Protestors in London on Saturday
- A top civil servant has announced that the civil service will not help Eurosceptic ministers to make their case, but will be supporting those who want Britain to remain. Sir Jeremy Heywood said that pro-leave cabinet ministers such as Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith would not be given access to government papers on the issue, except for those that they have already seen. The situation arises from the fact that it is government policy that the UK should stay in a reformed EU, and civil servants are required to support government policy. Nevertheless, UKIP described the move as a “total stitch-up” and Sir Jeremy has been summoned to explain his decision to a cross-party committee of MPs.
- Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in London against the upgrade of the UK’s nuclear deterrent, according to stewards at the protest. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) described it as the biggest demonstration against nuclear weapons in London for a generation. The leaders of the second and third largest parties in the House of Commons were among those who addressed the rally. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon stressed that “It is the exception to the rule to possess nuclear weapons”, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn expressed his “total horror of nuclear weapons” and said that he wants to see “a Labour government that would adhere to all the articles of the non-proliferation treaty”. The treaty, which was signed by Britain and came into effect in 1970, aims to “prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology”.
- Counting is underway in the Irish general elections. The ruling coalition, made up of Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael and the Labour party, appears to be doing badly. Kenny, the Taoiseach or prime minister, has admitted the government will change, though his party will remain the largest by a narrow margin. The politically broad Fianna Fail party (seen as being to the left of Fine Gael and the right of Labour) has made gains along with Sinn Fein. The form of the next government remains unclear.
- Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump secured big wins in primaries in South Carolina and Nevada respectively. Clinton, the current Secretary of State, managed to get over 73% of the vote as her campaign gains momentum ahead of “Super Tuesday”, when several states and territories will go to the polls. Sanders appeared to be focusing his resources on other states, having struggled to make an impact in South Carolina, particularly among black voters. Reacting to her victory, Mrs Clinton said that “in America when we stand together, there is no barrier too big to break”. On Wednesday, Donald Trump beat Marco Rubio by a margin of over 22% in Nevada, leading some to see him as unstoppable.
- A temporary truce in Syria, in place since midnight on Saturday, appears to be holding. The deal does not include ISIS or Al-Nusra, but has so far been breached only by minor incidents. However, the truce, brokered by Russia and the USA, is not expected to lead to long term peace, although it should allow badly needed aid to be delivered to besieged areas.