UK Conservatives take four-point lead over Labour

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the University of Edinburgh before signing the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal in Edinburgh, Scotland, on August 7, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 August 2018
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UK Conservatives take four-point lead over Labour

  • The poll, which interviewed 1,675 adults in Britain earlier this week, showed that May extended her lead over Corbyn to 14 points
  • The latest poll suggests a reversal in the recent trend of Labour benefiting from the Conservative infighting over May’s plans for Britain to leave the EU

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party has taken a four point lead over Labour according to a poll published in the Times newspaper on Friday, which suggests a row over anti-Semitism is damaging the opposition party’s appeal.
The YouGov poll published on Friday showed that 39 percent of those asked said they would vote for the Conservatives, a gain of one point for May’s party compared to last week when the pair were level. Labour dropped three points to 35 percent.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been criticized by Jewish groups for what they describe as his tolerance of anti-Semitism in the party. Corbyn has said he will not tolerate anti-Semitism.
But the row has threatened Corbyn’s standing at a time when the governing Conservatives are deeply divided over Brexit.
The latest poll suggests a reversal in the recent trend of Labour benefiting from the Conservative infighting over May’s plans for Britain to leave the European Union, which has raised the possibility of an early election.
The poll, which interviewed 1,675 adults in Britain earlier this week, showed that May extended her lead over Corbyn to 14 points, a jump of seven points on last week, on the question of who would be the best prime minister.


Vladimir Putin gets lavish welcome on visit to ally Serbia

Updated 33 min 4 sec ago
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Vladimir Putin gets lavish welcome on visit to ally Serbia

  • Church bells tolled, guns saluted and people waved Russian and Serbian flags on Putin’s route through the Serbian capital, Belgrade
  • Serbia has maintained close links with traditional Slavic ally Russia despite formally seeking European Union membership

BELGRADE, Serbia: Vladimir Putin received a hero’s welcome in ally Serbia on Thursday as the Russian president attempted to maintain political and economic influence in the Balkans, which is increasingly looking Westward.
Putin’s presidential plane was escorted over Serbian airspace by MiG-29 fighter jets he recently donated to Serbia as he arrived for the one-day visit. Church bells tolled, guns saluted and people waved Russian and Serbian flags on Putin’s route through the Serbian capital, Belgrade.
Serbia has maintained close links with traditional Slavic ally Russia despite formally seeking European Union membership. It has refused to join Western sanctions against Russia over Ukraine and has pledged to stay out of NATO.
Putin has recently stepped up efforts to restore Moscow’s influence in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe.
Putin and his host, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, praised the relationship between the two countries. Putin handed a top Russian honor to Vucic, who gave a puppy of a Serb dog breed to the Russian president.
Vucic thanked Russia for its support for Serbia’s claim over Kosovo, a former province that declared independence in 2008, and added that “however small,” Serbia has been a “reliable partner” to Russia.
Several bilateral agreements were signed, including on the supply of Russian gas and weapons to Serbia.
On the gas, Putin said Russian companies are ready to invest about $1.4 billion into a stretch of a pipeline that would go from Turkey via EU-member Bulgaria to Serbia and then on to Hungary, “but in the end, everything will depend on other countries, including the European Union.”
Putin’s visit come as thousands have been holding weekly demonstrations against Vucic because of what they see as his autocratic rule.
Tens of thousands of Vucic’s right-wing party supporters were bused into the capital on Thursday to gather in front of the St. Sava Orthodox church, which the two presidents visited. They were chanting slogans including “Serbia-Russia, we don’t need the European Union!“
Vucic’s critics say the gathering was staged to suggest that the Serbian leader has many more supporters than opponents, who have been marching the same route since December to demand free elections and media.
Several liberal Serbian rights groups issued a statement on Thursday protesting “glorification of Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime.”
It said that Putin’s visit “indicates that the Serbian rulers are ready to sacrifice human rights and better living standards of citizens because of their servile attitude toward Putin’s regime.”
Russia’s interest in Serbia relates to its strategic position between East and West. Of Serbia’s eight neighbors, five are NATO members and two more are seeking membership; and four are in the EU and two more are working toward accession. Serbia remains Moscow’s only ally in the region.
Unlike NATO, Putin formally does not oppose Serbia’s EU path and analysts believe that this is because he wants a staunch ally — or perhaps a Trojan horse — within the 28-nation bloc.
Putin’s popularity in Serbia is mostly because the Kremlin is supporting Serbia in its rejection of Kosovo’s independence. In contrast, most Western countries have recognized Kosovo’s statehood.