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How the #UKGeneralElection works

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How the United Kingdom’s election on 12 December works and when the results will be known.

WHAT ARE PEOPLE VOTING FOR?

- The country is divided into 650 constituencies.

- Each constituency equates to one seat in parliament’s House of Commons. There are:

533 in England

59 in Scotland

40 in Wales

18 in Northern Ireland

- In each constituency, voters vote for a local candidate.

- Candidates represent a political party, or are independent.

- The candidate who receives the most votes wins the seat.

- Voting takes place on 12 December from 7h GMT until 22h GMT.

- Votes can be cast in person at polling stations across the country or in advance by post.

WHO CAN VOTE?

- There are 45.8 million registered voters in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. (1)

- British citizens resident in the country and aged 18 years or over on Dec. 12 are eligible to vote.

- Irish and some Commonwealth citizens resident in the country can also vote. Britons living overseas can also vote if they have registered to vote in Britain during the previous 15 years.

WHEN ARE THE RESULTS ANNOUNCED?

- An exit poll published at 2200 GMT usually gives a good idea of how the election has gone. In three of the last four elections, this poll has correctly called the overall result, albeit with a margin of error on actual numbers of seats.

- Most constituencies begin counting votes immediately after the polls close at 22h GMT.

- The first two constituency results are usually available by 2300 GMT, with others following in the early hours of 13 December. The bulk come between 2h and 3h GMT.

- All results should be declared by the end of 13 December.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

- If there is a clear winner or loser based on the exit poll and the subsequent declaration of actual results, an opposition leader may choose to concede, or a winner may declare victory.

- If the result is expected to be close, parties are likely to wait until almost all the results are in.

HOW MANY SEATS TO WIN?

- An absolute majority in parliament is 326 seats.

- However, the actual number for a working majority is lower. This is because lawmakers elected for the Sinn Fein party in Northern Ireland do not take up their seats.

- For example, at the 2017 election Sinn Fein won seven seats, effectively lowering the threshold at that election to 322.

WHAT IF THERE IS NO CLEAR WINNER?

- If no party wins a majority, it is called a ‘hung parliament’.

- If this happens, parties can try to form an alliance with one another to give them enough support to win a vote in parliament.

- The incumbent - in this case Prime Minister Boris Johnson - would get first try at putting together an arrangement to command a majority in parliament.

- This could be under a formal coalition arrangement, as happened in 2010 between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

- It could also be a ‘Confidence and Supply’ agreement with a smaller party to support the government, as happened in 2017 between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party.

- If Johnson cannot form a government he can resign and recommend that the leader of the largest opposition party is given a chance to form the executive.

Brexit

EU tells UK to say how long it will align with EU financial rules

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Britain must spell out how far it wants to diverge from European Union rules if it wants access to the bloc’s financial market from January, a top European Commission official said on Tuesday (27 October), writes

Britain has left the EU and access under transition arrangements ends on 31 December. Future access for the City of London hinges on UK financial rules staying aligned or “equivalent” to regulation in the bloc.

John Berrigan, head of the European Commission’s financial services unit, said Brussels has asked London for more clarification on Britain’s intentions to work out what is an “acceptable level” of divergence.

“We are almost ready,” Berrigan told the European Parliament.

“There will be divergence... but we have to get some mutual understanding of how much divergence is likely to happen, and is that going to be sufficient to allow us to maintain an equivalence arrangement.”

Brussels has granted temporary access for UK clearing houses, but chunks of stock and derivatives trading would move from London to the bloc without equivalence.

Separately, Britain and the EU are discussing a trade deal which would contain only limited references to financial services to avoid tying the bloc’s hands, Berrigan said.

“We see our regulatory co-operation in the financial services field outside the agreement,” he said.

It would consist of a “forum” similar to what the bloc has with the United States to assess potential divergence in rules ahead of time, he said.

“What we don’t want is an equivalence regime that is constantly under threat,” he said.

“We will need at the outset the direction of travel the UK want to go... so we don’t have to keep talking in emergencies about whether equivalence can be maintained or not.”

Britain has said that while it won’t weaken its high regulatory standards, it won’t be a “rule taker” or copy every EU regulation word-for-word to obtain market access.

Berrigan said market participants are generally ready for the “unavoidably fragmenting event” that full Brexit will be in January.

No trade deal would make future cooperation in financial services far more challenging, he added.

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UK will not back down on fisheries policy in EU talks: Gove

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Britain will not back down on its demands to the European Union over fisheries, minister Michael Gove said in a 26 October letter sent to a minister in the devolved Welsh government, writes William James.

Responding to concerns set out by Jeremy Miles, Wales’s Minister for European Transition, Gove wrote: “I am afraid we strongly disagree with your premise that we should ‘back down’ on fisheries.

“The UK government’s view is that in all circumstances, the UK must be an independent coastal state, no longer be bound by the Common Fisheries Policy.”

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Brexit decision entirely separate from US election outcome says PM Johnson

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Britain’s decision on whether to agree a Brexit deal with the European Union is entirely separate to the outcome of the US election next month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday (26 October), writes William James.

“The two things are entirely separate,” Johnson said, when asked about an Observer newspaper report that he was waiting to see the US result before making a Brexit decision, and whether he was concerned about the prospect of a Joe Biden presidency.

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