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Scrap council tax! Tories urged to carry out radical reform or risk losing power to Labour




Such a move could save the average household as much as £556 a year as the cost of living crunch bites. Polling shows that voters in the North of England are strongly in favour of reforming the levy and that every constituency in the country backs a new property tax.

The findings come as both Conservative and Labour MPs urge the Government to reform the “outdated and unfair” system with council tax bills set to rise next week.

A poll of 4,000 people conducted by JL Partners for Fairer Share reveals widespread support for replacing Council Tax and Stamp Duty with a Proportional Property Tax (PPT).

This would be levied on the current value of properties rather than on 1991 levels.

Such a move could lead to bills falling for 77 percent of the country, with the average household likely to be £556 a year better off.

The polling found that the policy could be a “game changer” at the next election.

Were Labour to introduce a PPT, the policy could help the party gain as many as 52 seats including 43 in the so called ‘Red Wall’.

They could also make gains in Scotland and would see their vote share increase among swing voters by net 15 per ent.

If the Conservatives were to back the policy, their share of swing voters would increase markedly with 41 percent of undecideds more likely to lend their support to the party. Replacing Council Tax could see them gain as many as 60 seats in the next general election compared to their current position and hold on to the majority of Red Wall seats they won in 2019.

In Bury North, the most marginal constituency in England with a Tory majority of just 105, Labour could win 59 percent of the vote were the party to back a PPT.

The average household in the constituency would be better off to the tune of £550 a year.

A similar outcome would occur in Bolton North East, the study shows, with the average household in the constituency better off to the tune of £700 a year.

Many households face annual council tax hikes from next month.

According to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy the average household will pay £65 more than they have this year.

Findings from the polling add to the growing pressure for change with leading politicians from across the political spectrum publicly supporting calls for change including a number of MPs in Red Wall seats.

Conservative MP John Stevenson, Deputy Chairman of the Northern Research Group, said: “If the Conservative Party wants to deliver for voters and retain the ‘red wall’ seats that we won at the last general election then making our property taxes fairer is one of the ways to do it.

“We can now see clearly that voters in many marginal constituencies and others are overwhelmingly in favour of scrapping Council Tax. In its place they want a system of proportional property tax that would mean lower bills for the majority of households up and down the country.”

Fellow Tory Aaron Bell, the MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, said: “Abolishing council tax and stamp duty and replacing them with a fairer property tax is the right thing to do for millions of people up and down the country. And, with voters across the UK backing a proportional property tax by over three to one, I believe it is also the right thing for the Conservative Party, helping secure for the long-term the support of those voters who switched to us in 2019.”

And Simon Fell, Conservative MP for Barrow and Furness, added: “Now we know that the majority of people in constituencies up and down the UK want a simpler and fairer property tax system, there is no excuse for politicians not to deliver.

“Rather than sticking with an unjust and outdated council tax system, my party should go into the next general election promising voters a modern and progressive proportional property tax. This much-needed reform would lift a disproportionate burden from young people while delivering lower bills for millions of hard-pressed households across the country.”

Dame Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP for Barking, said the existing system of property taxation in the UK is “deeply flawed and highly regressive.”

“Now we can see that voters overwhelmingly want a fairer system, we urgently need to have serious debate about delivering exactly that. As the Government preside over a cost-of-living crisis and we head into a spring of tax hikes and soaring prices, there is a stronger case than ever for looking closely at a proportional property tax which would result in permanently lower bills for most households with no cost to taxpayers.”

Andrew Dixon, chairman of Fairer Share, said: “People up and down the UK are sick to the back teeth of council tax. They overwhelmingly want a fairer system in its place that reflects the true value of their homes. Our polling shows just how strong that feeling is and how reforming our property taxes holds the key to success at the next general election.”

James Johnson, founder of JL Partners and former head of polling at Downing Street, said:

“Both parties currently sit in a quagmire. The Conservatives are falling behind Labour in the polls, while Labour is still not trusted enough to win convincingly.

“This research shows that a proportional property tax could well be the way for either party to convince the electorate they are the party for them.

“Rarely do individual policies move the dial as much as this one does: it is highly popular with swing voters, and our modelling shows that it can bolster Conservative and Labour support – depending on who backed it – in the North and the Midlands but also across the country.”



'Have to kick the pedal to the metal' Ex-Ukrainian leader slams Macron tank aide hesitancy




Ex-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk sat down on LBC Radio to discuss NATO leaders. NATO has been allying themselves with Ukraine, sending help and weaponry and taking fleeing Ukrainian refugees. NATO members held a conference on the Russian invasion earlier this week to discuss more ways to help Ukraine.

Mr Yatsenyuk pushed for Macron to send over military tanks as promised, slamming him for dragging his feet, and claiming that the war in Ukraine affects the security of every European country.

Mr Yatsenyuk said: “That’s what Putin is closely watching, as for now, Putin didn’t expect this kind of unity and consolidated and concerted actions against the Russian federation.

“But you know, the time is running and we don’t have enough time to wait until some EU member states decide to supply more weapons to Ukraine.

“Or to impose tougher and stronger sanctions on the Russian Federation, so the EU has to be decisive and they have to speed up the process of new sanctions.

“And the shipment and delivery of weapons to Ukraine, because it’s not just about Ukraina and they realise it clearly, this is about the free world.

“And this is about the security of every single nation in the European Union, so the French have to kick the pedal to the metal.”

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky explained this week that he expected “serious steps” from Western-allied countries.

Mr Zelensky repeated the calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine to be imposed by NATO forces and complained that the Western allies had not yet provided Ukraine with sufficient planes, up to date modern anti-missile systems, tanks or anti-ship weapons.

Mr Zelensky added: “At these three summits we will see who is our friend, who is our partner and who sold us out and betrayed us.”

President Zelensky also expressed that he was grateful for the support Ukraine was continuing to receive from individual NATO member countries from around the world.

Mr Zelensky added: “But NATO has yet to show what the alliance can do to save people,” he said. “It feels like we’re in the grey zone between the West and Russia, but we’re protecting all our and your shared values.

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Mr Johnson added: “We’ve got to tighten the economic vice around Putin, sanctioning more people today, as we are, sanctioning the Wagner Group, looking at what we can do to stop Putin using his gold reserves, and also doing more to help the Ukrainians defend themselves.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has been playing an active role in trying to de-escalate the war with Russia by imposing tight sanctions on Russia to try and stop Putin’s warpath of destruction.

Ms Truss has warned that infighting between NATO countries at the moment could be highly detrimental for progress in ending the war.

Mr Truss said: “Russia’s targeting of critical national infrastructure is calculated and dangerous.

“It shows Putin is prepared to risk lives to sow division and confusion among allies.”


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Brexit news: What happens when Article 16 is triggered?




After Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) was confirmed, the two parties have been attempting to renegotiate terms for a special Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland. Coined the Northern Ireland protocol it’s been a point of contention that’s led to threats from each side of triggering a mechanism called Article 16. But what is it?

What is Article 16?

The UK and EU agreed to the creation of the Northern Ireland protocol, in October 2019.

By allowing goods to flow freely between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland the deal removed the threat of a hard border.

But the arrangement has also resulted in what’s been labelled as an ‘Irish Sea border’.

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Goods that now arrive into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK are subjected to more stringent checks and controls.

In the scenario that either the UK or EU feel that the protocol is leading to significant issues or hampering their capacity to trade, then they have the option of activating Article 16.

The component sets out the process for taking unilateral “safeguard” measures, which in reality would amount to suspending parts of the deal.

Specifically, Article 16 says safeguard measures can be taken if the protocol is leading to serious “economic, societal or environmental difficulties” that are liable to persist.

He said: “Triggering Article 16 now would severely disrupt the unity of the UK and EU response to the war in Ukraine.

“It is thus perhaps not surprising that key US figures chose this week to restate that any uncertainty around the stability of the Good Friday Agreement would hinder a future UK-US trade deal.”

In recent months talks between Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and her EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic have stalled, leading to calls from Brexiteers for the UK to act.

However, Professor Menon cautioned that triggering Article 16 won’t “rid” Britain of the protocol.

He added: “I think the British Government if it triggers Article 16 will do something relatively small and contained.

“And then there’s not a massive bust-up. You don’t end up getting rid of the protocol. You end up with months if not years of negotiations, mediation and arbitration.

“So, it’s a way of doing something but it’s not a way of solving anything. In a sense you’re still stuck with the protocol and you’re still negotiating about the future of the protocol.”

In essence, were Article 16 to be triggered it wouldn’t have a huge impact on the ground.

Many of the checks on goods flowing from Britain to Northern Ireland have already been unilaterally suspended.

Triggering the mechanism itself would only start a formal dispute process that requires both sides to go into talks to resolve.


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NATO slammed as former US Army chief exposes ‘two big issues’ in united Russia response




US Army vice chief of staff general Jack Keane, sat down on LBC radio to talk about the NATO conference which took place earlier this week. Mr Keane discussed the possibility that Putin could deploy chemical biological weapons on the battlefield. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already used the highly condemned thermobaric weapons since the war started just over a month ago.

The US Army chief acknowledged there had been no public policy declaration on the consequences Putin would face if he was to take such a barbaric action.

Mr Keane said: “Listen I was very disappointed by the NATO summit.

“I totally applaud the fact that they’re going to increase by 40k troops in Eastern Europe.

“And they’re increasing sanctions and it seems like a sense of unity.

“But on two big issues, it’s got to be disappointing, there’s no NATO public policy declaration.

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Mr Keane added: “At the end of that summit to deal with this particular issue, chemical biological weapons and nuclear weapons which the Russians have been waving in front of our face now for almost 30 days.

“What we need is… Think policy statement, not something that’s left to a reporter to ask a question on.

“And then you get a statement that you just repeated, which leads to more confirmation than anything else.

“A much better statement, using my words… I don’t want to put words into other people’s mouths.

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“But with me, the use of any form of WMB would be unacceptable.

“We will not let it stand, it will result in decisive consequential actions and all options are on the table.

“Words to that effect, in a public policy statement, and we didn’t get it and it’s really unfortunate.

“And what it does it leaves in the minds of Putin and his  leaders just what would the reaction be, ambiguous like that and I think it’s very unfortunate.”

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Fear of the Russian military deploying chemical biological weapons has been heightened.

Ukrainian outlet InformNapalm has warned that: “Our conclusions may sound premature or too apocalyptic, but after the missile attacks and bombing of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, which the Russian army resorted to, we believe that it is necessary to make these data public and try to thwart any such intentions of Russia.”

And NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels on Thursday: “We’ve tried to be very clear about the gravity of the use of any such chemical weapons.

“These are agents that should never be employed and certainly not on the battlefield, as we are concerned Russia might.”


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