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United Kingdom

On Twitter, conversations around Scotland’s independence, dampened momentarily by a failed referendum in 2014, have been reinvigorated with the advent of Brexit. This article examines how public sentiment towards Scottish independence varies across the United Kingdom’s four constituent nations (England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland) by analyzing tweets made in January of this year in lead up to Brexit. Perhaps not surprisingly, the majority of tweets totaling 4,462 (71.4%) on the subject were sent from the mainland of Scotland. 1,387 (22.2%) tweets were sent from England, whereas Wales and Northern Ireland have 286 and 212 tweets respectively, collectively accounting for less than 6% of the all tweets (see Figure 1). Despite the significant difference in the volume of tweets, the …

Brexit has weakened populists on the continent? This is wishful thinking. No longer willing to leave the EU, instead populists are determined to take it over. Brexit is a moving target. Each time we think we have a deal, the British House of Commons decides to re-think. It’s like the famous passage from T.S. Eliot: “Time yet for a hundred indecisions/And for a hundred visions and revisions,/ Before taking a toast and tea.” Boris Johnson expected the Parliament to approve the exit deal he reached with the EU. Instead, the Parliament voted for an amendment tabled by a Tory MP, Sir Oliver Letwin. The amendment withholds approval of the deal, until the legislation to enact it is safely passed – …

Crossrail, still trumpeted as the largest construction project in Europe, and once held up as a paragon of a well-run, on-time and on-budget development, is now late and seriously over budget. Praise has been replaced by political infighting as the blame game gets into full swing and warnings that this will further imperil Transport for London’s (TFL) already shaky looking finances. However, hidden beneath the debris of mismanagement is something much worse: the willingness of the British government to plough vast sums into transport in London, whilst simultaneously underfunding transport in the rest of the country. Across the UK public transport has been de-regulated and privatised under policies originating in the 1980s, yet, London is a treated as a special …

On June 23rd, 2016, the citizens of the UK voted to leave the European Union. This began an unprecedented process of dissociation, commonly known as Brexit. Among the many challenges that Brexit poses is how to handle the border between Britain and the Republic of Ireland. In the recent past, the “soft” border between the two nations has allowed for the free flow of people and goods. However, if Brexit negotiations fail, a “hard” border will replace the currently soft border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. This presents a problem because under present conditions the border allows for mutually beneficial economic and social exchange, as well as having been instrumental in guaranteeing the Northern Irish peace process. This border …

  Since the general election was called Labour have gone up in the GB vote intention polls while the Liberal Democrats and especially UKIP have dropped. The Conservatives have fluctuated but on average remained steady. The following graph shows the overall trends. Looking at those pollsters that have published at least two polls since 18th April, the picture is pretty consistent for Labour, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP. As following three graphs of GB polls by fieldwork end date show, the trends are pretty much the same for nearly all pollsters. The more complicated picture is for the Conservatives. They went up on average at the beginning of the campaign, but, as the graph below shows, this was true for some …

On April 19, 2017, parliament voted to endorse the government’s motion to hold a UK general election on 8 June 2017. This was the first time that the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act (FTPA) were invoked. When the Act was introduced in 2011, the coalition government justified it by arguing that “fixed-term parliaments will have a positive impact on our country’s political system; providing stability, discouraging short-termism, and preventing the manipulation of election dates for political advantage.” Yet, the ease with which Prime Minister Theresa May was able to trigger the early election in light of her 21 point opinion poll lead over Labour over the Easter weekend appeared to cast doubt on its ability to deliver these aims. …

On 18th April 2017 Theresa May announced a snap general election to take place on 8th June. The announcement came as a surprise and was widely believed to be motivated by the large lead in the polls (approximately twenty points) that Ms May holds over her main rival, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. In calling the snap election at this point, Theresa May has put a lot of confidence in her projected lead in the polls. This is interesting because British election polls have previously been met with a large degree of skepticism and distrust. In this blogpost, I briefly explore the British polling experience and highlight the various explanations that have been provided for the UK’s poor track record …

The polls in Scotland just before the last election showed a 21-point lead for SNP over Labour. The SNP went on to take all but one of Labour’s 41 Scottish seats. This week Theresa May called a general election in the wake of polls showing her Conservative party 21 points ahead of Labour. Could Labour now be headed for a Britain wide meltdown of the kind that they suffered in Scotland two years ago? Intriguingly, the distribution of the 2015 Labour share of the vote across the seats they are defending now is very similar to the distribution of their 2010 share of the vote in the Scottish seats that they were defending in 2015. In both sets the vast …