Boris Johnson to Become Next UK Prime Minister

The United Kingdom has a new prime minister as Boris Johnson became the leader of the country’s governing Conservative Party. He defeated Conservative rival Jeremy Hunt by winning two-thirds of roughly 160,000 party votes across the country today.

He will officially become prime minister tomorrow once Queen Elizabeth II formally asks him to form a government.

Britain’s former prime minister, Theresa May, announced she would be stepping down in May after failing to come to a deal with the European Union on the UK’s exit from that body. Finalizing a Brexit deal is one of Johnson’s biggest mandates.

“I say to all the doubters: ‘Dude, we are going to energize the country, we are going to get Brexit done,’” Johnson said in his acceptance speech.

President Trump tweeted congratulations to Johnson this morning and expressed optimism for the job the former London mayor will do. “Congratulations to Boris Johnson on becoming the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He will be great!” the President wrote on Twitter.

Photo by Andrew Parsons via Flickr

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Theresa May Steps Down Amid Failure to Find Brexit Agreement

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation today, telling supporters that it was with “deep regret” that she couldn’t deliver a Brexit deal.

May said she had done everything she could to convince British Parliament to support a withdrawal deal she had crafted with the European Union but that now it was in the “best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort.”

Britain voted in 2016 to leave the EU, citing more control over economic and immigration issues as primary reasons. It has been negotiating with remaining countries on trade, immigration and other issues since. Approval of a replacement agreement has proved elusive, however.

May has offered two deals so far that have been soundly defeated in British Parliament. She has also asked for, and received, two delays in the Brexit effective date while a deal is being negotiated.

Britain’s membership in the EU will expire if no deal is reached by the deadline. A new agreement must be ratified by the both the British and European Parliaments in order to go into effect. The current date for England to officially depart the European Union is October 31, 2019.

May will step down on June 7. The process to find her replacement will begin the following week.

Reached for comment, President Donald Trump expressed sympathy for May and her predicament. “I feel badly for Theresa. I like her very much,” the President said. “She’s a good woman. She worked very hard. She’s very strong.”

Photo by Kuhlmann/MSC via Wikimedia Commons

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British Prime Minister May Asks for Second Brexit Delay

British Prime Minister Theresa May has asked the European Union for a delay for the Britain’s exit from the coalition. It is the second time she has done so.

May is asking for the exit date to be pushed back to June 30. It had been April 12. Finding a new deal on trade, immigration and other issues between the UK and the EU has proved elusive for the Prime Minister. Britain voted in 2016 to leave the EU, citing more control over economic and immigration issues as the primary reasons.

European Council President Donald Tusk has offered the UK a one-year extension to the exit date. Under that proposal the exit date would be March 31, 2020.

May has offered two Brexit deals so far that have been soundly defeated in British Parliament. She has also offered to resign if her deal is passed.

Britain’s membership in the EU will still expire if no deal is reached by the deadline. A new agreement must be ratified by the both the British and European Parliaments in order to go into effect.

Photo by Raul Mee (EU2017EE) via Flickr

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Cambridge Analytica Parent Company Bragged About Foreign Election Interference in Promotional Materials

The parent company of data research firm Cambridge Analytica, Strategic Communications Laboratories, has bragged about interference-tactics in foreign elections according to promotional materials published by the company. SCL, and its subsidiary, use psychometrics, the study of human characteristics to predict human behavior. They then use information gleaned from things like personality tests to help create algorithms that can help predict people’s reactions to online messaging, and ultimately, influence them.

According to marketing materials obtained by the BBC, the London-based company claims to have organized rallies in Nigeria in 2007 in order to weaken political support for the opposition. It also claims to have taken advantage of ethnic tensions in Latvia in order to help their client during that country’s 2006 elections.

In 2010, the company says it coordinated an “ambitious campaign of political graffiti” in Trinidad and Tobago that “ostensibly came from the youth” so that their clients could “claim credit for listening to a ‘united youth'”.

SCL claims in the brochure that potential clients could contact the company through “any British High Commission or Embassy.” The company also claims that it received “List X” authorization which means it had “government endorsed clearance to handle information protectively marked as ‘confidential’ and above.”

SCL was awarded British government contracts in 2008. Most of the activity described in the brochures seems to have taken place before then. The British Ministry of Defense confirms SLC was given List X authorization but that it was discontinued in 2013. The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office denies that SCL could be contacted through British diplomatic outposts, and awareness of SCL’s foreign election interference activity.

“It is not now nor ever has been the case that enquiries for SCL ‘can be directed through any British High Commission or Embassy’”, a spokesperson said. “Our understanding is that, at the time of the signing of the contract for project work in 2008/9, the FCO was not aware of SCL’s reported activity during the 2006 Latvian election or 2007 Nigerian election,” the FCO added.

Cambridge Analytica has recently been implicated in the data harvesting of some 50 million Facebook users’ account information, many of whom were U.S. voters. The information is believed to have been used to help Donald Trump’s campaign. Cambridge worked for the Trump campaign during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It has also been revealed that the company may have used the data to influence English voters in the Brexit vote of 2016, where British voters chose to exit the European Union.

British police raided Cambridge’s London office yesterday. One dozen investigators entered the office late Friday night with a search warrant granted from a High Court judge. They reportedly left the offices seven hours later.

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