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General Election 2019 – Exit Poll

Having managed to ignore most of the rhetoric since the announcement of a General Election on 12 December 2019, the election finally came to pass and my first item to report on is the Exit Poll which was announced at 10:00 pm on Thursday 12 December.

An Exit Poll asks voters as they leave a polling station who they actually voted for. The Ipsos Mori Exit Poll was held in 144 constituencies in England Scotland and Wales and are chosen as being representative of the country. As voters leave the polling station they are selected at regular intervals to fill in a replica ballot paper which is placed into a box to be opened and counted later – in this way they do not have to identify who they voted for. These votes are used to determine voting patterns which can be extended across the country as a whole to determine the potential result of the election. The first 2019 exit poll will not cover the last half hour or so of voting in order to be available to be released at 10:00 pm – it may, however, be updated to reflect actual results from the election as they are announced.

The prediction is:

Exit Poll
Party Seats
Conservative 368
Labour 191
SNP 55
LD 13
Others 23

UK-US Trade and Investment Working Group

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Jeremy Corbyn (Leader of the Labour Party) recently presented a number of documents which cover six rounds of talks between U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) officials and UK officials from the Department of International Trade. These documents detail meetings which were held between July 2017 and July 2019. With all the rhetoric flying around, it’s useful to explore what’s actually been happening with regards to discussions about a future trading relationship with the USA.

The meetings were preparatory meetings ahead of formal trade talks.

The UK-US Trade and Investment Working Group was established in July 2017 by UK Secretary of State for International Trade Dr Liam Fox MP and United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer.

Since its inception, the Working Group has been laying the groundwork for an ambitious and wide-ranging potential future free trade agreement once the UK has left the EU, as well as ensuring commercial continuity for UK and US businesses, workers, and consumers.

The Working Group delegations were led by officials from the UK Department for International Trade (DIT) and USTR. It also included representatives from a wide range of UK and U.S. Government departments and agencies.

Total trade between the two countries is already worth about £190 billion a year. We are each other’s largest source of foreign direct investment and, according to U.S. statistics, the UK and U.S. have around $1 trillion invested in each other’s economies. Every day around one million Americans go to work for UK firms, while around one million Britons go to work for American firms.

The documents presented by Jeremy Corbyn were posted on reddit around mid-october – it is unclear where the poster obtained them.

These meetings were held during Prime Minister Theresa May’s tenure and while Dr Liam Fox (MP) was Secretary of State for International Trade, running the Department for International Trade (DiT).

The meetings were mentioned in statements released by DiT, but other details do not appear to have been released to the public. The documents made available by Jeremy Corbyn, contain reports on the discussion and outcome of the meetings.

USTR Signs Mutual Recognition Agreements with the United Kingdom


On February 14, 2019, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney and Ambassador Kim Darroch, United Kingdom (UK) Ambassador to the United States, signed two mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) covering telecom equipment, electro-magnetic compatibility (EMC) for information and communications technology products, pharmaceutical good manufacturing practice (GMP) inspections, and marine equipment.

These MRAs with the UK replicate substantive provisions of existing MRAs between the United States and the European Union for these sectors and will ensure that U.S.-UK trade in these product sectors is not disrupted when the UK leaves the European Union. U.S. exports to the UK of products covered by these agreements exceeded $5 billion in 2018.

Agreement on Mutual Recognition Between the U.S.-UK

Agreement Between the U.S.-UK on the Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Conformity for Marine Equipment

U.S.-UK Agreement on Trade in Wine

USTR Signs Wine and Distilled Spirits Continuity Agreements with the UK

On January 31, 2019, Ambassador Gregg Doud, USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator, and Ambassador Kim Darroch, United Kingdom (UK) Ambassador to the United States, signed two agreements covering wine and distilled spirits today to ensure there is no disruption in trade of these products between the United States and the UK when the UK leaves the European Union (EU). Currently the United States has agreements on wine and distilled spirits with the European Union which cover trade with the UK by virtue of its membership in the EU.

U.S.-UK Agreement on Trade in Wine

US-UK Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Certain Distilled Spirits/Spirits Drinks


Other useful links

The UK is preparing for an independent trade policy to implement after EU Exit. This means the UK will have the opportunity to negotiate and enter into trade agreements with other countries.


These agreements can:

  • enable increased trade and investment
  • secure access for UK exporters to the key markets of today and the future
  • give consumers access to a greater range of products at lower prices
  • make the UK more innovative, competitive and prosperous

The Department for International Trade is preparing for possible negotiations with the US after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019. The UK government is consulting with members of the public, businesses, trade experts, and any other interested organisations to help inform this work.

This agreed consultation will help to inform our overall approach to our future trade relationship and trade negotiations with the US.

An information pack for the Consultation relating to a bilateral Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States

Information Pack UK-US FTA consultation( pdf)

Jeremy Corbyn – Documents about US-UK trade talks

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In a press conference on 27 November 2019, Jeremy Corbyn has revealed unredacted documents about secret US-UK trade talks.

from the Labour Party website


Speaking at the press conference, he said:

If you watched the first TV debate between me and Boris Johnson, you’ll have seen me hold up these censored, blacked-out reports of secret US-UK talks about breaking open our NHS to US corporations and driving up the cost of medicines. You’ll have seen Boris Johnson lose his cool, very angrily react saying it was “an absolute invention” and “completely untrue.” He told the country there were “no circumstances whatsoever in which his government or any Conservative government” would put the NHS on the table in any trade negotiations.

What I have here is something I can reveal to you 451 pages of unredacted documents and information. All of it here. His government released this [holds up redacted version]. We have since obtained this [holds up unredacted version]. Which is a very different version of events.

Perhaps he’d like to explain why these documents confirm the US is demanding the NHS is on the table in the trade talks?

These uncensored documents leave Boris Johnson’s denials in absolute tatters. Voters need to ask themselves some very serious questions: is the NHS safe in Boris Johnson’s hands? We’ve now got evidence that under Boris Johnson the NHS is on the table and will be up for sale. He tried to cover it up in a secret agenda but today it’s been exposed. Now we know the truth, when Johnson says, ‘get Brexit done’, it’s a fraud on the British people. This is the reality. Years of bogged down negotiations and our NHS is up for sale.

This election is now a fight for the survival of our National Health Service. As a public service free for all at the point of need.

So for the want of any doubt, let me give this reassurance: Labour will never ever treat our NHS as a bargaining chip in trade talks with anybody. We will never let Donald Trump get his hands on our NHS. Because our NHS is not for sale.

These reports cover six rounds of talks running from July 2017 until just a few months ago. The meetings took place in both Washington DC and London. The six rounds should be taken as one ongoing negotiation. We are talking here about secret talks for a deal with Donald Trump after Brexit. A deal that will shape our country’s future.

These reports pull back the curtain on the secrecy that’s being plotted for us all, behind closed doors, by the Conservative government. This is what they didn’t want you to know. So let me take you through some key points.

Let me begin with medicine pricing. Remember, Labour and experts said big US corporations want to force up the price our NHS pays for drugs as part of the toxic deal being negotiated with Trump. The Conservatives said this was nonsense. The documents show that we were right. In fact, negotiations have advanced even further than we feared they had. The US and UK have already finished initial discussion on lengthening patents for medicines.

Longer patents mean only one thing – more expensive drugs. Lives will be put at risk as a result of this. Many out-of-patent medicines available cheaply here are vastly more expensive under patent law in the US. The drug Humira for Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis costs our NHS £1,409 a packet. In the US, the same packet costs £8,115. Get the difference – £1,409 in our NHS, £8,115 in the USA. One of the reasons for US drug prices being on average 250% of those here is a patent regime rigged for the big pharmaceutical companies.

Dr Andrew Hill has warned the NHS could have to hand over £500 million a week more for medicines following a toxic Trump deal.

If you look at the readout of the second meeting, on page 51, UK officials report that “patent issues” around “NHS access to generic drugs will be a key consideration” in talks. US officials have “pushed hard,” the reports says, for longer patents for US drug companies. You can also see on page 132 of the report of the fourth meeting, where drug patents are being discussed, that officials are ready to “exchange text” which is trade-negotiator-speak for it being at a very advanced stage. And they say they are ready to, I quote, “really take significant further steps.”

Let’s be frank, the US is not going to negotiate to sell its own medicines for less. President Trump himself never tires of complaining about what he calls the “unreasonably low prices” other countries pay for medicines. The White House even has a webpage attacking so-called “foreign freeloading” – that’s what they’re accusing our NHS of. Big pharma has ripped off and imperilled the health of the American people for years. Now these secret reports show they’re looking to do the same to us – if the Conservatives are elected on December 12th.

Labour has been warning that NHS services will also be on the table in trade talks for a sell-out deal with Trump. After all, that’s exactly what Trump said when he visited this country in June. He said and I quote: “When you’re dealing in trade, everything is on the table NHS or anything else.” The Tories have denied it, but the documents show that on this occasion, Trump was right and so were we. The new breed of trade deals are not only – or even mainly – about tariffs on goods at the border. They are also about services – including our health service. And these documents make clear that for the US, to quote page 41 of the third meeting report, “everything is included unless something is specifically excluded.”

They want, I quote: “Total market access” as the “baseline assumption of the trade negotiations.”

“Total market access.”

But surely you can’t believe that British officials would demand the NHS be excluded? Apparently not. In fact, on behalf of the Conservative government, officials reassured their counterparts that “the US should expect the UK to be a liberalising influence” and that together they could “fly the good flag for services liberalisation.” That’s a green light for breaking open Britain’s public services so corporations can profit from. So now we know, direct from the secret reports that they never wanted you to see.

The US is demanding that our NHS is on the table in negotiations for a toxic deal – it’s already being talked about in secret. That could lead to runaway privatisation of our health service. Mega-corporations see Johnson’s alliance with Trump as a chance to make billions from the illness and sickness of people in this country. And if the Conservatives have their way and this deal goes forward, the changes I’ve revealed will be almost irreversible.

Officials have discussed a system to give corporations the power to sue our country. This is not only a plot against our NHS. It is a plot against the whole country. These sell-out negotiations with Trump cover everything from food safety, to gender discrimination rules, to workers’ rights. I’ll leave it to you journalists as experts to comb through these secret reports and expose the biggest threats. But let me give you a few pointers.

How about chlorine-washed chicken on our dinner tables?

Have a look at the second meeting, on page 42 and 43, where the US even agrees to share its “public lines” to help our government with its “media narratives.”

You might want to look at how Trump’s America absolutely refuses, absolutely refuses, to even mention climate change in the deal – see the second meeting, page 17.

On page one of meeting six for the US advocating a No Deal Brexit saying that would mean there’d be “all to play for” in a deal with Trump.

What’s at stake in a deal with Trump could not be more important for our country. In this election the Conservatives want you to vote blind, keeping millions of us in the dark about their plans. But these reports, first obtained in censored form by campaigners in this room, shine a light on this plot.

So it seems to me that it’s now on Boris Johnson to explain how all of this is an “absolute invention.” you heard his words on the video we just showed. To explain why he denied the very things we can now read in black and white. He must now come clean about the Conservatives’ sell-out plans are for our NHS. Labour will not let this rest because, unlike the Conservatives, we’re not on the side of the billionaires and the bankers. We’re on the side of the nurse, the doctor, the patient and the people and we will never sell out our National Health Service. I’ll now ask our colleagues, friends from the National Health Service are here today to help us and they will pass around some copies of these documents and then Barry and I will take questions from you.

This topic was first mentioned in a documentary on TV by the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, which asserted that the price the NHS pays for US medicines could rise steeply in any future trade deal with the United States

Election 2019 – Manifestos

A manifesto is a publication issued by a political party before a General Election. They are assumed to be an accurate guide as to what voters can expect to happen if that party wins a majority of MPs. They outline a set of policies that the party stands for and intend to implement if they were to win the election. They also contain multiple (populist) promises in an attempt to win favour from the electorate.

However, manifestos must be taken with a pinch of salt! They are not legally binding in any way and parties are free to change their minds (ignoring promises made in the manifesto) once they are in office. For example, look at the history of Student Tuition fees – ALL parties are guilty of broken promises!!

In addition, although a candidate may be a representative of one of the political parties when standing for election, there is nothing to stop them rejecting commitments made in the manifesto and even leave the party, or join another party after they are elected. There are multiple examples of this happening over the years most recently during the 2017-2019 Parliament.

For these reasons, it may be best to consider the manifesto as a list of ideas for what might happen in the future but certainly with no guarantees. They should, perhaps, come with a warning “Beware of Politicians bearing false gifts

Each manifesto could also be considered as a contender for the next “Booker Prize for Fiction”.

Also be aware that voters are not actually voting for a political party, as noted in the Government response to petition 242193.

…. Formally, electors cast their vote for individual candidates, and not the political party they represent, although it is recognised that many people vote on the basis of party preference. It is generally agreed that a candidate, if elected to the House of Commons, is not deemed to be a delegate of a particular party, and will hold the office to which they have been elected in a personal capacity.

and confirmed by the Electoral Commission

… it’s correct that when people cast their vote at an election, they are electing an individual candidate.

So are Manifestos actually worth anything at all ?

This post will be updated as each manifesto becomes available, Last Update: 05 December 2019

Green Party

The Green Party have released their 92 page manifesto.

If you want to read it, you can find it at

Green Party manifesto

and a copy is available locally at

Green Party Manifesto 2019 (copy pdf)

Liberal Democrats Party

The Liberal Democrats Party have released their 100 page manifesto.

If you want to read it, you can find it at

Liberal Democrats Party manifesto

and a copy is available locally at

Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2019 (copy pdf)

Labour Party

The Labour Party have released their 107 page manifesto.

If you want to read it, you can find it at

Labour Party manifesto

A copy is available locally at

Labour Party Manifesto 2019 (copy pdf)

and other documents provided alongside the manifesto

Funding Real Change (44 page pdf)

Review of Corporate Tax Relief (13 page pdf)

Youth Manifesto 2019 (pdf)

Arts Manifesto 2019 (pdf)

Race and Faith Manifesto 2019 (pdf)

Brexit Party

The Brexit Party have released their equivalent to a manifesto, “Contract with the People” consisting of 25 pages.

If you want to read it, you can find it at

Contract with the People

and a copy is available locally at

Contract with the People (copy pdf)

Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru, the Party of Wales, have released their 88 page manifesto.

If you want to read it, you can find it at

Plaid Cymru Manifesto

and a copy is available locally at

Plaid Cymru Manifesto (copy pdf)

Conservative Party

The Conservative Party have released their 64 page manifesto.

If you want to read it, you can find it at

Conservative Party manifesto

and a copy is available locally at

Conservative Party Manifesto (copy pdf)

Other documents provided alongside the manifesto:

Conservative Manifesto Costings 2019 (10 page pdf)

Conservative Manifesto for Scotland

Conservative Manifesto for Scotland (48 page pdf)

Scottish National Party (SNP)

The SNP have released their 52 page manifesto.

If you want to read it, you can find it at

SNP manifesto

and a copy is available locally at

SNP Manifesto (copy pdf)

Northern Ireland – Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

The DUP have released their 28 page manifesto.

If you want to read it, you can find it at

DUP manifesto

and a copy is available locally at

DUP Manifesto (copy pdf)

Northern Ireland – Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP)

The SDLP have released their 29 page manifesto.

If you want to read it, you can find it at

SDLP Manifesto/

and a copy is available locally at

SDLP Manifesto (copy pdf)

Northern Ireland – Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI)

The APNI have released their 44 page manifesto.

If you want to read it, you can find it at

Alliance Party Manifesto

and a copy is available locally at

Alliance Party Manifesto 2019 (copy pdf)

Northern Ireland – Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin have released their manifesto.

If you want to read it, you can find it at

Sinn Féin Manifesto

and a copy is available locally at

Sinn Féin Manifesto 2019 (copy pdf)

Northern Ireland – The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)

The Ulster Unionist Party have released their 20 page manifesto.

If you want to read it, you can find it at

Ulster Unionist Party Manifesto

and a copy is available locally at

Ulster Unionist Party Manifesto 2019 (copy pdf)

Election 2019 – Student Tuition Fees

Student tuition fees are a favourite for Politicians when it comes to General Elections and are used to attract student votes however, it is not always as it seems …

Fees are set by the current Government; England and Wales, have the second highest University tuition fees in the developed world. Within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) group of nations, only the US has higher fees.

In England and Wales, universities can charge up to £9250 per year for an undergraduate degree and most universities charge the full amount. Scotland has no fees, for Scottish students.

Where do political parties stand on student tuition fees ? It usually depends on whether the party is interested in attracting the student vote, or does it depend on which way the wind’s blowing?

The Labour party actually implemented tuition fees in the first place and here is the history of tuition fees from the beginning in 1997.

  • 1997 – Pre election, Labour policy is no tuition fees
  • 1997 – Labour win the election and … introduce tuition fees in 1998
  • 2001 – Pre election, Labour promises not to raise tuition fees
  • 2001 – Labour won
  • 2003 – Plans announced to increase fees to £3000
  • 2005 – Labour won General Election
  • 2006 – Fees increased to £3000
  • 2009 – Fees increased to 3290
  • 2010 – Pre election, Lib Dems – pledge to abolish tuition fees
  • 2010 – Tories and Lib Dems form coalition government
  • 2010 – Lib Dems abandon policy and support proposal to increase fees to £9000
  • 2015 – Tories win General Election and change repayment terms of student loans
  • 2016 – Tories raise fees to £9250
  • 2017 – Pre Election, Labour policy is to scrap fees altogether
  • 2017 – Tory party win General Election
  • 2017 – Tory party freeze fees at £9250 and tinker with repayment terms
  • and currently

  • 2019 – Pre election, Tory proposal to reduce fees to £7500 abandoned
  • 2019 – Pre election, Labour policy to scrap tuition fees and restore maintenance grants for disadvantaged students
  • 2019 – Pre election, Liberal Democrats :”The idea that we can have zero tuition fees is a fantasy.”
  • The moral of this story is

    Beware of Politicians bearing gifts‘ it may not be all that it seems !!