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UK voters likely to throw Conservatives out after 14 years

UK voters likely to throw Conservatives out after 14 years

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UK voters likely to throw Conservatives out after 14 years

UK voters in general election may see Conservatives out after 14 years.

Here are some of the key numbers as UK voters go to the polls Thursday in a general election predicted to see the ruling Conservatives dumped out of office after 14 years.

650 seats

The number of seats up for grabs across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. A party needs to secure 326 seats to have a majority in parliament.

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4,515 candidates

The total number of candidates from 98 different political parties — a record. Of them, 459 are independents and 30 percent are women.

AFP also counted at least 29 joke candidates, including 22 running for the “Official Monster Raving Loony Party”.

The most common name among candidates is David, accounting for over 100 candidates, according to the Electoral Reform Society.

The youngest candidates are 18-year-olds Pedro Da Conceicao and Adam Wayne Joseph Gillman, with the oldest being 86-year-old John Hugh Morris.

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And a new national fault line has emerged to rival the 52-48 percent Brexit vote split, according to Democracy Club, which analyses election data.

It found a 52-48 percent split in favour of non-chocolate over chocolate biscuits among candidates.

46 million voters

There were over 46 million voters registered in the UK in December 2023, according to government data.

This number is likely to have risen closer to the election, which was called on May 22.

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For the first time this year, British citizens who have lived outside the country for more than 15 years will be eligible to vote as well.

40,000 polling stations

There are around 40,000 polling stations across the country, according to Democracy Club.

Any space can be used as a polling station as long as it meets certain criteria like being accessible for people with disabilities.

Several pubs are used, with this year’s election also promising polling at a ship, a beehive centre, a cricket field and a fossil museum among others.

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15 Tory ministers under threat

At least 15 Conservative candidates who are ministers in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s cabinet have been projected to lose their seats in YouGov polling.

Among them are finance secretary Jeremy Hunt, defence secretary Grant Shapps and Commons leader Penny Mordaunt.

That means just under half of Sunak’s cabinet members face the chop, with 27 ministers gunning for re-election — not including Sunak himself.

13 million pounds in donations 

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In the first three weeks of election campaigning, from May 30 to June 19, around 13 million pounds ($16.4 million) was donated to political parties, according to Electoral Commission data.

The Conservatives received around £1.2 million, while Labour received a whopping £8.4 million.

Seven water stunts

Ed Davey, leader of the smaller opposition Liberal Democrats, has taken part in seven campaign stunts involving water.

On Windermere, England’s biggest lake, he fell off a paddleboard into the water five times in 15 minutes.

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Davey, who has taken part in a water aerobics class, sped down water slides and rode an aqua-bike, is promising to clean up Britain’s polluted waterways.

12 percent trust

Only 12 percent of Britons said they trusted political parties in a government survey from last year, down from 20 percent in 2022.

Twenty-seven percent said they trusted the government, with less than a quarter trusting the House of Commons.

Just under half said they had little or no trust in their own ability to participate in politics. 

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Levels of public distrust can be used as an indicator for turnout on election day, with lower trust in politicians often translating into lower turnout.

Turnout was 67.3 percent at the last election in 2019. 

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UK’s Rwanda asylum scheme has cost 700 million pounds

UK’s Rwanda asylum scheme has cost 700 million pounds

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UK's Rwanda asylum scheme has cost 700 million pounds

 Britain’s now-scrapped plan to deport migrants who arrive illegally on British shores to Rwanda has cost taxpayers 700 million pounds ($904 million), new interior minister Yvette Cooper said on Monday.

“Two and a half years after the previous government launched (the Rwanda plan), I can report it has already cost the British taxpayer 700 million pounds,” she told parliament. 

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Hungary, Slovakia ask European Commission to mediate with Ukraine over Lukoil

Hungary, Slovakia ask European Commission to mediate with Ukraine over Lukoil

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Hungary, Slovakia ask European Commission to mediate with Ukraine over Lukoil

Hungary and Slovakia have asked the European Commission to mediate a consultation procedure with Ukraine, Hungary’s foreign minister said on Monday, after Kyiv placed Russian group Lukoil on a sanctions list, stopping its supplies to the two countries.

Slovakia and Hungary have stepped up pressure on Kyiv after they said last week they had stopped receiving oil from Lukoil via Ukraine. Hungary receives 2 million metric tonnes of oil from the Russian group annually, around a third of its total oil imports, Peter Szijjarto said.

“I spoke with the Ukrainian foreign minister yesterday, he said they allow every oil transfer through, but it’s not true,” Szijjarto told reporters while in Brussels.

The two countries have now initiated a consultation with the European Commission, he said. “The Commission has three days to execute our request, after which we will bring the issue to court.”

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Szijjarto said if the consultation procedure did not bear fruit, Hungary and Slovakia would bring the issue to an international court of their choosing instead.

In an attempt to sell the freed-up crude volumes, Lukoil has added some 140,000 metric tonnes of crude oil to its original lifting plan for the Black Sea port of Novorossiis for July, market sources said.

Lukoil’s oil supplies via Druzhba’s southern spur account for some 50% of the pipeline’s flows. MOL’s refineries in Slovakia and Hungary totally depend on supplies from Lukoil.

As an alternative, Hungary may import oil from Croatia’s Omisalj sea port via the Adria pipeline, while Slovakia is landlocked and is only able to get oil via Hungary.

Since April, oil imports via Omisalj were at around 500,000 metric tons each month. Supplies include such oil grades as Basrah, Azeri BTC and CPC Blend.

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Russia continues to supply natural gas and oil to landlocked Hungary and Slovakia via Ukraine despite the war in the country and existing EU sanctions on Russian crude.

The countries have exemptions from oil sanctions to give them more time to transition to alternative sources of supply.

Both Slovakia and Hungary also supply energy to Ukraine. Szijjarto said Hungary provided 42% of Ukrainian electricity imports last month.

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico said over the weekend that his country helped supply diesel to Ukraine, in comments in which he blasted the sanctions and said Slovakia would not be “hostage” to Ukraine-Russia relations.

On Monday Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Blanar reiterated some of Fico’s comments, saying that the sanction had a bigger impact on Slovakia and the EU than Russia itself.

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Ukraine’s ban does not affect other Russian oil exporters whose oil was still allowed to transit through Ukraine.

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Russian troops mount pressure on Ukrainian logistics hub of Pokrovsk

Russian troops mount pressure on Ukrainian logistics hub of Pokrovsk

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Russian troops mount pressure on Ukrainian logistics hub of Pokrovsk

Ukraine’s top commander said on Monday that Russian forces were staging relentless assaults to try to advance towards the town of Pokrovsk, a logistics hub in the east and that there was active fighting taking place along the entire front line.

Nearly 29 months after the full-scale invasion, Ukraine has stepped up its mobilisation effort to address its manpower shortages and been reinforced by supplies of Western artillery shells, but Russian troops have continued to inch forward.

“The enemy pays no attention to their fairly high level of losses and continues to push through towards Pokrovsk,” Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi said in a statement from the eastern front.

Pokrovsk is less than 25 km (15 miles) from Russian-occupied land, according to open-source intelligence battlefield maps, and lies at an intersection of roads and a railway that makes it an important logistics point for the military and for civilians in the east.

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“Active combat operations of varying intensity are taking place along the entire front,” Syrskyi said, noting that Russian forces were also trying to capture floodplain islands near the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson.

FIGHTING RAGES IN EAST

Fierce battles, he said, also raged near several eastern villages and towns, including Krasnohorivka and Chasiv Yar, a strategic hilltop town whose capture would bring Russia closer to threatening important Kyiv-held Donetsk region cities.

That’s a balance to be found between perfect security, which is the priority. And there is no discussion.

Russia staged 39 assaults on the Pokrovsk front in the last 24 hours of a total of 117 registered along the front line, the military said in its daily battlefield readout.

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Russian forces captured two villages in the east over the weekend, Russian media said, citing the Defence Ministry.

Though Kyiv’s weary troops have been on the backfoot this year with Russia again on the offensive and keeping up the pressure, Moscow’s progress has been slow.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who travels to China this week on a diplomatic trip, estimated on Friday that Russia controlled 17.68% of Ukrainian territory compared with 17.61% on Jan. 1, 2024.

A senior NATO official said this month that Russia lacked the munitions and troops for a major offensive in Ukraine and would need to secure significant ammunition supplies from other countries beyond what it already has to do so.

LONG-RANGE STRIKES

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Russia has pounded Ukraine’s electricity system with airstrikes in recent months, causing regular power cuts across the country.

Ukraine has used domestic-made drones to attack targets in Russia and staged a major overnight strike that damaged its Tuapse oil refinery, its biggest on the Black Sea.

In his statement, Syrskyi said it was vital for Kyiv to conduct long-range strikes on Russian forces, echoing Ukrainian officials who have appealed to allies to allow Kyiv to use Western-supplied weapons to attack military targets inside Russia.

Russia has warned that the use of U.S. and Western weapons against targets inside Russia could trigger a new level of confrontation.

Ukraine is also grappling with a shortage of short-range anti-aircraft missiles to repel Russian reconnaissance drones and is having to rely on drones and other electronic warfare systems for defence, he said. 

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