Bursting the Bubble Week 18

Does the Queen have a position on Britain's membership of the European Union?
Does the Queen have a position on Britain’s membership of the European Union?

As debate over the UK’s membership of the EU rumbled on for another week, The Sun claimed that the “Queen backs Brexit”. Citing a conversation the monarch had with MPs “a few years ago” in which she allegedly said “I don’t understand Europe”, the tabloid were quick to say that they had “multiple sources” to support the controversial front page headline. It has been suggested that Justice Secretary Michael Gove was the source of the story, although he has denied these claims. Moreover, Buckingham Palace were quick to complain to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) about The Sun’s report, insisting the Queen is “politically neutral”.

The SNP announced that they would start a fresh drive for Scottish independence in the summer. This is despite the fact that in September 2014, the Scottish electorate voted 55% to 45% to stay part of the United Kingdom. Speaking in Glasgow, Scottish First Minister and SNP party leader Nicola Sturgeon, said “patiently and respectfully, we will seek to convince you that independence really does offer the best future for Scotland”. She added that this would ensure “a future shaped, not by perpetual Tory governments that we don’t vote for, but by our own choices and our own endeavours”.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has sought to rebrand the Labour Party as one that that would refrain from a “tax-and-spend approach to the economy”. He said a Labour government would “invest in the long term in the economy” and “make sure that prosperity is shared by all”. McDonnell’s statement comes only four days before the Budget, in which Chancellor George Osborne is expected to confirm further spending cuts to reduce the UK’s forecasted £73.5bn deficit. It also comes in the same week that Dan Jarvis MP – a former soldier and a mooted future leadership contender – set out his own vision for the party. He argued that “New Labour didn’t see with sufficient clarity the downsides of globalisation. They knew it meant cheap consumer goods. But they didn’t recognise that too often it meant cheap labour too”.

International

The US presidential primaries reached new levels of controversy when a rally that Republican frontrunner Donald Trump was due to hold in Chicago was cancelled. Hundreds of demonstrators assembled at the University of Illinois at Chicago before Trump was due to speak and violence broke out. Both sides supporting and protesting against Trump have been deemed at fault. Some Trump enthusiasts yelled “Go back to Univision” at Hispanic people, mirroring what Trump said to Jorge Ramos, the anchor of the Spanish-language network, at a press conference in 2015. Those opposed to the former Celebrity Apprentice host were heard swearing, with some shouting their support for Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. Commenting on the cancellation, Mr Trump told MSNBC that “It’s sad when you can’t have a rally. Whatever happened to freedom of speech?”

In what has been seen as a breakthrough for artificial Intelligence, a computer programme has beaten a master player of the Chinese Board Game Go, which is considered to be more complicated than chess. Google’s Alpha-Go program was playing against Lee Se-dol in Seoul, South Korea, and defeated the master player 3-0 in a best of five match. One of Lee’s former coaches, Kwon Kap-Yong, told the AFP news agency: “Alpha-Go played consistently from beginning to the end while Lee, as he is only human, showed some mental vulnerability.”

A constitutional crisis has deepened in Poland. Its government had hoped to alter the way the country’s court system works, but the court says the changes are unconstitutional. Thousands have gathered in central Warsaw in protest against the actions of the Law and Justice Party (PiS), who have a parliamentary majority, with pressure also emanating from the European Union, the U.S. and the Council of Europe, the continent’s main human-rights organization.

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