra money for any of his promises would come from. The Chancellor also announced he will not close the deficit by the middle of the next parliament. In the leader of the oppositions rebuttal, Jeremy Corbyn stated the government had only succeeded in moving the deficit around and that NHS trusts and local councils now bear the debt burden, alongside private citizens, as we reported last month reducing government spending is fuelling household debt.

The Chancellor has been given a £11.6bn windfall as public finances are stronger than expected and “Borrowing has come in lower than we expected.” Despite this, the Chancellor will yet again miss his targets on the deficit.

This is not enough to end austerity, but Hammond stated that it is “coming to an end” in direct contradiction to the PM’s conference address.

The IFS says the government needs £19bn to end austerity and this would be the bare minimum to keep unprotected day-to-day departmental spending constant in real terms. However, estimates from the Resolution Foundation put this at £23-£30bn depending on the definition.

Labour appealed to other parties to vote down the budget if Universal Credit wasn’t halted and Jeremy Corbyn labelled the budget a “broken promise while austerity grinds on”

The rundown of the key features of Hammond’s speech and key new policies

Fiscal Forecast

The Chancellor gave the government’s predictions on how the economy will grow and how public finances will manage.

GDP Growth

Looking ahead growth for 2019 has been downgraded 0.5% from an initial estimate of 2.1% to 1.6%, according to Jeremy Corbyn in his statement to the house, and the outlook for 2020 looks grim at best, predictions stand at 1.4%. These predictions are up when compared to the spring statement but as can be seen below are historically very low. Economic growth in the first half of this year was the slowest since 2011 and this reflects the forecasts. The IFS also pointed out wages will be no higher in 2022 than they were in 2007 describing the poor growth in living standards for working Brits as “completely unprecedented”

Deficit

The overall effect of the Budget measures is to increase the deficit by £1.1 billion this year and £10.9 billion next year, rising to £23.2 billion in 2023-24.

 

More for the NHS- including an additional £2bn for Mental Health

A major part of the budget will be to confirm there will be a £20 billion spending increase by 2023/24 for the NHS, as promised by the PM in June. While this was previously thought to rely on a so-called ‘Brexit Dividend’, meaning a Good Deal from the negotiations, Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has since claimed that there will be the funding increase “irrespective of the deal we get on Brexit”

As part of the extra funding for the Health Service, there will be a £2 billion increase in funding for Mental Health Services. With criticisms over the provisions of mental health treatment across Britain, and Mental Health units such as Cheshire East’s Millbrook Unit set to close, the government are looking to tackle what is being called an ‘epidemic’.

1 in 4 people in the UK are now reported to experience a mental health problem each year, and its believed that this could be on the rise. Included in the funding increase will be ‘specialist mental health ambulance services’, more community centres such as ‘crisis café’s’ to help those in need, and proper support in A&E departments.

However, the IPPR think-tank warned the sum was just half of what will be needed to ensure every mental health sufferer gets the care they need.

Shadow mental health minister Barbara Keeley said:

“If this announcement is simply money that’s already been promised, it will do little to relieve the severe pressures on mental health services that have built up because of this Tory Government’s relentless underfunding of the NHS. People with mental health conditions cannot afford to wait five years for meaningful action from this Government.”

Social Care will also receive a funding increase of £650 million next year. This aims to ease the national crisis surrounding the issue. Tory cuts have taken £7bn from social care so the policy is a slight walk back on cuts.

The Chancellor did not detail where this new money will come from.

Tax cuts

Personal Tax allowance will increase by £650 to £12,500 in April 2019 meaning fewer low-income earners will be paying tax. The higher rate threshold will also be increased so that some high earners will now be in the lower tax bracket. This will rise from £46,350 to £50,000 in April.

Increased Transition funding for Universal Credit

With Tensions mounting over the rollout of the government’s flagship welfare policy, it is believed that the chancellor will announce further increases in spending for the programme. With many families reportedly being left “up to £200” a month worse off, Labour have called for the policy to be stopped urging MPs to vote down the budget if it isn’t. However, with the fear of their policy being seen as a complete failure, the government are set to pump more transition money into the system.

The government will pump £1bn into Universal Credit’s transition period over 5 years and £1.7bn into payments to help solve the problems with the benefit.

Housing

The Chancellor has announced that the cap on the amount councils can borrow for house building will be scrapped tomorrow. Public Finance has claimed that a council housing boom could generate an extra £320 Billion for the economy in the next 50 years.

Labour has committed to building 100,000 council and housing association homes a year and building 1 million new homes. The government’s policy is supported by Labour but not expected to make a huge difference

House-building has fallen to its lowest level since the 1920’s, and according to Labour there are almost 200,000 fewer home-owners since the Tory government came into power and new, affordable house-building is at a 24-year low. To solve this the Chancellor will put a further £500m into the Housing Infrastructure Fund, to build 650,000 homes.

This is the first commitment by the Tories on house-building and whilst the promise is lower than Labour’s and makes no commitment on the numbers of affordable houses it remains a dramatic improvement on government housing policy.

‘No interest’ loans for families in debt

Banks and debt charities will get £2 million to help them design no-cost repayment plans for “life’s unexpected costs”.

The measure is designed to help Britain’s household debt crisis but is unlikely to make any real difference.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell added:

“This is farcical from a Government that has overseen the expansion of high-cost problem credit on an industrial scale. And whose flagship social security policy, Universal Credit, is driving low-income households into debt.”

Defence Boost

The Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged an extra £1 billion for the Ministry of Defence in order to plug capability gaps and prevent further cuts.

The Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has been campaigning for an increase in spending since taking office last year. In June 2018, it was reported that he had asked the Prime Minister Theresa May for an extra £4 billion a year.

Despite the increase, a long-term solution to the £20bn black hole has been delayed by at least 6 months until the 2019 spending review.

Today’s boost will prevent further cuts to equipment. At the Tory Party Conference last month, it was announced that the amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and Bulwark (right) would be saved from cuts. Many anticipated their saving to come at a cost: the early retirement of a few Type 23 frigates. The extra £1bn should prevent this.

UK’s Digital Service Tax

The Chancellor has announced that there will be new taxation in the form of a ‘Digital Sales Tax’ from April 2020 aimed at large Technological companies. The taxation will only apply to companies that have global revenue sales of over £500 Million and are profitable.

Digital tech giants will be taxed 2% on the money they make from UK users. The tax is estimated to raise just £400 million a year.

There are several loopholes that will likely be exploited, firstly, the tax will be introduced in two years, giving legal experts the time and opportunity to find a way out of this tax. Secondly, as it will only apply to profitable companies, large companies will likely set up a shell company in a tax haven and run all its profits through there. This policy would have been a step in the right direction, but it simply proves that the Conservative party is still on the side of big business.

Snap verdict by Iwan Doherty – Editor in Chief

The budget does not go far enough economically and is a desperate attempt to win over moderates with Labour-lite policies. More house building, raising the minimum wage and raising personal allowance are good policies but they don’t fit in with the current Tory vision and alongside drastic cuts and downgraded growth forecasts, they are unlikely to solve the numerous problems facing British society.

Budget 2018: Mental Health Crisis Funding

Philip Hammond will announce an additional £2 billion real-terms increase in funding for mental health services in England in the Budget. It is believed that this financial commitment is in line with the statement made by Theresa May at the Conservative Party Conference, in which she claimed, ‘austerity is over’.
However, this funding will be dependent upon the deal reached by the United Kingdom with the European Union. Critics have noted that the additional funding is a part of the commitment announced earlier this year, in which the government pledged to provide an additional £20 billion-a-year by 2023 for the NHS in England.
Barbara Keeley, Shadow Health Minister, offered this response to the announcement:
‘If this announcement is simply money that’s already been promised, it will do little to relieve the severe pressures on mental health services that have built up because of this Tory Government’s relentless underfunding of the NHS’.
Jeremy Corbyn, responding to the announcement on Twitter, noted:
‘We need to see real and meaningful investment today which is ringfenced, not just more hollow promises.’
It seems that the additional funding has been long overdue and many people with mental health issues cannot afford to wait any longer for the potential increase in funding.
TPN’s full round-up of the budget will come just after 3.30pm

Far right candidate Bolsonaro To Become President of Brazil

Tonight sees the second round of the 2018 Brazilian presidential election. The election has come down to two candidates, the far right Social Liberal Party candidate Jair Bolsonaro and the left-wing Workers Party candidate Fernando Haddad. With most polls closed at 5:00 pm Brazilian time, Bolsonaro is expected to win despite Haddad gaining ground in the polls in the last few weeks. In the first round, Bolsonaro won 46% of the vote whilst Haddad won 29%. What this means for the future of Brazil shall be explored as the night goes on but the likely Bolsonaro victory should worry progressive forces everywhere.

New Updates

Bolsonaro To Face Opposition, Clashes Reported

Some final thoughts as the night draws to a close. Manuela D’Ávila, Fernando Haddad’s running mate and Communist Party member has called for “resistance” on Twitter stating that “We lost, it’s only fair that we become sad and worried, with us, with ours, with Brazil. But sadness has to quickly turn into resistance,”. Clashes have been reported among rival supporters although a heavy police presence on the street will intend to avoid the scenes after the first round results. However, reports are already coming in of LGBT+ members attempting to leave the country as they fear the worst, expectantly, of the far right demagogue. Whilst Bolsonaro no doubt intends to fulfil his goals, he faces opposition from a number of left parties in Congress and a potential militant working class who will no doubt resist the regimes neo-liberal reforms as they have done in the past. While the future is in doubt, the will of the Brazilian people is not.

Bolsonaro Makes Victory Speech, Worries As Fascism Rises

Within his speech, dull and televised as is his style, Bolsonaro stated that “We cannot continue flirting with communism … We are going to change the destiny of Brazil,” and has stated during the campaign that “we will shoot” Workers Party supporters and told “leftist outlaws” to either leave the country or find themselves in jail. It is important to stress this man is not just a populist nor is he Brazil’s answer to Trump. He is the ingrained representation of fascism within the Brazilian establishment. The Human Right Watch has announced people to resist the new regime whom they call a “pro-torture, openly bigoted member of Congress”. Haddad now defeated has stated in his closing speech that “We have a huge task: in the name of democracy, to defend the thinking, the freedom of these 45 million Brazilians”. The future of the party now at the whims of a far right administration is in doubt.

22:55

Far Right Victory: How and Why?

The question on many peoples minds not familiar with Brazilian politics is just how did such a uncompromising neo-liberal, openly homophobic and military junta enthusiast win the worlds eighth largest economy of nearly 210 million people. There are multiple factors, one glaring one being the disqualification of former president Lula who has long since topped the polls despite his corruption imprisonment. Both his and former president Rousseff’s corruption charges has led many to accuse the Brazilian establishment of a soft coup backed by the United States in order to open up the economy to liberalisation. Brazil’s history of dictatorship and populism may also be a driving factor. Bolsonaro’s hardliner rhetoric on crime will likely also have won votes from many fearing Brazil’s rising crime levels. Bolsonaro’s anti-leftist rhetoric also plays on previous Brazilian political fear mongering from the past against supposed communist takeovers. Whatever the reason, Bolsonaro likely intends on fulfilling his promises whatever the cost to Brazilian society.

22:29

Bolsonaro Winner Of Deeply Divided Electorate

With more 88 percent of the vote counted Bolsonaro has 55.7 percent whilst Haddad has 44.3 percent of the vote. The divisions in Brazilian society cannot be summed up in these numbers alone though. This past week a Roger Waters concert saw fights in the crowd when he displayed an anti-fascist message on the screen. After the first round, a woman wearing an anti-Bolsonaro shirt was marked with a swastika by a knife wielding gang. More than 20 Brazilian universities were invaded by military police in the past 2 days confiscating anti-fascist banners claiming electoral propaganda. Lula the likely favourite to previously win the election for the workers party has been arrested on corruption charges. This is a deeply divided nation and what comes next is anyone’s guess but it is not likely to be pretty.

22:13

Bolsonaro To Become President of Brazil, Future of Progressive Forces in Brazil Bleak

With the full election result to be announced shortly, it is now highly likely Brazil will be governed by a man who has defended the use of the torture, admired the deeds of the Chilean mass murderer Pinochet and has described himself as “homophobic – and very proud of it”. While the future of the Brazillian left is unknown it is likely to be bleak. Bolsonaro has threatened a purge of left wing figures from society and already his supporters have murdered multiple civilian opponents.  The future is now doubtful for those on the left within Brazil.

22:03

Exit Poll: Bolsonaro Leads Brazil Election With 56% of Votes

Tonight’s exit poll has predicted a Bolsonaro victory with a majority of 56% of the vote almost mirroring the last surveys from Saturday. Bolsonaro, the extreme right candidate is on course to be Brazil’s next president

21:53

The Candidates

With exit polls expected anytime soon, a brief look at the candidates can begin. Jair Bolsonaro is one of Brazil’s most recognisable modern political figures due to his far right controversial rhetoric. A self described moralist, he promotes the liberalisation of the economy and the relaxing of gun laws across Brazil. He has positioned himself strongly as tough on crime and corruption, issues which have been at the forefront of Brazilian politics recently. His politics can be further explored in an another TPN article written here. His, opponent Fernando Haddad is the former mayor of Sao Paolo and is the replacement candidate for former president Lula Da Silva whose candidacy was barred by the Supreme Court. He is of Lebanese origin and seeks to carry on with the Workers Party’s current social-economic policies of state interventionism and the protection of minority rights. His vice presidential pick is Communist Party legislator Manuela d’Ávila.  The candidates are at opposite ends of the spectrum hence the viciousness of the campaign.

21:36 pm

The Election So Far

Today’s election, fought between far right Social Liberal Party candidate and Workers Party candidate Fernando Haddad has been a tumultuous one. The past couple of weeks has seen widespread violence committed by rival supporters with multiple instances of violent assaults even deaths. Despite this today’s election did not see some of the violence as reported before. The Organization of American States’, who are holding an electoral mission in Brazil, has stated that the voting taking place today has been in a climate of “tranquillity and normality.” Whilst Bolsonaro is expected to win today, Haddad still has a chance with polls narrowing recently. Bolsonaro’s first round win however, with 46% of the vote is likely to showcase his expected victory tonight.

First round results

PM under pressure over budget as McDonnell urges MP to vote budget down over Universal Credit

The Prime Minister will face both internal and external problems when the budget goes to the House of Commons on Monday.

The Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has urged MPs to vote down the budget if there is no commitment to pausing and fixing Universal Credit claiming “it’s that important”. In an interview, the chancellor appealed to House members across the aisle saying:

 “I am calling on other parties and members of other parties in Parliament to vote down the budget if the Chancellor refuses to halt the roll out of universal credit which is causing such hardship for millions, including many children.”

Food Bank usage in areas where Universal Credit has rolled out has increased 52%. One charity that helps the homeless spoke out against Universal credit, despite the gagging clause against this, saying that people on the benefit are desperate for help. Her charity has seen rises in suicidal citizens, self-harming citizens and women going into prostitution, so they can feed their families.

However, Tory MPs are unlikely to vote down their own budget, especially as a budget is an effective vote of no confidence. The chancellor has hinted at more money for Universal Credit but this is unlikely to solve the multiple problems.

The PM might have difficulty passing the budget if the DUP follow through on their threat to break their confidence and supply arrangement with the Tories if their redlines were breached on Brexit. Leaked plans of the PM’s new Brexit proposal sees Northern Ireland in a different VAT area to the rest of the UK and it is unclear if the DUP will accept this regulatory difference.

There is also a row in the Conservative Party on the direction of public spending. The Prime Minister pledged, again, to end austerity but it is understood the Chancellor is committed to remaining ‘fiscally credible’.

Phillip Hammond has also stated the country would need a new budget should the UK leave the European Union without a deal.

Mr Hammond  Sky News:

“If we don’t get a deal…. if we were to find ourselves in that situation then we would need to take a different approach to the future of Britian’s economy. We would need to look at a different strategy. And frankly, we’d need to have a new Budget that sets out a different strategy for the future.”

Hammond is facing pressure to find more money for spending, with even the Express running a headline urging for more spending. Theresa May has pledged an extra £20bn-a-year for the NHS within the next five years which could mean more borrowing or raising taxes.

Mr Hammond is set to announce a five-year, near-£30bn package of investment in Britain’s roads; hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of investment in broadband. The Ministry of Defence will also get an additional £500m.

This additional spending will anger some on the right of the Tory party who see this an attempt to appease voters rather than trying to control the government’s deficit.