How Britain voted: Charts and maps

The U.K. Labour party is celebrating a landslide victory.

Keir Starmer’s party has 411 seats, excluding the speaker’s, and a large majority in the House of Commons. His tally includes a number of “red wall” constituencies the party lost to the Conservatives in the previous election in 2019, and seats the Scottish National Party had dominated for nearly a decade.

But a closer look at the numbers suggests Labour strategists should not rest on their laurels.

Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party won five seats, but placed second in more than 100 other constituencies. By vote share, it is now the U.K.’s third-largest party.

Those same vote shares paint a far weaker picture for Labour than its seat number would suggest. The party recorded a 200-seat jump — but its vote share advanced by only an inch.

UK legislative election results

365 seats
CON

203 seats
LAB

48 seats
SNP

LD

DUP

SF

PC

SDLP

APNI

GREEN


Conservative Party

Labour Party

Scottish National Party

Liberal Democrats

Democratic Unionist Party

Sinn Féin

Plaid Cymru

Social Democratic and Labour Party

Alliance Party of Northern Ireland

Green Party

650 / 650 seats assigned
Turnout: 67.3%

412 seats
LAB

121 seats
CON

72 seats
LD

SNP

SF

IND

DUP

RE

GREEN

PC

SDLP

APNI

OTHER

UUP


Labour Party

Conservative Party

Liberal Democrats

Scottish National Party

Sinn Féin

Independent

Democratic Unionist Party

Reform UK

Green Party

Plaid Cymru

Social Democratic and Labour Party

Alliance Party of Northern Ireland

Other parties

Ulster Unionist Party

650 / 650 seats assigned

The Conservatives lost 250 seats, as their vote share plummeted from more than 40 percent in 2019 to below 25 percent now.

But both Labour and the Liberal Democrats recorded major seat gains despite barely making any advance at all in their vote shares.

The U.K.’s first-past-the-post election system means Labour will occupy about 60 percent of the House of Commons, with less than 35 percent of the votes. That vote share is less than former leader Jeremy Corbyn achieved in 2017, when he lost to Theresa May’s Conservatives.

Meanwhile, Nigel Farage’s Reform UK won five seats — but collected more than 14 percent of the vote, making it the third-largest party by vote share, ahead of the Liberal Democrats.

Labour’s anticipated win, while an extraordinary turnaround for a party that didn’t look electable just a few years ago, doesn’t appear to have enthused voters.

With turnout estimated at 60 percent, no election in the past 20 years drew fewer voters to the ballot box.

`Still, Labour made huge strides in the U.K.’s embattled swing seats.

Those constituencies were held by the Conservatives until 1997, before flipping to Labour and then back to the Tories from 2010.

Most of them have now swung behind Labour once more.

Labour’s loss in 2019 was punctuated by the crumbling of the “red wall,” as strongholds stretching from the Midlands to the north of England voted in a Conservative MP, many for the first time.

But that Tory control in these seats proved short-lived…

The Conservatives have had a terrible 2024 election, but so has the Scottish National Party.

The SNP has had a firm grip on power in Scotland since 2015, when it won nearly every Scottish seat — most of which had been occupied by Labour before.

But Thursday’s vote put an end to its winning streak. The party have lost around 80 percent of the seats total they held in 2019, with most going to Labour.

This election has radically changed the UK’s electoral map: a sea of red reminiscent of 1997 has the Conservative party reeling; a few dots of bright light blue and a significant vote share mark Reform UK’s entrance to mainstream UK politics, and the Lib Dems can enjoy a return from relative obscurity with more than 70 MPs, its highest number ever. Meanwhile, the shockingly poor performance of the SNP marks the end of an era north of the border.

*These figures have been updated following the last contituency’s declaration

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Engagement and Momentum, IBBC’s 15th Anniversary Conference Report | Iraq Business News

From the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC):

The IBBC 15th Anniversary Mansion House conference presented a range of engaging ministerial and business attendees. As Iraq’s economy is expanding and diversifying, the delegates reflected this in the range of topics and debates. Baroness Nicholson and Christophe Michels welcomed everyone at this milestone time and thanked all founders and members who supported IBBC over the years and both were pleased to announce IBBC is now its strongest, most influential and confident with much optimism for the future.

Iraq’s top companies and minsters were freely available to discuss business with delegates, until the end of the day, including CEO’s of BP, TotalEnergies, Basrah Gas Company, Mitsubishi, EY, SC, Wood, Sardar Group, the Central Bank of Iraq, Trade Bank of Iraq, CJ ICM, UB Holdings, Martrade, Vitol and Government advisors and Ministers, including: H.E. Dr Abdulkareem Al-Faisal (Chair of PM’s advisory commission), Dr Luay Al Khateeb (Former Minister of Electricity), Professor Hamid Khalaf (PM’s Advisor on Education), Dr Fareed Yasseen (Climate Envoy), Mr Ezzeldin Sajid Yousif (CBI), and officials from the KRG Ministry of Agriculture. The British Home office and foreign office DBT officials also on hand as observers and engagers.

Central to discussions was H.E Hayan Abdul Ghani Al-Sawad, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of oil, who outlined Iraq’s intent to end gas flaring by 2028, build three new refineries, become self-sufficient and diversify oil products, petroleum, and chemical manufacture for export and produce 5m barrels per day (and have already reduced imports from $5b to $1bn). He called for more private sector investment in oil production and gas capturing for energy production and fertilizers, while encouraging the expansion of solar power, carbon reduction and use of sea water in processes. You can see his speech here.

Chair of KRG Investment board Dr Mohammed Shukri speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Barzani said KRG is open to investment in various sectors including agriculture, renewables, construction materials, fertilisers, plastics, infotech and education.

Rupert Soames chair of the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) articulated that trade is a stimulus for growth and while supply chains and economies are becoming hard to navigate, there is hope that a new reset will happen with the new UK Gov. Equally, Iraq can prove it can be well regulated and a reliable investment partner. He said working together with IBBC, CBI and governments presents an opportunity for all.

Dr Amet Selman of AAA holdings, principal sponsor, recognised the high level of collaboration between the UK and Iraq in contributing to food and climate security and supporting Iraq in its fertiliser requirements. Jon Wilks, Senior IBBC Advisor, who witnessed the birth of IBBC in 2009, was pleased to see it flourish, and knows that members care about Iraq and engage in real projects. As a former ambassador, he knows how important to have partners like IBBC and that the UK will be the strongest partner for Iraq.

Lord Howell made a significant macro speech on the eve of the UK, French and USA elections. He condemned the trivia of political debate, and warned ‘the world is on fire’, the forces of darkness and dangerous undercurrents are trying to destabilise democracy, there is war, climate change and digital disruption at the doors of states, struggling to uphold public services, stark choices face countries. We must look to strategies of resilience, honesty, civilised debate, to develop trust and respect in our political system and even survival strategies and rule of law if we are to prevail. 85% of the world depends on fossil fuels and its not practical to just stop, so a pragmatic timeline for transition and investment is necessary. Civilised debate and democracy must prevail. You can see his speech here.

This year a significant number of packed roundtables saw large numbers of attendees, including Finance (Hogan Lovells), KRG, Education (Prof Hamid), Exchange rate report (Prof Gunter), and full platform panels including the new Climate Change and AgirTech, chaired by Mr. Richard Cotton, with Dr. Shamal Mohammed, Dr Fareed Yasseen and Sara Akbar of Oilserv. Energy Transition chaired by Dr Luay Al Khateeb, Centre on Global Energy Policy, Oilserv, TotalEnergies, Basra Gateway, Wood and Hydro C completed a most engaging and dynamic discussion. To add to the round table discussions, a high-profile finance panel chaired by Mr. Ardil Salem of Hogan Lovells and speakers Mr. Jamil Choucair of Standard Chartered, Bilal al Sugheyer, IFC,  Mr. Taiseer Jawad of TBI, and Prof. Frank Gunter. The panel discussions focused on the development of the banking system in Iraq and the fluctuating dollar exchange rate in addition to the new regulatory framework and the new technological advancement that the Iraqi banks are perusing to meet international standards.

Transport session chaired by Prof. Frank Gunter, featured also with Mr Tugrul Titanoglu, CJ-ICM; and Mr Steve Alexandar, Sardar Group focused on regulatory change to open transport markets and a rare but required focus on the aged vehicle population in Iraq and its consequential pollution – with ideas for change.

The Rasmi Al Jabri Award for business excellence was awarded to Ms Hadeel Hassan of HHP Law in the presence of Rasmi Al Jabri’s grandsons. This prestigious annual business award recognises business excellence in Iraq and is now in its 4th year. The Previous winners are Al Burhan Group, Sardar Group and AAA.

Newcastle University exhibited the fascinating new online Gertrude Bell archive and the Heritage Session, chaired by Prof. Mohammed Al Uzri, saw top archaeologists John McGinnis and Prof Mark Horton of RAU, talk of the latest Nimrod palace discoveries and questioned why Iraq is not as well-known as Egypt in the media – an opportunity waiting to happen.

The previous day, IBBCs Tech Forum hosted top Microsoft Cyber expert Karl Niblock, who spoke about AI and its threats and opportunities, and Entrepreneurs Nadine Benchaff (AgriTech) and Omar Al Hasan (Iraq tech ventures and the station) spoke about barriers and opportunities to tech growth in Iraq. View discussion here.

The forum was followed by an evening reception at the Mansion House to celebrate the 15th anniversary of IBBC. IBBC Vice President Lord Green addressed a large audience alongside Baroness Nicholson and the evening’s Sponsor Sardar Group.

IBBC is grateful to all of its members for their support throughout the years and would like to tank AAA, CJ ICM, Hydro-C, TBI and Sardar Group for sponsoring this exceptionally rich and intense 15th anniversary event. We are were also grateful for the support and encouragement given by the Iraqi Embassy in London, the British Embassy in Baghdad and UK Visa and Immigration.

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The dirty little secret no politician will admit: There is no way to ‘go for growth’

Investment professionals and politicians who spurned Liz Truss’s “go for growth” strategy for the British economy are slowly waking up to an uncomfortable truth.

The former U.K. Prime Minister’s plan, which relied on unfunded tax cuts that were perceived to be inflationary, may have been the only growth plan for Europe’s economies to escape over-indebtedness and low productivity without having to turn to austerity or greater state control of the economy. Not that any of them are prepared to admit it.

Britain’s Institute of Fiscal Studies on Monday described parties’ reluctance to admit as much on Monday as “a conspiracy of silence” arguing Labour’s pledge to rule out tax hikes was a “mistake.” “We wish Labour had not made those tax locks and it will be difficult [politically] to break,” IFS director Paul Johnson said about the party currently leading the polls.

But it’s not just British politicians who are refusing to face up to reality. In France, where an impending snap parliamentary election threatens to empower extremists on both sides of the political spectrum — to the cost of President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Renaissance party — there is a similar reluctance to admit there are only bad options on the table.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire highlighted last week, after French bonds began to wobble, that anything short of centrism risks placing France under the supervision of Brussels and the International Monetary Fund.

What he failed to point out is that even supposedly sensible centrists face having to do the unthinkable in the longer run.

“They have to go to financial repression because high growth as a strategy out of over-indebtedness is not going to be funded by the bond market,” Russell Napier, an influential investment advisor who authors the Solid Ground newsletter, told POLITICO. “I think it doesn’t matter who you vote for, you end up with roughly the same thing. So the market’s not maybe saying ‘we’re very sanguine about Labour [in the U.K.].’ They’re just saying: ‘It doesn’t really matter who you vote for. We are heading toward this route.’”

Incoming financial repression

That route, in Napier’s opinion, means it’s time for financial repression: putting a lid on the free movement of capital and having the government and other technocratic institutions increasingly determine which sectors benefit from public sector funding, and even more critically, from private sector funding too.

The pathway takes Europe much closer to the dirigiste policies that dominated the continent in the post-war period and away from the market-based liberalism that investors have become used to over the past four decades.

Truss’s risky tax cuts had hoped to avoid a push towards state-guided credit rationing by unleashing the power of the private sector and the financial industry to stimulate such a high rate of growth that the accompanying inflation just wouldn’t matter — especially if the Bank of England’s interest rate policy acted in support.

But the dilemma facing France, one of the EU’s largest economies, encapsulates three further political complexities: Paris does not control its own monetary policy, its public sector spending capacity is restricted by fiscal rules created in Brussels — which it is now officially in breach of — and any move to direct private sector financing domestically could clash with the bloc’s greater efforts to create a single capital markets and banking union.

That doesn’t leave much wiggle room for any incoming French government to experiment with a “dash for growth”, either of the free-market Truss variety, or — which is more relevant for France — the free-spending government interventionist one.

Politicization of the ECB

For Macron, the stakes are abundantly clear. In a speech to the Sorbonne University in April, he said: “We must be clear on the fact that our Europe, today, is mortal. It can die. It can die, and that depends entirely on our choices. But these choices must be made now.”

But in the same speech he, too, advocated a wholesale reordering of Europe’s economic framework largely because he — like the populists on either side of him — can’t afford everything he wants.

The current economic model, he said, is no longer sustainable “because we legitimately want to have everything, but it doesn’t hold together.”

Like all of the French presidents of the last 25 years, Macron has faced this constraint on domestic policymaking by trying to co-opt the one institution that has no formal constraints on creating money out of thin air — the European Central Bank. In his Sorbonne speech, he stressed that “you cannot have a monetary policy whose sole objective is to address inflation.”

The ECB’s mandate can only be updated by changing the whole EU treaty, something for which Europe’s leaders have no appetite. But even within its current legal straitjacket, the ECB has found plenty of ways to support national governments when it can, with a sequence of tools and programs that have allowed it to buy their bonds and keep their borrowing costs below where they would naturally have been.

It’s the newest of these tools that is likely to play a key role in the next few weeks. The ECB has stopped net purchases of bonds as part of its broader policy to bring inflation down, but it has one tool — so far untested — that it can use to alleviate any market stress after the elections: the so-called Transmission Protection Instrument.

The TPI allows the ECB to buy the bonds of individual governments whose borrowing costs it considers out of step with macroeconomic fundamentals. The idea is to ensure that its single monetary policy applies reasonably equally across the whole euro area. But it creates substantial scope for the ECB to exercise financial repression on behalf of those it considers aligned with its own mission.

It implies that the ECB knows better than markets what the value of a government promise to pay is. And in not setting any ex ante limits to the scale of its interventions, it has bestowed upon itself enormous power to take on the markets if it disagrees with them strongly enough.

It’s this power that Macron may want to harness if he is still able to present a budget he can call his own after July. But by the same token, he will want to ensure that the ECB denies that support to his opponents if they emerge victorious, just as it did to Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi and Greece’s Alexis Tsipras a decade ago.

According to Napier, whether the ECB ultimately decides to use the TPI or not, the decision will have political implications, not least because it will change the parameters of what the central bank is really prepared to do save the euro, and on whose behalf.

“If you think Macron is an ally of the [European] project, then you don’t use it until after there’s some type of chaos,” Napier said.

Many things could still change between now and July 7. The far right National Rally’s Jordan Bardella, for example, has already walked back some of the party’s spendiest plans, aiming to reassure markets that conflict with the EU over its fiscal rules can be avoided.

But in an interview with the FT published on Thursday, Bardella upset the bond markets again by saying he’d campaign for a big rebate from the EU budget, only hours after his ally and mentor Marine Le Pen signaled that a National Rally government would try to wrest away Macron’s powers as commander-in-chief.

In other words, the threat of major market instability in July remains alive and well. And, as Napier put it: “If bond yields blow up in France they can blow up anywhere.”

(Additional reporting by Geoffrey Smith)

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Just how extreme is Nigel Farage’s Reform UK?

A string of embarrassments involving under-vetted candidates has raised red flags about an insurgent force in the UK election, led by Brexit activist and former MEP Nigel Farage.

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With just two weeks to go until a snap general election, Britain’s ruling Conservative Party looks set to face what could be its biggest defeat in more than a century.

While the Labour Party is expected to win a landslide victory, much of the credit for the Conservatives’ downfall will be due to an insurgent party to their right.

According to the polls, the anti-immigration, anti-”woke” and culturally traditionalist party Reform UK, led by leading Brexit activist and former MEP Nigel Farage, is set to take as much as 15% or more of the national vote. One poll that showed it leading the Tories by a single point received wall-to-wall coverage, though the lead was within the margin of error.

Farage himself is now running to become an MP for the seat of Clacton, an area that has received national attention mainly for its voters’ intensely pro-Brexit views and its atmosphere of economic depression.

It will be Farage’s eighth attempt to get into parliament, and for the first time, he is widely expected to win.

So who are the voters he is trying to win over?

Reform’s pitch appears squarely aimed at a stereotypical older right-wing voter — but according to Paula Surridge, Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Bristol, the slice of the electorate currently backing the party straddles the left-right divide more than many commentators acknowledge. 

“The voters Reform have been winning from the Conservatives are most distinctive in terms of having immigration as their core concern,” she told Euronews. “They are particularly hardline on illegal immigration and the ‘small boats’.”

“In terms of values they are a little more socially conservative than those who have been staying loyal to the Conservatives, but notably more economically left-leaning — something a little out of tune with the party rhetoric and manifesto.”

That manifesto, branded by Reform as a “Contract with You”, is heavily focused on trying to cut taxes and turbo-charge economic growth.

It contains various measures that appear designed to appeal to wealthier voters, among them an extravagant commitment to lift the inheritance tax threshold so that estates worth less than £2 million (€2.36m) are exempted.

The fiscal element of the so-called contract was shredded in an analysis by the independent Institute of Fiscal Studies, which concluded that “even with the extremely optimistic assumptions about how much economic growth would increase, the sums in this manifesto do not add up.”

‘Reclaiming Britain’: All-out culture war assault

But if these plans sit at odds with many potential Reform voters’ economic views, the manifesto’s other policies are a laundry list of the hardline right’s favourite topics.

Aside from a strident plan to freeze non-essential immigration and impose a punitive levy on businesses that employ “foreign workers”, the contract also pushes for the end of what it calls “woke policing” and a philosophical cleanup of British education.

It would force schools to “ban transgender ideology” while enforcing a “patriotic” model of education, declaring that “any teaching about a period or example of British or European imperialism or slavery must be paired with the teaching of a non-European occurrence of the same to ensure balance.”

The national identity theme even gets its own full page, titled “Reclaiming Britain”, a section that nods towards post-COVID-19 paranoia about the World Health Organization, the World Economic Forum, and the declining use of cash currency.

Alongside proposing two new national holidays to celebrate Welsh and English identity, the manifesto declares it would launch an all-out culture war assault.

“Legislate to stop left-wing bias and politically correct ideology that threatens personal freedom and democracy,” it reads. “No more de-banking, cancel culture, left wing hate mobs or political bias in public institutions. Stop Sharia law being used in the UK.” (Sharia law is not used in the British legal system.)

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This, then, is what the party says it wants. But just as telling are the people it has chosen to represent it.

Into the fray, beyond the fringe

Many of Reform UK’s 600-plus candidates were selected in a rush when the snap election was called by Rishi Sunak. This left the party with little time to vet them for problematic past statements, and the results have not been good.

One candidate, Ian Gribbin, was forced to apologise after the resurfacing of old posts on a right-wing news site in which he wrote that it would have been “far better” for the UK to have stayed out of World War II.

“Britain would be in a far better state today had we taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality … but oh no, Britain’s warped mindset values weird notions of international morality rather than looking after its own people,” one of the posts read.

He also referred to women as the “sponging gender” and suggested they should be deprived of medical care until the life expectancy gap between the sexes could be closed. He remains Reform UK’s candidate for the seat of Bexhill and Battle.

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Another candidate, Jack Aaron, has had to defend comments in which he described Hitler as a “brilliant” man according to “Socionics”, a fringe pseudoscientific theory of personality types. Again, he remains a candidate.

One Reform candidate who has actually stood down is Grant StClair-Armstrong, who, it was revealed, had previously urged readers to vote for the openly racist British National Party.

Apologising for his comments, which Reform itself condemned as “unacceptable”, StClair-Amstrong was insistent that: “I am not a racist in any shape or form, outspoken maybe. I have many Muslim friends, three of whom refer to me as Daddy.” Politico reported that he did not appear to be discussing his children.

Farage and his de facto co-leader, Richard Tice, have blamed these incidents on the supposed failures of a third-party vetting contractor, against whom they say they are considering legal action. However, it has transpired that the party, in fact, used Vetting.com, which is not a vetting agency but an automated paid-for platform to which users can upload information themselves.

Nonetheless, Farage has suggested an establishment “stitch-up” may be to blame.

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But aside from the plethora of candidates that Reform insists it did not have time to vet properly, there is the matter of what Farage himself has said since the campaign began. 

When Prime Minister Rishi Sunak left a D-Day commemoration ceremony early, shocking his allies and outraging much of the nation, Farage used an interview to complain that the UK’s first premier of Asian descent “doesn’t understand our history and our culture”.

Called out for his remarks on air by a BBC interviewer, Farage insisted his point was that Sunak is “utterly disconnected by class, by privilege, from how the ordinary folk in this country feel”.

Farage as the wrecking ball (again)

The extent to which all of this matters depends largely on the result Reform get on 4 July — and on what Farage does next. 

According to the polls, Reform is set to take as much as 15% or more of the national vote. One poll that showed it leading the Tories by a single point received wall-to-wall coverage, but the lead was within the survey’s margin of error.

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Yet this polling surge may not directly translate into any meaningful number of seats.

Under the UK’s first-past-the-post electoral system, a party’s national share of the vote is essentially irrelevant. Instead, each seat is represented by the candidate who wins the most votes within the constituency, however small their share might be.

This does not seem to bother Farage, who originally claimed he was not planning to run at all. His entrance into the fray has boosted his party, and he is increasingly open about his goal of destroying the Conservative Party in its current form.

Depending on how reduced that party is in size after 4 July and who leads it into its years out of power, he may yet be admitted to its ranks himself.

And if he makes it through to a leadership contest, the grassroots party members who make the final decision might well give him a chance to run the show.

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Euronews contacted Reform UK for comment, but the party did not respond at the time of publication.



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Over-reliance on gas delays G7 transition to net-zero power

Three years ago, G7, a group of major industrialized countries that includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, committed to decarbonizing their power systems by 2035. It was a historic and hopeful moment, in which the group demonstrated global leadership, and made a first step toward what needs to become an OECD-wide commitment, according to the recommendation made by the International Energy Agency in its 2050 Net Zero Emission Scenario, setting the world on a pathway to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.

As we approach the 2024 G7 summit, the ability of G7 countries to deliver on their power systems decarbonization commitment, not least to address the still-lingering fossil fuel price and cost-of-living crisis, but also to retain their global energy transition leadership, is put under scrutiny. So far, the G7 countries’ actual progress toward this critical goal is a mixed picture of good, bad, and ugly, as new analysis shows.

via G7 Power Systems Scorecard, May 2024, E3G

Most G7 countries are making steps on policy and regulatory adjustments that will facilitate a managed transition.

Grid modernization and deployment is, for example, finally starting to receive the attention it deserves. Some countries, such as the U.S., are also starting to address the issue of long-duration energy storage, which is crucial for a renewables-based power sector.

Coal is firmly on its way out in all G7 countries, except Japan, which is lagging behind its peers. This is where the challenges begin, as things like Japan’s unhealthy relationship with coal risk undermining credibility of the whole group as world leaders on energy transition.

Despite these efforts, all G7 countries are delaying critical decisions to implement transition pathways delivering a resilient, affordable and secure fossil-free power system where renewables – mostly wind and solar – play the dominant role. A tracker by campaign groups shows that other European countries have already engaged firmly in that direction.

Progress made so far is neither uniform, nor sufficient.

Further gaps vary by country, but overall, more action is needed on energy efficiency, non-thermal flexibility solutions, and restructuring power markets to facilitate higher renewable electricity and storage uptake. The EU’s recently adopted power market reform provides a solid framework for changes in this direction, at least for the EU-based G7 countries, but it remains to be seen how the EU’s new rules are going to be implemented on the national level.

Overall: Progress made so far is neither uniform, nor sufficient. For one, translation of the G7-wide target into a legislated national commitment is lacking in most G7 countries, in Europe and beyond. Moreover, the chance of G7 countries reaching their 2035 target is at risk, along with their global image as leaders on the energy transition, due to the lack of a clear, time-bound and economically-sound national power sector decarbonization roadmaps. Whether 100 percent or overwhelmingly renewables-based by 2035, today’s power systems will need to undergo an unprecedented structural change to get there.

For this change to take off, clear vision on how to decarbonize the ‘last mile’ while providing for a secure, affordable and reliable clean electricity supply, is crucial. Regrettably, today’s G7 long-term vision is betting on one thing: Gas-fired back-up generation. While there are nascent attempts to address the development of long-term storage, grids, flexibility and other balancing solutions, the key focus in most G7 countries is on planning for a massive increase in gas capacity.

Whether 100 percent or overwhelmingly renewables-based by 2035, today’s power systems will need to undergo an unprecedented structural change to get there.

All G7 countries but France have new gas power plants in planning or construction, with the growth shares the biggest in three European countries: Italy’s planning to boost its gas power fleet by 12 percent, the U.K. by 23.5 percent, and Germany by a whopping 28 percent. The US, which consumes one quarter of global gas-in-power demand, has the largest project pipeline in absolute terms – 37.8GW, the fourth largest pipeline in the world.

This gas infrastructure build-out contradicts the real-economy trend: In all European G7 countries gas demand has been dropping at least since the 2021-2022 energy crisis, driven particularly by the power sector decarbonization. Japan’s gas demand peaked in 2007, and Canada’s in 1996 (see IEA gas consumption data). Even G7 governments’ own future energy demand projections show further drop in gas demand by 2030, by one-fifth to one-third of today’s levels in all European G7 countries and Japan, and at least by 6-10 percent in Canada and the U.S.

Maria Pastukhova | Programme Lead – Global Energy Transition, E3G

Most G7 countries argue that this new gas power fleet will be used at a much lower capacity factor as a back-up generation source to balance variable renewables. Some, for example Germany, incentivize new gas power capacity build-out under the label of ‘hydrogen readiness’, assuming that these facilities will run on low-carbon hydrogen starting in 2035. Others, for example Japan or the U.S., are betting on abating gas power generation with carbon capture and storage technologies in the long-term.

Keeping gas power infrastructure in an increasingly renewables-based, decentralized power system using technology that may or may not work in time is a very risky gamble to take given the time left.

G7 countries have got no more than a decade left to act on their commitment to reach net-zero emissions power systems. We have readily-available solutions to deliver the major bulk of the progress needed: Grids, renewables, battery, and other short and mid-duration storage, as well as efficiency improvements. These technologies need to be drastically scaled now, along with additional solutions we will need by 2035, such as long-duration energy storage, digitalization, and educating skilled workers to build and operate those new power systems.

While available and sustainable, these solutions must be deployed now to deliver in time for 2035. Going forward, G7 can’t afford to lose any more time focusing on gas-in-power, which is on the way out anyway and won’t bring the needed structural transformation of the power system.



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Analysis: In the age of AI, keep calm and vote on

This article is part of a series, Bots and ballots: How artificial intelligence is reshaping elections worldwide, presented by Luminate.

When I started this series on artificial intelligence, disinformation and global elections, I had a pretty clear picture in mind.

It came down to this: While AI had garnered people’s imagination — and the likes of deepfakes and other AI-generated falsehoods were starting to bubble to the surface — the technology did not yet represent a step change in how politically motivated lies, often spread via social media, would alter the mega-election cycle engulfing the world in 2024.

Now, after nine stories and reporting trips from Chișinău to Seattle, I haven’t seen anything that would alter that initial view. But things, as always, are more complicated — and more volatile — than I first believed.

What’s clear, based on more than 100  interviews with policymakers, government officials, tech executives and civil society groups, is that the technology — specifically, generative AI — is getting more advanced by the day.

During the course of my reporting, I was shown deepfake videos, purportedly portraying global leaders like U.S. President Joe Biden and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, that were indistinguishable from the real thing. They included politicians allegedly speaking in multiple languages and saying things that, if true, would have ended their careers.

They were so lifelike that it would take a lot to convince anyone without deep technical expertise that an algorithm had created them.

Despite being a tech reporter, I’m not a fanboy of technology. But the speed of AI advancements, and their ease of use by those with little, if any, computer science background, should give us all pause for concern.

The second key theme that surprised me from this series was how much oversight had been outsourced to companies — many of which were the same firms that created the AI systems that could be used for harm.

More than 25 tech giants have now signed up to the so-called AI Election Accords, voluntary commitments from companies including Microsoft, ByteDance and Alphabet to do what they can to protect global elections from the threat posed by AI.

Given the track record of many of these firms in protecting users from existing harms, including harassment and bullying on social media, it’s a massive leap of faith to rely on them to safeguard election integrity.

That’s despite the legitimate goodwill I perceived from multiple interviews with corporate executives within these firms to reduce politically motivated harm as much as possible.

The problem, as of mid-2024, is that governments, regulators and other branches of the state are just not prepared for the potential threat — and it does remain potential — tied to AI.

Much of the technical expertise resides deep within companies. Legislative efforts, including the European Union’s recently passed Artificial Intelligence Act, are, at best, works in progress. The near total lack of oversight of how social media platforms’ AI-powered algorithms operate makes it impossible to rely on anyone other than tech giants themselves to police how these systems determine what people see online.

With AI advancing faster than you can say “large language model” and governments struggling to keep up, why am I still cautious about heralding this as the year of AI-fueled disinformation, just as billions of people head to the polls in 2024?

For now, I have a potentially naive belief that people are smarter than many of us think they are.

As easy as it is to think that one well-placed AI deepfake on social media may change the minds of unsuspecting voters, that’s not how people make their political choices. Entrenched views on specific lawmakers or parties make it difficult to shift people’s opinions. The fact that AI-fueled forgeries must be viewed in a wider context — alongside other social media posts, discussions with family members and interactions with legacy media — also hamstring the ability for such lies to break through.

Where I believe we’re heading, though, is a “post-post-truth” era, where people will think everything, and I mean everything, is made up, especially online. Think “fake news,” but turned up to 11, where not even the most seemingly authentic content can be presumed to be 100 percent true.

We’re already seeing examples of politicians claiming that damaging social media posts are deepfakes when, in fact, they are legitimate. With the hysteria around AI often outpacing what the technology can currently do — despite daily advances — there’s now a widespread willingness to believe all content can be created via AI, even when it can’t. 

In such a world, it’s only rational to not have faith in anything.

The positive is that we’re not there yet. If the nine articles in this “Bots and Ballots” series show anything, it’s that, yes, AI-fueled disinformation is upon us. But no, it’s not an existential threat, and it must be viewed as part of a wider world of ‘old-school’ campaigning and, in some cases, foreign interference and cyberattacks. AI is an agnostic tool, to be wielded for good or ill.

Will that change in the years to come? Potentially. But for this year’s election cycle, your best bet is to remain vigilant, without getting caught up in the hype-train that artificial intelligence has become.

Mark Scott is POLITICO’s chief technology correspondent. He writes a weekly newsletter, Digital Bridge, about the global intersection of technology and politics. 

This article is part of a series, Bots and ballots: How artificial intelligence is reshaping elections worldwide, presented by Luminate. The article is produced with full editorial independence by POLITICO reporters and editors. Learn more about editorial content presented by outside advertisers.



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Who’s John Swinney, the SNP veteran set to run Scotland?

John Swinney is going for a second bite of the cherry — and he might just get it.

After a dramatic week in Scottish politics, the veteran former leader of the country’s ruling Scottish National Party confirmed Thursday he’s ready to run all over again.

His main potential challenger, Kate Forbes, is now rowing in him behind him — meaning he looks on course to become Scotland’s next first minister.

Announcing his bid for the SNP leadership at a press conference in Edinburgh, Swinney said: “I want to unite the SNP, and unite Scotland, for independence.” 

But that might be a whole lot harder than it sounds.

Here’s POLITICO’s snap guide to the man vying to enter Bute House as Scotland’s first minister.

Why’s Swinney running?

Swinney’s return to frontline politics comes just over a year after he stepped down from the second highest office north of the border — but what a year it’s been.

He’s vying to replace Humza Yousaf, who resigned after just 13 months in power following a botched conclusion to an SNP-Scottish Greens power sharing agreement. 

A veteran politician, Swinney can pitch himself as a safe pair of hands — and his biggest potential challenger has just ruled herself out.

He’s already swept up the endorsements of SNP big-hitters including its Westminster leader Stephen Flynn and Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Education Jenny Gilruth. 

And Kate Forbes — who made her own unsuccessful bid for the leadership last year — had been mulling another go, but on Thursday afternoon vowed to join with Swinney and press for a “reform agenda within the Scottish government.”

Amid talk of a deal, Swinney’s made clear he wants Forbes to play a “significant part” in his team.

Despite that show of unity, Swinney’s vying to take charge of a party deeply divided on … just about everything.

If he becomes SNP leader and first minister he’ll face the tricky task of leading a minority government or stitching back some kind of coalition. Westminster elections are just around the corner with the party trailing in the polls. Oh, and the SNP itself is subject to an ongoing police probe over its finances.

Speaking Thursday, Swinney accepted the SNP “is not as cohesive as it needs” to achieve its aim of breaking away from the United Kingdom.

“That has to change. I could have stood back and hoped others would sort things out — but I care too much about the future of Scotland,” he said.

Second time lucky? 

Swinney, who celebrated his 60th birthday earlier this month, is no stranger to the trials and tribulations of party leadership. 

He steered the SNP ship between the turn of the century and 2004. But his leadership was widely criticized. The party went backwards in the 2001 general election and shed eight seats in the 2003 elections to the Scottish parliament. 

Despite winning a leadership challenge later that year, poor European election results in 2004 and a perceived lack of charisma saw Swinney ousted by party apparatchiks – dubbed the “men in gray kilts.

He’s been around the block

The SNP hopeful has been immersed in politics for a while. He became the SNP’s national secretary at just 22 and served as then-leader Alex Salmond’s deputy between 1998 and 2000. 

Elected MP for Tayside North during the 1997 New Labour landslide, he entered the Westminster parliament for just one term, before making the leap to the Scottish Parlaiment in 1999. 

He’s served in some big roles since then. Swinney was secretary for finance when the SNP entered government in 2007, and served for the whole of Salmond’s tenure. 

That period covered the financial crash and Scotland’s bruising independence referendum — as well as a rapid ascent for the SNP in Scottish elections.  

He’s a Nicola Sturgeon loyalist — who didn’t want the top job last year

Swinney kept his job when Nicola Sturgeon succeeded Salmond, and got a grand promotion to Scottish deputy first minister. 

For five years he was education secretary during a tricky time which saw Scotland tumble down the rankings and two votes of no confidence over an exams controversy in 2020

When Sturgeon announced her sudden resignation last February, Swinney joined her, leaving government and the SNP frontbench after 16 years.

He spoke about helping to “create some space” for a “fresh perspective” on Scottish independence by departing frontline politics. 

Sturgeon heaped praise on his time in office, saying she could not have wished for a “better partner in government.” That quiet life out of the spotlight did not last long. 

He’s no Scottish independence hardliner

Swinney comes from the gradualist tradition in the SNP, working alongside Salmond in the ‘90s to reform the party into a less urgent position on its ultimate goal of breaking up the United Kingdom and letting Scotland go it alone.

This school of thought prefers a push for more devolved powers for Scotland from Westminster, rather than immediate independence — with the thinking being this eventually translates into the end goal.

It’s at odds with the SNP’s independence “fundamentalists” — and the row came to a head for Swinney the first time he ran for leader in 2000, beating his more hardline rival Alex Neil.

Decades on, Swinney made clear he still believes in a gradualist approach.

“I have believed all my adult life that Scotland’s future is best served as an independent country,” he said as he launched his leadership bid Thursday. “But I recognize that more people need to be convinced of that point before independence can be achieved.”

He added: “I want to focus my efforts on reaching out in Scotland, with respect and courtesy, to address the obstacles in the way of winning the case for independence.”



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The tumultuous history of Northern Ireland | Explained

The story so far: On February 3, pro-Irish unity politician Michelle O’Neill from the Sinn Fein party made history by becoming the first Nationalist First Minister of Northern Ireland, after the opposition Democratic Union Party (DUP), the largest pro-U.K. party, returned to government ending a two-year long political deadlock in Northern Ireland.

What led to the political deadlock?

Northern Ireland is governed by a power-sharing agreement known as consociationalism as laid down in the Good Friday Agreement (Belfast Agreement) of 1998. This system believes that power should be shared equally between the various sectarian groups in a state, in this case, between the pro-Irish unity faction, called the Nationalists or Republicans, and the pro-U.K. faction, the Loyalists or the Unionists. Sinn Fein is the largest Nationalist political party, while the DUP is of the latter. The party that wins the largest vote-share will hold the First Minister position while the party with the second largest vote share will keep the post of Deputy First Minister. Of these two posts, one must be a Unionist and the other a Nationalist. Both positions hold equal weight and one cannot exist without the other.

In the 2022 elections, Sinn Fein finished first with a 29% vote share, while the DUP secured the second position with a 21.3% vote share. However, a government was not formed as the DUP exited Stormont (Northern Ireland’s Parliament) because it objected to the new border controls between Britain and the Island of Ireland, which came in the aftermath of Brexit. When the U.K. exited the EU, Northern Ireland became the only province to share a land border with an EU country (Republic of Ireland). The U.K. and the EU then came up with the Northern Ireland Protocol, which stipulated that the trade border, where goods are checked for compliance, would be shifted to the Irish ports, essentially making it a sea border. However, this was rejected by the DUP, which held that this was against the Good Friday agreement which sanctioned free movement of goods and people across borders. In protest, they exited the government and the political deadlock set in.

The U.K. and the EU then drew up fresh rules, called the Windsor Framework, which stated that on arrival at the border of Northern Ireland, goods will be demarcated into two. The ones which were entering the region would go into the ‘green lane’ with no inspections while those entering the Republic of Ireland (EU territory) would go to the ‘red lane’ for compliance checks. After assurance from the U.K. of Northern Ireland’s place in its internal market, the DUP has agreed to return to government.

How did Northern Ireland come into being?

Northern Ireland was the site of a 30-year civil war (1968-1998) known as ‘The Troubles’ between the Republicans and the Unionists, which killed over 3,500 people. It also had a religious aspect to it with the Republicans being mostly Catholic and the Unionists being largely Protestants.

Northern Ireland was formerly part of the Ulster province, which lies to the north of modern-day Ireland. Conflict between the Protestants and the Irish Catholics goes all the way back to 1609, when King James I started an official policy of migration wherein people from England and Scotland were encouraged to move to Ulster to work in his various plantations there. The religious war that was being waged in much of Europe at the time, between the Protestants and the Catholics, made its presence felt in Ulster as well. However, a much stronger resistance was brewing. Ireland at the time was under the rule of England. The growing resistance against the colonial English rule, especially after the Potato Famine of 1845 where over 1 million Irish people died due to disease and starvation, cemented these sectarian and religious differences. Finally, in 1916, in the middle of the First World War, during Easter week, Ireland rose up in arms against colonial rule under the leadership of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). After a bloody war, it was able to gain independence from England with the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921.

However, Ireland was split into two territories. As there was a protestant majority in Ulster, out of the 32 counties in Ireland, six remained with the U.K, forming the region of Northern Ireland.

What led to the Good Friday agreement?

Peace did not come easy in Northern Ireland. The years that followed were rife with discrimination and instances of sectarian violence. The Irish Republicans being the minority were often victims of discrimination when it came to housing and public service jobs. Moreover, there have also been claims that elections were heavily skewed towards the Unionists due to gerrymandering practices. In the late 1960s, various protests against the Northern Ireland government descended into violence with the IRA and the Unionist paramilitary forces taking up arms.

A civil war had officially started and the British Army was deployed to maintain peace. The Army was often accused of colluding with the Unionists against the Republicans. Walls were built between communities to segregate them, curfews were implemented and dissidents were being arrested without trial. However, violence continued and in 1972, in an incident known as Bloody Sunday, the British Army shot and killed at least 13 unarmed civilians during a protest march in the Bogside area of Derry. In its aftermath, the war spread to the mainland of the U.K. and Ireland, with attacks and bombings orchestrated in London and Dublin.

In the backdrop of the ever-increasing tit-for-tat violence between the IRA and the Unionists, in the 1980s, IRA’s political wing Sinn Fein started taking a more active role in the political landscape of Northern Ireland. It contested elections and played a part in governance. Peace talks were also being negotiated with the U.S. acting as a mediator.

The 1990s brought about a significant shift in the war. The public was weary of violence and wanted peace. Both parties agreed to a ceasefire and peace talks were in full swing. While decommissioning of arms was heavily pushed by the U.K., both the IRA and the Unionists at the time refused to give up their arms entirely. Therefore, talks took the ‘twin approach’ wherein peace and decommissioning was to happen in parallel as a treaty was being reached.

Finally, on April 10, 1998, the Good Friday Agreement was signed in Belfast bringing to an end the 30-year-old civil war in Northern Ireland.

What is the Good Friday Agreement?

The Good Friday Agreement is a unique peace treaty in that it conceded to most of the demands from both sides of the conflict. The treaty had three main aspects — that the Northern Ireland government would be formed on the sovereign wishes of both Republicans and the Unionists and that they would share governance equally; that the people of Northern Ireland could seek reunification with Ireland any time subject to a referendum; and that the citizens of Northern Ireland can seek Irish or British nationality or both. It also abolished border checks and encouraged the freedom of movement of people across the U.K. and Ireland.

However, tensions of the conflict still linger in the region. The power sharing system has not been smooth. Stormont has fallen multiple times before the completion of a term. The Assembly was suspended in 2000, in 2001, from 2002-2007 when Unionists withdrew from the executive and from 2017-2020. In February 2022, the government again collapsed as Unionists withdrew over border controls between the U.K. and Northern Ireland.

What next?

The significance of a Nationalist First Minister cannot be understated. Ms. O’Neill said as much when she remarked that “we are in a decade of opportunity” indicating the possibility of a referendum on the reunification of the region with Ireland in the next 10 years.

However, in a paper released by the U.K. government, it said that it “sees no realistic prospect of a border poll leading to a united Ireland,” citing recent polling. In a similar vein, Irish premier Leo Varadkar, whose government in principle supports a united Ireland, also said the question of reunification was “not for today.”

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Trial without a lawyer: Cuts leave families without lawyers in UK

Going to trial without representation? That’s what more and more people in England and Wales are facing. Cuts implemented to government-funded legal aid have left many without a choice. Among the hardest hit areas is family law.

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“A week before the hearing date, I realised I was going to have to represent myself in court”, recalls Louisa, a grandmother who had to fight for her grandson’s custody.

Louisa had been looking after her grandson for two years, when social services informed her that she needed to lodge an application with the family courts if she wished to keep custody.

“From this point on, I had no idea what to do”, she states.

A legal aid crisis

Louisa knew she could not afford a lawyer – but as she would discover that meeting the criteria for government funded legal aid – was also not enough to obtain one.

The 2012 LASPO Act – implemented in 2013 – brought in drastic cuts to legal aid, especially for family law cases. To obtain legal aid in England and Wales, individuals must earn less than £2,657 a month (€3,039.20). Although this threshold may seem generous, bills for family lawyers quickly rack up to the thousands – or hundreds of thousands.

“Solicitors don’t have enough time to devote to these cases, even people who are eligible for help have very little chance of finding a solicitor,” explains Jenny Beck, co-founder of family law firm Beck & Fitzgerald.

The legal aid fee paid to lawyers is set by the government – and usually at a fixed hourly rate. This fee has not increased since 1996 when inflation is factored in – and legal aid fees were reduced by 10% in 2011.

“Many firms turn down cases, especially when they are complex – for instance if the client needs an interpreter, has mental health problems or if it’s complex law”, adds Jenny Beck. 

The barriers to accessing legal aid

Louisa contacted five firms but only one accepted to send an application to be reviewed by the Legal Aid Agency. 

Louisa received a response – her fees would be covered if she made a £3,000 (€3435) contribution. She refused this offer, explaining she could not afford the fee. A second proposal then came through, asking for a £500 (€577.69) contribution, which she could also not pay. 

“Months of stress and time spent putting together an application which amounted to nothing”, Louisa tells Euronews.

In May 2023, the government implemented measures to facilitate access to legal aid in child custody cases. But according to Kinship Carers, a charity that protects the rights of families “the measure does not go far enough and many grandparents are assessed on their capital to access legal aid, but they have no income.”

Louisa recalls the day of the hearing, “I was sitting in the waiting room and I saw lawyers walking past, complainants getting angry, other people shouting. I was so anxious. I managed to win the case. This was all due to the Suffolk Law Centre’s help – but it was still a horrible experience,” concluded Louisa.

Legal advice centres

“Complainants are often overcome with emotion during hearings and leave the court confused. We ask them to write everything down – what they have to do and by when,” Sharon O’Donnell, Family Law Caseworker at the Suffolk Law Centre tells Euronews.

“We don’t have the budget to offer advocacy services. There is only so much we can help with, especially when people come to us late in the legal process”, explains Sue Wardell, Operations Manager at the Suffolk Law Centre. 

In 2016, the number of cases in which two litigants face each other in court without representation has risen by 30% since 2012.

Legal advice centres are funded by the national Legal Aid Agency – but in recent years the number of these centres has declined. In 2021, there were 59% fewer centres than in 2009, according to the Law Society. A drop in the number of centres due to a decline in funding which has led to advice deserts – swathes of England and Wales where there are no legal aid advice centres.

When Euronews spoke to the Suffolk Law Centre back in October they were operating at ‘maximum capacity’, accepting no new cases until January 2024.

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Cases refused by lawyers

But according to some lawyers, legal advice centres can also generate problems.

“These organisations have advisers but they are often not trained lawyers. They will help you fill in the required forms, but they can also add fuel to the fire. Lawyers are trained to avoid litigation, to de-escalate a situation and encourage mediation’, explains Jenny Beck, co-founder of family law firm Beck & Fitzgerald.

Following the 2013 legal aid regulation, only domestic violence and child abuse cases guarantee legal aid in private family proceedings. According to the latest government figures, roughly 84% of family law cases supported by evidence of child or domestic abuse received funding. 

Finding a lawyer at the last minute

Last July, Marion, a mother of three young children, received a letter from her ex-husband’s lawyer. It was requesting custody of their children.

“My ex-partner was abusive, sometimes physically but mainly emotionally. I wanted us to stay on good terms but after we separated, he tried to take our children and the police intervened.”

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Marion didn’t know legal advice centres existed – so she navigated the legal system alone – assisted by a friend who was a former lawyer. The process was draining, “I was the one replying to my ex partner’s lawyer, there was no intermediary to protect me”, she recalls. 

Only one legal firm accepted to make a legal aid application for Marion’s case. After it was refused, she realised she would have to represent herself in court. 

Marion recalls how “terrified” she was on the day of the hearing. 

But a stroke of luck came her was, as she discovered a free on-site representation service funded by the Central England Law Centre while in the waiting room. Although many courts do not offer these services – Marion was able to speak with a paralegal – who was able to represent her. 

“I was in distress because my ex partner’s solicitor had demanded a ‘fact-finding hearing’ at the last minute. The paralegal explained that it wasn’t too late to change my mind and advised against me doing it. I would have had no idea”, Marion explains.

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“In the courtroom, I kept telling myself ‘don’t cry, stop shaking, don’t throw up’. I could barely control my body, it was impossible to digest everything that was happening around me – l can’t think how I would have represented myself”, she recalls.

As it stands, the case is still ongoing. Marion has an upcoming court date, for which she does not yet know whether she will have a lawyer.

The government’s response

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson told Euronews it had “widened” the “evidential requirements” “for victims of domestic abuse applying for legal aid to make it easier for them to prove their claims”.  

A spokesperson underlined that “last year alone we spent £2 billion (around €2,302,599) helping people in legal difficulty and have recently widened the scope of legal aid to help more victims of domestic abuse and family cases.”

While the Ministry of Justice insists that the “priority is to ensure that legal aid is available to those who need it most”, with a review on legal aid access set to be published in 2024.

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Names have been changed in this story to respect the anonymity of interviewees.

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Islamophobia is surging throughout Europe. Here’s how we stop it

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

It’s crucial for leaders and everyday people to unite in a remarkable effort to confront the pervasive hatred in our communities. It’s not just minorities that are at risk, it’s the Western world too, and our shared values of freedom, justice and equality, Naz Shah writes.

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Earlier this month, a plot between AfD party officials and neo-Nazis to deport millions of ethnic minorities from Germany was uncovered. 

But this conspiracy is part of a sinister undercurrent sweeping Europe and the wider Western world – one that goes hand-in-hand with a relentless surge in Islamophobia.

Since the atrocities of 7 October and the ongoing onslaught against the people of Gaza, Islamophobia in the UK has surged 600%.

Yet the British government has responded by inflaming rhetoric rather than promoting messages of unity.

Recently, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak used an Islamophobic trope as a response to another Muslim MP, which I was forced to call out on the floor of the Commons.

Meanwhile, the Conservative government has spent their time and effort – not healing worsening social ties or resolving the conflict in the Middle East – but forcing through the controversial Rwanda asylum plan that is the epitome of institutionalised xenophobia.

But xenophobia is becoming more than normalised in the echelons of political power – it is becoming key to winning elections across Europe, and beyond.

It’s all down to the power of fear

From Sweden to Greece, far-right groups and populist leaders are not just participating in elections; they are winning, often in record numbers. 

Geert Wilders’ ascent in the Netherlands, fueled by decades-worth of anti-Muslim rhetoric, including the promise to ban mosques and the Qur’an, exemplifies how Europe is faced with a political trend not towards integration and acceptance, but hate and exclusion.

And it could get a lot worse.

Should Donald Trump be elected US President this November, the Western world will have turned a new disturbing corner, where minorities become scapegoats for the ills of Western society. 

For example, Trump recently said immigrants were “poisoning the blood [of America]” to raucous applause from crowds.

There is no doubt that his ascent to the White House would herald an even stronger far-right revival, emboldening new populists to emerge from other EU nations.

But why is this divisive rhetoric, key to electoral success, resonating with so many? The answer lies in the power of fear.

Working tirelessly to humanise the other

For example, the great replacement theory that so many far-right populists exhort asserts Western civilization is facing an existential threat in a culture war against Western values. 

That narrative, of the West fighting for survival against an imagined onslaught of Islamization, is designed to tap into deep-seated existential fears.

And to some degree, it’s working.

Europe is being pulled towards far-right ideologies at a scale reminiscent of the preludes to World War II. 

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It isn’t just a political trend; it’s a dangerous slide towards an era of division and hostility, one that will challenge the very foundations of our democratic values.

How then, do we address a trend that threatens to engulf Western Muslims, other minorities, and core Western values of empathy, tolerance, and mutual respect?

Well, for one, we must work tirelessly to humanise the other. History shows that escalating persecution and violence against minorities is always paired with their dehumanization.

A set of values against the far right’s divisive rhetoric

This is why education must play a pivotal role. Schools must incorporate curricula that foster a better understanding of Islamic culture through exposure and knowledge of those with different backgrounds.

But education in schools must complement wider education in society.

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That’s why my participation in the Conference of European and British Muslim Leaders this past year was a pivotal moment for the British Muslim community.

This gathering, orchestrated by the Muslim World League in London convened hundreds of the most influential Muslim figures in Britain. At the centre of the conference was the Charter of Makkah, a sweeping bill of Islamic rights and values backed by over 1,200 scholars from 139 countries which testifies to Islam’s commitment to modern ideals.

For example, the charter emphasizes environmental stewardship, religious tolerance, and women’s rights. 

But these values are more than abstract ideals; they are integral to the daily lives of British Muslims. Importantly, they go directly against the divisive rhetoric of far-right extremists.

It’s time to put out the fires of extremist ideologies

This matters immensely. Recognising the shared values between British Muslims and the wider society strikes at the root of extremism. And such appreciation strengthens the fabric of our society, bolstering its resilience against divisive forces.

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But resilience cannot only come from us. The media, society, and government also have important roles to play.

For example, policy interventions remain crucial. The political obsession with Islamophobia is distracting policymakers from addressing the increase in white nationalist terrorism, which has risen at least 320% in the past decade and increasingly targeting the young. 

Ironically, the narratives that far-right parties are spewing against Muslims are precisely the fuel that this extremist ideology depends upon.

This is why governments should develop information campaigns about the dangers of the far-right alongside legislation that protects communities from hate crimes and hate speech. 

This is particularly relevant to social media and the online world, where the far-right feels they have a free pass to spread hatred.

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It is also time for the UK government to adopt the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims’ definition of Islamophobia. After all, how can you tackle something you cannot define or understand?

Ultimately, it’s crucial for leaders and everyday people to unite in a remarkable effort to confront the pervasive hatred in our communities. 

Because it’s not just minorities that are at risk, it’s the Western world too, and our shared values of freedom, justice and equality.

Naz Shah is a Member of the UK Parliament for Bradford West, serving as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Muslim Women, and Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups on Race and Community, British Muslims, and others. Shah has also served as Shadow Minister for Crime Reduction, Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion and Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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