Stay au courant with trending names, words and expressions from the UK.
Last updated on 9 January 2024
9 January 2024
The Post Office Horizon scandal
The Post Office Horizon IT scandal is regarded as one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in British legal history. It has received renewed attention through the 2024 ITV drama Mr Bates vs the Post Office.
Between 1999 and 2015, more than 700 sub-postmasters were wrongly accused of theft and fraud based on faulty information from the Horizon accounting software, developed by Fujitsu.
In 2019, the High Court ruled that the Horizon system was faulty. An independent public inquiry into the scandal will soon begin its third year of hearings. Some victims are still fighting to have their convictions overturned and receive compensation, and the police are investigating the Post Office for possible fraud offences.
Under mounting pressure, the Post Office’s former chief executive Paula Vennells has just announced that she’ll be returning her CBE honour, which was awarded to her in the 2019 New Year Honours List. During her time as CEO, the Post Office denied problems with Horizon and pursued prosecutions against postmasters.
BBC: Post Office scandal explained: What the Horizon saga is all about
featured image: Mick Haupt / Unsplash
28 November 2023
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak cancelled a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the last minute, after a diplomatic row erupted over the future of the Elgin Marbles.
The cancellation came after Mr Mitsotakis told the BBC that the Marbles should be returned to Greece, saying that having some of the artefacts in London and the rest in Athens was like “cutting the Mona Lisa in half”.
The UK government considers the Marbles to be part of the British Museum’s permanent collection. Mr Sunak’s spokesman told reporters: “We have no plans to change our approach and certainly we think that the museum is the right place for them.”
The Elgin Marbles, also known as the Parthenon Marbles, are a collection of ancient Greek sculptures from the Parthenon and other structures from the Acropolis in Athens, held in the British Museum in London. They were brought to Britain in the 19th century by the British ambassador Lord Elgin, who insisted he had permission to remove them from the Ottoman Empire, which controlled Athens at the time.
BBC: What are the Elgin Marbles and how did Britain get them?
15 November 2023
Rwanda asylum plan
The UK government’s Rwanda plan, designed to tackle illegal migration, has been ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court today, ending over 18 months of legal battles.
Under the plan, announced in April 2022, some asylum seekers would have been sent to Rwanda to claim asylum there. The Court said there was a risk that asylum seekers could be returned to their home country, which would breach UK and international human rights laws.
Sky News: Rwanda: Supreme Court has ruled on the government’s plan – everything you need to know
9 November 2023
The annual fundraising campaign in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day (or Poppy Day) on 11 November is called the Poppy Appeal, with poppies worn on clothing, cropping up in shops, on cars and buildings, and poppy wreaths at war memorials. The poppy is a symbol of remembrance. Remembrance poppies are sold by The Royal British Legion, a charity providing financial, social, political, and emotional support to those who have served or are currently serving in the British Armed Forces, and their families.
Remembrance Day is the anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War. The first Sunday closest to 11 November is annually appointed for the full-scale Remembrance Service. On Remembrance Sunday, services and parades are held across the UK to honour those who have lost their lives in military conflicts.
Red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers were referenced in the famous poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae. McCrae was a Canadian military doctor, whose friend died in the Second Battle of Ypres, in West Flanders, Belgium, in 1915.
29 October 2023
The upcoming two-day global Artificial Intelligence (AI) summit will take place at Bletchley Park, an estate in the county of Buckinghamshire. Hosted by the UK government, the first global summit on AI will bring together around 100 political leaders, tech industry figures and leading AI experts. The purpose of the discussions is to consider the risks of AI, how they could be mitigated, and to build an international consensus on the future of AI.
The location is significant. Bletchley Park is the historic home of Britain’s wartime codebreakers and computer pioneers. It was at Bletchley Park that Alan Turing and his team cracked the German Enigma code. The nature of the work at Bletchley remained secret until the mid-1970s. After the war, Bletchley Park had a variety of uses, including as a teacher-training college. Today, it is a heritage site and a visitor attraction, with over 250,000 visitors a year.
13 October 2023
Speaking at the Labour party conference in Liverpool this week, Sir Keir Starmer reiterated his pledge to build an extra 300,000 new homes a year if Labour wins the election. Labour plans to overhaul the planning system to make it easier to override the concerns of people living near new developments.
Asked by the BBC if the plans made him a “yimby”, Starmer replied: “I am, yes. I think that it’s very important that we build the homes that we need for the future; hugely, hugely important for the aspiration of young people who desperately want to get on the housing ladder … a massive failure for the last 13 years.”
A YIMBY is a person who supports new housing development in the area where they live, and increasing the supply of housing in cities where housing has become unaffordable. YIMBY stands for “yes in my back yard”, as opposed to NIMBY, which stands for “not in my back yard”.
7 October 2023
HS2, or High Speed 2, is Britain’s new high-speed rail line, being built from London to the North-West. It was to be the largest infrastructure project in Europe, completely transforming public transport between London and the North. (HS1 is the high-speed rail line between London and Kent, connecting the UK to routes in mainland Europe.)
After delays and spiralling costs, the government decided to scrap the Birmingham-Manchester HS2 line. As a result, passengers will only be able to travel by high-speed rail between London and Birmingham, rather than all the way north to Manchester.
The decision was announced by the Prime Minister at the Conservative party conference earlier this week and has caused anger among local leaders and businesses. The PM promised to use the money saved to invest “in alternative transport projects in the north”.
The Week: Pros and cons of HS2
29 September 2023
Sycamore Gap Tree
The Sycamore Gap Tree was an iconic sycamore standing next to Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland. It was one of the best-loved and most-photographed trees in the UK, believed to have been around 300 years old. It was also known as the Robin Hood Tree because it was featured in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
The Sycamore Gap Tree was felled yesterday, on 28 September 2023, by a 16-year-old boy in an act of vandalism. The felling has caused widespread shock and sadness. The tree was a much-loved landmark, and its loss is a huge blow to the local community and to the environment.
The National Trust, which owns the land on which the tree stood, said it was possible that the tree could grow some new shoots next spring, but they would take many decades to grow into a new tree.
27 September 2023
The 1951 Refugee Convention
Home secretary Suella Braverman has refused to rule out withdrawing from the 1951 Convention, which sets minimum international standards for the treatment of refugees. Addressing a US think tank earlier this week, Braverman claimed the international community had failed to reform the 1951 UN Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). She called for new rules that are ‘fit for the modern age’.
Her speech has sparked controversy, drawing a rebuke from by the UN and fierce criticism from human rights organisations, refugee support groups and the opposition.
13 September 2023
pensions triple lock
The UK state pension rises every April in line with whichever of these three measures is highest: consumer price inflation; the average increase in wages; or 2.5%. This ‘triple lock’ was introduced by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government in 2010 to prevent the value of the state pension from being outstripped by increases in the cost of living or wages.
Next year’s pensions should therefore rise by the highest of 2.5%, prices, or average earnings, which would mean an increase of 8.5%. The Treasury is considering ‘tweaking’ the formula to reduce the cost to the taxpayer.
The future of the triple lock is now one of the most sensitive issues in British politics. Last weekend, the PM declined to say whether a pledge to keep it would be included in the Conservative party manifesto for the next election.
The triple lock system has proved to be a burden for successive government because of concerns about the state of the public finances. In the past, there have been calls for it to be scrapped or altered, amid fears that it was becoming too expensive.
6 September 2023
Just days before the start of the new school year, more than 100 schools across the country were forced to close due to concerns about RAAC.
Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) is a cheap alternative to traditional concrete mixes. Faster to produce and easier to install, RAAC was used in thousands of public buildings in the UK from the 1950s to the 1990s, including hundreds of schools. However, it is less durable than standard concrete and prone to structural failure, with a lifespan of around 30 years.
Experts have warned that the RAAC crisis could extend beyond schools, with hospitals, courts and offices also at risk.
TES magazine: RAAC crisis: everything you need to know
31 August 2023
The ULEZ, or Ultra Low Emission Zone, is an area in London where an emissions standard-based charge is applied to non-compliant road vehicles. It expanded on 29 August 2023 to encompass the entirety of London. The ULEZ aims to reduce air pollution, which the UK government says is the most significant environmental risk to people’s health. The Mayor of London, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, says the ULEZ expansion will save lives.
To avoid paying the £12.50 daily charge for entering the ULEZ areas, vehicles must meet the minimum emissions standards. Failure to pay this daily charge will result in a penalty of £180. Generally, petrol cars registered after 2005 meet the minimum emissions requirements.
The extension is currently a highly divisive issue. It has sparked protests, with 300 ULEZ cameras having been vandalised or stolen between April and mid-August. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has criticised the expansion, citing the cost of living crisis. Voter concerns about the ULEZ were even pinned as the reason for Labour’s failure to win the by-elections in an outer London constituency in July. The expansion was allowed after the High Court ruled it lawful, following a legal challenge by five Conservative-led councils.
Research by Imperial College London has found that in 2019, 4,000 premature deaths were caused by air pollution. The inquest into the death of 9-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah in south-east London in 2013 made her the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death.
The Guardian: Government to use Ulez expansion to attack Labour over ‘war on motorists’
Danika Mleko, Monika Kokoszycka
9 June 2023
Prince Harry appeared in London’s High Court this week to argue that articles about his private life published in UK tabloids owned by Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) contained information obtained illegally.
The Duke of Sussex is the first senior British royal to give evidence in court since 1891. He is one of more than 100 people who are suing MGN, which publishes the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday People, accusing them of unlawful activities between 1991 and 2011, and aiming to show that practices such as phone hacking were carried out on an “industrial scale.”
In 2011, it was revealed that journalists from the News of The World newspaper had interfered with the police investigation into the disappearance of missing schoolgirl Millie Dowler by illegally listening to her voicemail messages. Further investigations revealed phone hacking of victims of the 2005 London bombings, relatives of deceased British soldiers, as well as celebrities, politicians, and members of the royal family. The scandal sent shockwaves across the country, leading to a public inquiry, a regulatory overhaul and the conviction of a number of journalists, editors, private investigators and police officers.
CNN: UK Phone Hacking Scandal Fast Facts
BBC: Prince Harry’s claims and how they were challenged
The Washington Post: Why the UK Phone-Hacking Scandal Still Matters
3 June 2023
Phillip Schofield is an English television presenter best known for hosting This Morning and Dancing On Ice, alongside Holly Willoughby (“Phil and Holly”). He has been a household name in the UK for most of his life, having started working in the media as a teenager.
Schofield made headlines in May when he admitted to having an extramarital affair with a younger male colleague, and lying about it for years to his family, his agent, his bosses and his co-host. He left ITV, was dropped by his talent agency, and was removed as an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust charity, founded by King Charles.
Schofield claimed that the media interest and the public reaction to his affair were partly driven by homophobia. He strongly denied allegations of grooming.
In a recent widely quoted BBC interview, Schofield revealed that he had felt suicidal and described his career as being over.
24 May 2023
The impartiality of the UK civil service has been increasingly questioned by a number of Conservative politicians and commentators.
The Civil Service in the UK is a politically neutral body whose role it is to implement the policies of the elected government and the decisions of government ministers. Civil servants carry out the practical and administrative work of government and are employees of the Crown, not of the UK parliament or government.
After home secretary Suella Braverman was accused of asking civil servants to arrange a private one-to-one speed awareness course (PM Rishi Sunak decided not to launch an investigation into her conduct), and Boris Johnson was referred to the police yesterday over further allegations of potentially rule-breaking meetings during Covid lockdowns, right-wing Tory members are complaining that senior party figures are being pursued in a “witch hunt” led by a “blob” of civil servants.
The term ‘blob’ comes from the 1958 science fiction film; the Blob was an amoeboid alien that enveloped the living beings it encountered. The insult seems to have been popularised by Dominic Cummings when he was Boris Johnson’s chief advisor. Michael Gove, as education secretary, used it to describe the apparent vested interests in the education sector.
Earlier this month, the government’s U-turn on its planned “Brexit bonfire of EU laws”, or the EU Retained Law Bill, was also blamed on the civil service by some Tory backbenchers (“the blob has triumphed”).
Dominic Raab, who resigned as justice secretary and deputy prime minister after an inquiry upheld some of the bullying allegations against him, accused civil servants of coordinating against him, while his supporters accused “the Civil Service Blob” of wanting “to take out Dom Raab.”
An email to Conservative Party members earlier this year, signed by Ms Braverman, also blamed the government’s failure to stop people arriving by boat from claiming asylum in the UK on “an activist blob of left-wing lawyers, civil servants and the Labour Party.”
16 May 2023
The government has announced new laws to make life easier for leaseholders in England and Wales. However, the new legislation will stop short of abolishing the leasehold system altogether, following “a battle” between Downing Street and housing secretary Michael Gove, who promised to scrap the system back in January.
Leasehold is a long-term tenancy where someone buys the right to live in a property for a certain period, usually 99 or 125 years. Unless the leaseholder makes arrangements to extend it, once the lease ends, ownership of the property returns to the freeholder, who owns the building and the land it sits on. Around 20 percent of homes in England are leasehold properties. Leaseholders have to pay extra costs to the building owner, including ground rent and service charges.
Mr Gove described the current system as “an outdated feudal system that needs to go.” He wanted to replace leaseholds for flats with a “commonhold” system, which would allow owners to make joint decisions about what should happen in shared areas of the building.
6 May 2023
Homage of the People
The coronation of Charles III and his wife Camilla on 6 May 2023 featured several modern changes, including the first ‘Homage of the People’, which replaced the traditional ‘Homage of Peers‘, a part of the ceremony where peers pledge their allegiance to the monarch.
The call for the public to pay homage to the King sparked controversy. A number of commentators criticised the new addition as divisive, with many saying such an oath of loyalty was more suited to feudal times than the 21st century. The campaign group Republic argued that “in a democracy it is the head of state who should be swearing allegiance to the people, not the other way around.”
Following the criticism, the wording of the invitation was changed. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the ceremonial head of the Church of England, was originally to “call upon” the public to “pay true allegiance”, but instead “invited” those who wished to “offer their support to do so with a moment of private reflection.”
2 May 2023
An armed conflict between the two main factions of the ruling military regime in Sudan: the Sudanese army and its paramilitary rival, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), broke out on 15 April 2023.
The UK began evacuating its nationals much later than other foreign governments, for which the government was initially criticised. The Foreign Office has since described the UK evacuation as “the largest of any Western nation”.
The final UK rescue flights are expected to take off from Sudan on Wednesday 3 May.
More than 2,300 people have so far been airlifted to safety on 28 UK flights.
22 April 2023
Dominic Raab bullying report
On 21 April 2023, Dominic Raab resigned as justice secretary and deputy prime minister after an investigation upheld some bullying allegations against him.
The inquiry, led by Adam Tolley KC, looked at formal complaints covering Mr Raab’s time as Brexit secretary under Theresa May, and as justice secretary and foreign secretary under Boris Johnson.
The report concludes that Mr Raab acted in an “intimidating way” and was “unreasonably and persistently aggressive” in meetings.
Mr Raab disputed substantial parts of the report and accused civil servants of coordinating against him. In his resignation letter, he claimed the inquiry had set “the threshold for bullying so low” that it had “set a dangerous precedent”.
24 March 2023
The Met and the Casey review
The Metropolitan Police Service, or the Met, is the police force for London, with some specialist responsibilities for the whole of the UK, e.g. counter-terrorism or protection of foreign embassies and the royal family. It’s the largest police force in the UK and one of the largest in the world.
On 21 March a report was released which found the Met to be “institutionally sexist, racist and homophobic.”
The independent review of the Met’s culture and standards began in February 2022 and was commissioned following the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving police officer Wayne Couzens, in 2021. In the course of the review, another Met officer, David Carrick, was convicted of a series of rapes, sexual offences and torture of women.
The review was led by Baroness Casey of Blackstock, an independent advisor on social welfare, and a serving crossbench peer in the House of Lords, who was the UK’s first Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses of Crime.
Casey described her investigation into the Met as a troubling experience, saying she was “appalled” by what she uncovered. She warned that the force could be dismantled if it did not improve.
Her report was described as excoriating” by The Times and “blistering” by the BBC, which concluded: Met Police: Women and children failed by ‘boys’ club’.
Even before the damning findings were published, half of Londoners (51%) said they didn’t trust the Metropolitan Police very much or at all, compared to 42% who said they tended to trust them.
16 March 2023
Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) was the 16th largest bank in the US. It had assets of about $209 billion in December 2022 and was the go-to bank for tech start-ups. It collapsed on 10 March 2023 as a result of several factors, including its investments losing value and its depositors withdrawing large amounts of money.
In Britain, SVB provided banking services for 3,500 customers, including 40 percent of the UK’s biotech sector. UK tech companies heaved a sigh of relief when the London-based giant HSBC bought the British arm of SVB for a symbolic £1.
The deal had been brokered by the Bank of England, following a frantic weekend when “a small army” of ministers, regulators and banking executives scrambled “to avert a cash crunch that could paralyse startups across the UK” and to prevent contagion.
Politico: Saving Silicon Valley Bank UK: How the British tech sector averted disaster
12 March 2023
Gary Lineker, former professional footballer, regarded as one of the greatest strikers for England, and current sports broadcaster for the BBC, has found himself in the centre of major controversy around the UK’s immigration policy and the UK’s national broadcaster’s impartiality.
Earlier this month, Lineker criticised the UK’s asylum policy via Twitter, commenting on a video message by the home secretary, Suella Braverman, about stopping migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats. In a highly controversial follow-up tweet, he said the government’s new policy was “immeasurably cruel” and “directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”.
Although Lineker was comparing the rhetoric and language and not the UK government’s actual policy, many people criticised him for making the link between Nazi Germany and the UK.
The BBC, for whom Lineker has presented the flagship football programme Match of the Day since the late 1990s, said his tweets broke editorial guidelines, and he was suspended as a result.
The fallout has been extraordinary; the story quickly became the lead on social media, on websites, in newspapers and radio broadcasts, and exploded into a national debate about impartiality and a crisis at the BBC.
Several other football commentators and football hosts refused to present Match of the Day or pulled out of their respective roles in BBC programmes out of solidarity with Lineker. The BBC was forced to reduce its sports-related schedules for 11 and 12 March.
In an unprecedented turn of events, Match of the Day went ahead without any hosts, featuring only match footage.
Gary Lineker is also known for his appearances in TV commercials for the snack company Walkers. In 2000, Lineker’s Walkers commercials were ranked 9th in Channel 4’s poll of “The 100 Greatest TV Ads”.
5 March 2023
The Lockdown Files
The Telegraph’s Lockdown Files are a series of stories about the UK government’s handling of the COVID pandemic. The articles are based on more than 100,000 WhatsApp messages sent between the then health secretary Matt Hancock and other UK ministers and officials at the height of the pandemic. The leaked messages reveal how Mr Hancock failed to follow advice from the UK’s chief medical officer to test all residents going into English care homes. The Telegraph also reports on “how children’s education was sacrificed” to avoid political rows, how isolation rules could have allegedly been lifted sooner, and how ministers tried to “frighten the public” to get people to follow lockdown rules.
The WhatsApp exchanges were handed to the newspaper by journalist Isabel Oakeshott, the co-author of Hancock’s recently published diaries. The journalist argues that releasing the messages is in the public interest because the current public inquiry into the response to the pandemic could take years to conclude.
1 March 2023
The Windsor Framework
The UK and the EU have finally resolved the long-standing dispute over Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit arrangements.
Under the agreement – dubbed the “Windsor Framework” – most goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will no longer need customs checks as long as they are not intended for the EU market. All items available in British supermarkets will also be sold in Northern Ireland; drugs approved by the UK’s regulator will be automatically available in Northern Ireland.
EU legislation will still apply to some industries, particularly on food and animal products. The Court of Justice of the EU will remain the final arbiter of matters related to EU law.
Under certain conditions, the Northern Ireland Assembly (often referred to as Stormont) will be allowed a veto to stop any new EU legislation applying in the region (the “Stormont Brake”).
The new deal was announced on 27 February 2023. It has been named the Windsor Framework as it was agreed in Windsor, near London, during discussions between PM Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen.
It must now be voted through by the Parliament to become official. If approved, it will replace the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol deal struck by former PM Boris Johnson. It is not certain that it will be backed by some hardliners within Rishi Sunak’s own party or by Northern Ireland’s national conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
25 Feb 2023
Rewriting Roald Dahl
The British children’s book publisher Puffin Books decided to edit Roald Dahl’s novels to make them more suitable for modern audiences. Content deemed offensive such as references to weight, mental health, violence, gender and race were removed or rewritten.
The decision sparked outrage and a fierce debate, with some accusing the publisher of censorship, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak weighing in on the debate, expressing concern over “airbrushing.”
Following the criticism, Puffin announced that the original classic texts will be kept in print alongside the new versions.
Roald Dahl’s books have sold more than 300 million copies worldwide. While considered one of Britain’s favourite authors, Dahl was controversial due to his history of making anti-Semitic comments and including racist tropes and language in his works.
18 Feb 2023
Disappearance of Nicola Bulley
On 27 January 2023, Nicola Bulley disappeared from the Lancashire village of St Michael’s on Wyre. The 45-year-old vanished while walking her dog, after taking her two daughters to school.
Despite a massive search effort, no trace of Bulley has yet been found. Police believe she most likely fell into the River Wyre. The investigation appears to have stalled, and criticism has been mounting.
Bulley’s mysterious disappearance has prompted an exceptional amount of online speculation, sparked conspiracy theories and prompted a surge in amateur detectives getting involved.
Update: On 19 February, Nicola Bulley’s body was found in the river.
2 Feb 2023
Walkout Wednesday: 1 Feb 2023
Britain is experiencing a wave of strikes on a scale not seen since the 1980s.
In disputes over pay, jobs and conditions, 500,000 public sector workers, including teachers, train drivers, civil servants, university lecturers, bus drivers and security guards, went on coordinated strike on ‘Walkout Wednesday’, the biggest day of industrial action in Britain for more than a decade.
Protests were held across the country against the government’s controversial plans for a new law on minimum service levels during strikes. More walkouts are expected next week and will be dominated by NHS staff, with both nurses and ambulance workers planning action.
26 Jan 2023
“HMRC” stands for His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. It is a government department responsible for the collection of taxes.
HMRC has been in the spotlight this week due to a tax row involving former chancellor, or finance minister, Nadhim Zahawi. He reportedly paid a multi-million pound penalty over unpaid tax while he was chancellor. Mr Zahawi initially denied claims he did not pay the correct tax at the right time. He is now being extensively questioned in Parliament and the media.
11 Jan 2023
As industrial disputes continue to paralyse services across Britain, the government is bringing forward new anti-strike legislation.
Trade unions representing workers in key sectors, including fire, ambulance and rail services, would have to agree to minimum levels of safety and service when their members go on strike. Critics argue that the bill violates the right to strike. Unions have threatened legal challenges.
6 Dec 2022
winter of discontent
Britain will be affected by strikes almost every day in the run-up to Christmas and beyond. Thousands of nurses, firefighters, teachers, lecturers, civil servants, transport, postal and security workers are taking industrial action in the coming weeks in disputes over pay and working conditions.
The army is on standby; hundreds of troops are being trained to drive ambulances and to firefight. Rishi Sunak’s government is facing a crisis with parallels to the Winter of Discontent.
During the freezing winter of 1978 and 1979, strikes erupted across Britain as workers protested against wage restrictions.
The term “winter of discontent” is taken from the opening line of William Shakespeare’s play “Richard III”.
23 Nov 2022
The UK’s Supreme Court has ruled that Scotland cannot hold a second referendum on independence without the UK government’s consent.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had proposed a second referendum – dubbed indyref2 – for October 2023.
The judgment is a major setback for the Scottish National Party’s hopes of securing Scottish independence. In the independence referendum held in September 2014, Scotland voted narrowly against breaking away from the UK.
Recent opinion polls have suggested that the country is split down the middle on the independence question, with a very narrow majority in favour of staying part of the United Kingdom.
15 Nov 2022
The 2022 Autumn Statement, a form of interim mini-budget, will set out the British government’s fiscal plans. It will be presented alongside the latest economic forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility.
The statement is scheduled for 17 November and will be delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer (British finance minister), Jeremy Hunt.
The UK economy faces a number of serious challenges. The cost of living is soaring. The Bank of England has warned that the country is facing its longest recession since records began. The Chancellor has warned that “decisions of eye-watering difficulty” lie ahead.
Hunt is set to announce tens of billions of pounds worth of spending cuts. He is also expected to raise taxes for everyone.
The government argues that austerity measures are necessary to plug a hole in public finances. However, some economists have raised doubts about the government’s calculations and the measures proposed.
11 Nov 2022
Poppy Appeal & Remembrance
11 November is Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War. The first Sunday closest to 11 November is annually appointed for the full-scale Remembrance Service.
On Remembrance Sunday, services and parades are held across the UK to honour those who have lost their lives in military conflicts.
The annual fundraising campaign in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day (or Poppy Day) is called the Poppy Appeal. You see poppies worn on clothing, cropping up in shops, on cars and buildings, and poppy wreaths at war memorials. The poppy is a symbol of remembrance. Remembrance poppies are sold by The Royal British Legion, a charity providing financial, social, political, and emotional support to those who have served or are currently serving in the British Armed Forces, and their families.
Red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers were referenced in the famous poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae. McCrae was a Canadian military doctor, whose friend died in the Second Battle of Ypres, in West Flanders, Belgium, in 1915.
3 Nov 2022
A record number of people have crossed the English Channel in small boats this year. 40,000 – compared to 28,000 who arrived in 2021. This is the highest number since these figures began to be collected in 2018. Even though the English Channel is one of the most dangerous and busiest shipping lanes in the world, the numbers crossing the Channel are rising.
The crisis has deepened amid growing concern over the conditions in which migrants are being held while waiting for their applications to be processed once they arrive in Britain. Migrant centres are overcrowded, and there have been reports of diseases.
In response to criticism, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said that the UK’s asylum system is “broken”. She described the number of migrants crossing the Channel as an “invasion”. Her words came a day after a petrol bomb attack on a migrant processing centre in Dover. She was accused of stirring up division with her derogatory language.
27 Oct 2022
Britain’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reappointed almost a third of the cabinet to the same jobs they held under Lizz Truss. He also brought back some key figures to the roles they held under Boris Johnson.
A notable element of this reshuffle is the stability in three of the top jobs: chancellor, foreign secretary and defence secretary.
21 Oct 2022
The 1922 Committee
The 1922 Committee, known more formally as the Conservative Private Members’ Committee, is a committee of all backbench Conservative Members of Parliament. The group was formed in 1923 by MPs who were elected in 1922. Backbenchers are MPs without any governmental office or official position in the opposition. The 1922 Committee is currently in the news due to Liz Truss’s resignation as Prime Minister. The Committee’s role is crucial. It has the power to table a vote of no-confidence in a leader or trigger a leadership election. The chair, currently Sir Graham Brady, has now set out the rules for the new election. The ballot will close on 28 October and the result will be announced on the same day.
15 Oct 2022
It’s a 180-degree turn made by a vehicle in a road. It also means a reversal of policy.
Prime Minister Liz Truss sacked chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng. She carried out a dramatic U-turn on his mini-budget. The former chancellor’s set of new fiscal policies proved to be extremely controversial, with serious political and economic consequences.