Fixed odds betting terminal
A fixed odds betting terminal is a type of electronic slot machine found in betting shops in the United Kingdom and introduced in 2001. The terminals allow players to bet on the outcome of various games and events which have fixed odds, with the theoretical percentage return to player displayed on the machine by law. Like all casino games, the "house" has a built-in advantage. Slot machine FOBTs have an RTP of 90% to 94% depending on the chosen stake, standard roulette FOBTs have a long-term average RTP of 97%; the most played game is roulette. The minimum amount wagered per spin is £1 and the maximum is £100; the largest single payout cannot exceed £500 and this can limit the wager size e.g. the maximum wager on a single number on roulette at odds of 35:1 is £14. Token coins can be of value as low as five pence in some UK licensed betting offices. Other games include bingo, simulated horseracing and greyhound racing, a range of slot machine games. There are plans to reduce the maximum bet to £2 per game because the terminals lead some players into problem gambling.
FOBTs include a touchscreen and a slot for depositing cash. The major hardware manufacturers for the UK market are Scientific Games Corporation and Inspired Gaming. Under current UK legislation, these machines are allowed to offer content classed as Category B2, Category B3 as well as Category C content; the main article tabulates the legal maximum payouts. Shops are allowed up to four terminals, although this number includes traditional slot machines. Most shops favour the new FOBTs over the traditional slot machines; the Gambling Commission reports that there were 33,319 FOBTs in Britain's betting offices between October 2011 and September 2012. FOBTs have been criticised due to the potential for addiction, they have been dubbed the "crack cocaine" of gambling by critics. In response to this criticism, in 2014 bookmakers represented by the Association of British Bookmakers introduced the facility for customers to set time and money limits when using FOBTs. In October 2017, the Department for Digital, Culture and Sport began studying the possibility of reducing the £100 maximum bet limit and a decision was made in May 2018 to limit the maximum bet to £2.
This new maximum bet limit will not come into effect until April 2019, with bookmakers stating they are to close many shops after its introduction. As a result of the Scottish Referendum on Independence on 18 September 2014, The Smith Commission convened, led by Lord Smith of Kelvin KT. On 27 November 2014 the Report of the Smith Commission for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament was published. Page 22 under the heading "Betting and Lotteries" states "The Scottish Parliament will have the power to prevent the proliferation of Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals". All five main parties agreed the terms of the report. Devolution of this power to the Scottish Parliament will be enacted through the UK parliament in due course. Page 11 of the report states: "The UK government has undertaken to produce draft clauses implementing"... this and... "will publish these clauses by 25th Jan 2015". There are over 900 FOBTs in operation in Northern Ireland, but campaign group Fairer Gambling argues that they may not be legal under Northern Irish law, as the Gambling Act 2005 only applies in England and Scotland.
In 2015 the Department for Social Development said. A 2008 betting review in the Republic of Ireland ruled that the machines should not be introduced in Irish betting shops but would be allowed in casinos, it is claimed FOBTs are used for money laundering by paying cash into the terminal, making low-risk bets which involve a small relative loss, withdrawing most of the proceeds as a voucher, exchanged for cash at the shop counter. Changes in the UKGC regulators code have sought to eradicate the potential for money laundering. Video lottery terminal
Universal Credit is a United Kingdom social security payment, intended to simplify working-age benefits and to incentivise paid work. It is replacing and combining six means-tested benefits: income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support; the new policy was announced in 2010 at the Conservative annual conference by the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, who said it would make the social security system fairer to claimants and taxpayers. At the same venue the Welfare Reform Minister, Lord David Freud, emphasised the scale of their plan, saying it was a "once in many generations" reform. A key feature of the benefit was that unemployment payments would taper off as the recipient moved into work, not stop, thus avoiding a'cliff edge', said to'trap' people in unemployment. Universal Credit was legislated for in the Welfare Reform Act 2012. In 2013 the new benefit began to be rolled out to Jobcentres focusing on new claimants with the least complex circumstances: single adults without housing costs.
By October 2018, more than one million households were receiving the new benefit. There were problems with the early strategic leadership of the project and with the IT system on which Universal Credit relies. Implementation costs forecast to be around £2 billion grew to over £12 billion. More than three million recipients of the six older "legacy" benefits were expected to have transferred to the new system by 2017. One specific concern is that payments are made monthly, with a waiting period of at least five weeks before the first payment, which can affect claimants of Housing Benefit, leading to rent arrears. Universal Credit has faced other criticism: the architect of Tax Credits, former Labour Chancellor and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has warned that a hard-to-navigate application system and cuts to the value of the new payment for some groups of claimants risk bringing a million more children into poverty and adding to demand on food banks. In January 2019 a planned parliamentary vote on moving three million recipients of older benefits onto Universal Credit was suspended pending the result of a pilot study of 10,000 recipients, whose old benefits will be stopped and who will have the opportunity to apply for Universal Credit.
The Universal Credit mechanism was itself first outlined as a concept in a 2009 report, Dynamic Benefits, by Iain Duncan Smith's thinktank the Centre for Social Justice. It would go on to be described by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith at the Conservative Party annual conference in 2010; the initial aim was for it to be implemented over four years and two parliaments, to merge the six main existing benefits into a single monthly payment, as well as cut the considerable cost of administering six independent benefits, with their associated computer systems. Unlike existing benefits like Income Support, which had a 100% withdrawal rate, Universal Credit was designed to taper away – like tax credits and Housing Benefit – allowing claimants to take part-time work without losing their entitlement altogether. In theory, it makes claimants better off taking on work, as they keep at least a proportion of the money they earn, but reductions in funding and changes to withdrawal rates left commentators on either side of the debate to question whether it would make work pay.
The Daily Telegraph claimed "part-time work may no longer pay", "some people would be better off refusing" part-time work and in the Guardian Polly Toynbee wrote "Universal credit is simple: work more and get paid less". The "Minimum Income Floor" used when calculating Universal Credit for self-employed claimants may make it much less worthwhile for large parts of the population to work for themselves. Universal Credit has four types of conditionality for claimants depending on their circumstances, ranging from being required to look for full-time work to not being required to find work at all. Payments are made once a month directly into a building society account. Any help with rent granted as part of the overall benefit calculation is included in the monthly payment and claimants must pay landlords themselves, it is possible in some circumstances to get an Alternative Payment Arrangement, which allows payment of housing benefit direct to the landlord. Universal Credit claimants are entitled to Personal Budgeting Support, aimed to help them adapt to some of the changes it brings, such as monthly payment.
In 2015 the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced a future £3.2 billion a year cut to the overall Universal Credit budget after an attempt to cut Tax Credits that year was thwarted by parliament. The Resolution Foundation has argued that this cut, which will be felt more keenly as millions more people transfer to Universal Credit, risks the new system failing to achieve its original purpose of incentivising work in low-income households; the amendments were: Reductions in the amount of "work allowances" before tapered deductions due to income are applied, from April 2016 Limiting the per-child element to only two children for new claims and births after April 2017 Removing the extra element for the first child for new claims from April 2017In November 2016, in response to criticism that the previous changes had
Sajid Javid is a British politician and a former Managing Director at Deutsche Bank. A member of the Conservative Party, he was appointed Home Secretary on 30 April 2018, he has been the Member of Parliament for Bromsgrove in Worcestershire since the general election of 2010. Born in Rochdale, Javid studied Economics and Politics at the University of Exeter where he joined the Conservative Party. Working in banking, he rose to become a Managing Director at Deutsche Bank, he was elected as the Member of Parliament for Bromsgrove in 2010 and was promoted to Economic Secretary to the Treasury and Financial Secretary to the Treasury. He served in the Cabinet as Culture Secretary from 2014-15, Business Secretary and President of the Board of Trade from 2015-16 and Communities Secretary from 2016-18, he was appointed to his current role as Home Secretary in June 2018, following the resignation of Amber Rudd for misleading the Home Affairs Select Committee over targets for removal of illegal immigrants during the Windrush scandal.
Javid was born in Rochdale, one of five sons of parents of Pakistani descent. His father worked as a bus driver, his family moved from Lancashire to Stapleton Road, Bristol, as his parents took over a shop there, the family lived in a two-bedroom flat above it. His father's business was in a notoriously crime-ridden part of Bristol; as a teenager, Javid developed an interest in financial markets, following the Thatcher government's privatisations. At the age of fourteen, he borrowed £500 from a bank to invest in shares and became a regular reader of the Financial Times. From 1981 to 1986, Javid attended a state comprehensive near Bristol; when he witnessed a video showing an assault on a Syrian refugee, he remarked that it was reminiscent of bullying he had experienced at school. Speaking in 2014, Javid said that while at school: "I was naughty, more interested in watching Grange Hill than homework". Javid subsequently attended Filton Technical College from 1986 to 1988, the University of Exeter from 1988 to 1991.
At university, he studied Economics and Politics and during this time he joined the Conservative Party. Aged 20, Javid attended the annual Conservative Party Conference for the first time and campaigned against the Thatcher government's decision that year to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, he was handing out leaflets against the policy. He has since stated. Javid's time in the US working for an Investment Bank included a spell as an aide to Rudy Giuliani's winning 1993 New York mayoral campaign. Javid is a trustee of the London Early Years Foundation, was a governor of Normand Croft Community School, has led an expedition to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, to show his support of Help the Aged. Javid joined Chase Manhattan Bank in New York City after graduation, working in South America. Aged 25, he became vice president, he returned to London in 1997, joined Deutsche Bank as a director in 2000. In 2004, he became a managing director at Deutsche Bank and, the following year, global head of Emerging Markets Structuring.
In 2007, he relocated to Singapore as head of Deutsche Bank's credit trading, equity convertibles and private equity businesses in Asia, was appointed a board member of Deutsche Bank International Limited. He left Deutsche Bank in 2009 to pursue a career in politics, his earnings at Deutsche Bank would have been £3,000,000 a year at the time he left and the Evening Standard once estimated his career change would have required him to take a 98% pay cut. On 28 May 2009, the sitting MP for Bromsgrove, Julie Kirkbride, announced that she would be standing down at the next general election in light of the expenses scandal, her resignation was confirmed in December 2009. After a selection contest held by the Bromsgrove Conservative Association on 6 February 2010, in which he received over 70% of the votes cast by its members, Javid was announced as the official Conservative & Unionist Party Parliamentary Candidate for the 2010 general election; the other candidates up for selection included Baroness Stowell.
On 6 May 2010, Javid received 22,558 votes. In terms of the number of votes cast in the constituency, this was an increase on the majority of 10,080 at the previous general election, though was a reduction when compared both to the actual number of votes his predecessor had received and to the Conservatives' percentage share of the vote. According to former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, those MPs first elected in 2010 "are the best new MPs for over thirty years", he identified Javid as one of six Conservative MPs that he believed had "already made an impact in the first term". Javid was one of six new MPs profiled by the Financial Times, was named as the Newcomer of 2010 by the ConservativeHome website. In an analysis of the 2010 intake of MPs by Westminster consultancy firm Guide Public Affairs, Guide to the Next Prime Minister, published in August 2011, Javid ranked third, was the top-scoring Conservative. In October 2012, Iain Dale in The Daily Telegraph included Javid in his list of "Top 100 most influential figures from the Right".
Dale wrote: "His fast rise up the greasy pole into George Osborne's inner circle is not only proof of this man's ambition but his talent." Nicholas Watt in The Guardian has suggested that Javid could rise to the top. In The Times' 2014 right-wing power list, Javid moved up 18 places to #
Iain Duncan Smith
George Iain Duncan Smith referred to by his initials IDS, is a British Conservative Party politician. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions from 2010 to 2016, he was the Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition from 2001 to 2003, he was first elected to Parliament at the 1992 general election as the MP for Chingford—which he represented until the constituency's abolition in 1997—and he has since represented its successor constituency of Chingford and Woodford Green. Duncan Smith was born in Edinburgh and served in the Scots Guards from 1975 to 1981, seeing tours in Northern Ireland and Rhodesia, he joined the Conservative Party in 1981, succeeded William Hague as Conservative Leader in 2001. Duncan Smith was the first Catholic to serve as a Conservative Leader, the first to be born in Scotland since Arthur Balfour. In 2010, The Tablet named him one of Britain's most influential Catholics. Many Conservative MPs came to consider him incapable of winning an election when he was Conservative Party Leader.
In 2003, Conservative MPs passed a vote of no confidence in his leadership. Returning to the backbenches, he founded the centre-right Centre for Social Justice, a think tank independent of the Conservative Party, became a published novelist. On 12 May 2010, the new Prime Minister, David Cameron, appointed Duncan Smith to serve in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, he resigned from the Cabinet on 18 March 2016, in opposition to Chancellor George Osborne's proposed cuts to disability benefits. Duncan Smith was born in Edinburgh, the son of Wilfrid George Gerald "W. G. G." Duncan Smith, a decorated Royal Air Force flying ace of the Second World War, Pamela Summers, a ballerina. His parents married in 1946. One of his maternal great-grandmothers was Ellen Oshey, a Japanese woman living in Beijing who married Pamela's maternal grandfather, Irish merchant seaman Captain Samuel Lewis Shaw. Through Ellen and Samuel, Duncan Smith is related to Canadian CBC wartime broadcaster Peter Stursberg and his son, current CBC vice-president Richard Stursberg.
Duncan Smith was educated at Bishop Glancey Secondary Modern, until the age of 14 until he was 18 at HMS Conway, a Merchant Navy training school on the Isle of Anglesey, where he played rugby union in the position of fly-half alongside Clive Woodward at centre. In 1975, he attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Scots Guards. According to the BBC, Duncan Smith's biography on the Conservative Party website and his entry in Who's Who stated that he had studied at the University of Perugia in Italy. A BBC investigation in 2002 found this statement to be untrue. In response to the BBC story, Duncan Smith's office stated that he had in fact attended the Università per Stranieri, a different institution in Perugia, for a year, he did not sit exams, or gain any qualifications there. Duncan Smith's biography, on the Conservative Party website stated that he was "educated at Dunchurch College of Management" but his office confirmed that he did not gain any qualifications there either, that he completed six separate courses lasting a few days each, adding up to about a month in total.
Dunchurch was the former staff college for GEC Marconi. Duncan Smith was commissioned into the Scots Guards as a second lieutenant on 28 June 1975, with the service number 500263, he was promoted to lieutenant on 28 June 1977, retired from the military on 2 April 1981, moving to the Regular Army Reserve of Officers. He ceased to belong to the Reserve of Officers on 29 June 1983. During his service, Duncan Smith served in Northern Ireland and the region known as Southern Rhodesia, where he was aide-de-camp to Major-General Sir John Acland, commander of the Commonwealth Monitoring Force monitoring the ceasefire during elections. At the 1987 general election Duncan Smith contested the constituency of Bradford West, where the incumbent Labour Party MP Max Madden retained his seat. At the 1992 general election he stood in the London constituency of Chingford, a safe Conservative seat, following the retirement of Conservative MP, Norman Tebbit, he became a member of the House of Commons with a majority of nearly 15,000.
A committed Eurosceptic, Duncan Smith became a constant thorn in the side of Prime Minister John Major's government of 1992 to 1997, opposing Major's pro-European agenda at the time. Duncan Smith remained on the backbenches until 1997, when the new Conservative leader William Hague brought him into the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Social Security Secretary. At the 1997 general election, boundary changes saw his constituency renamed Chingford and Woodford Green and his majority of 14,938 was reduced to 5,714. Duncan Smith realised the dangers that he and neighbouring Conservative MPs faced, so redoubled his efforts: "We spent the final week of the campaign working my seat as if it was a marginal. I held on but everywhere around me went." In 1999, Duncan Smith replaced John Maples as Shadow Defence Secretary. William Hague resigned after the Labour Party continued in
David Blunkett, Baron Blunkett, is a former British politician, having represented the Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough constituency for 28 years through to 7 May 2015 when he stepped down at the general election. Blind since birth, coming from a poor family in one of Sheffield's most deprived districts, he rose to become Education and Employment Secretary, Home Secretary and Work and Pensions Secretary in Tony Blair's Cabinet following Labour's victory in the 1997 general election. After the 2001 general election he was promoted to Home Secretary, a position he held until 2004, when he resigned following publicity about his personal life. After the 2005 general election, he was appointed Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, though he resigned from that role that year following media coverage relating to external business interests in the period when he did not hold a cabinet post; the Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell exonerated him from any wrongdoing in his letter of 25 November 2005.
On 20 June 2014, Blunkett announced to his constituency party that he would be standing down from the House of Commons at the next general election in May 2015. The editor of the right-wing The Spectator magazine, Fraser Nelson, commented, "He was never under-briefed, never showed any sign of his disability... he was one of Labour's best MPs – and one of the few people in parliament whose life I would describe as inspirational." Responding to a question from Blunkett on 11 March 2015, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "As a new backbencher, I will never forget coming to this place in 2001 and, in the light of the appalling terrorist attacks that had taken place across the world, seeing the strong leadership he gave on the importance of keeping our country safe. He is a remarkable politician, a remarkable man."In May 2015 he accepted a professorship in Politics in Practice at the University of Sheffield, in June 2015 he agreed to become Chairman of the Board of the University of Law. In addition to his other work with charities, he was chairman of the David Ross Multi Academy Charitable Trust from June 2015 to January 2017.
He is the President of the Association for Citizenship Teaching. In August 2015 he was awarded a peerage in the dissolution honours lists, he was created Baron Blunkett, of Brightside and Hillsborough in the City of Sheffield on 28 September 2015. David Blunkett was born on 6 June 1947 at Jessop Hospital, West Riding of Yorkshire, with improperly developed optic nerves due to a rare genetic disorder, he grew up in an underprivileged family. This left the surviving family in poverty since the board refused to pay compensation for two years because his father worked past the retirement age, dying at age 67. Blunkett was educated at schools for the blind in Shrewsbury, he was never sent for assessment at the School for the Blind in Worcester, instead attended the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford. He was told at school that one of his few options in life was to become a lathe operator, he won a place at the University of Sheffield, where he gained a BA honours degree in Political Theory and Institutions.
He entered local politics on graduation, whilst gaining a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from Huddersfield Holly Bank College of Education. He spent a total of six years going to evening classes and day-release classes to get the qualifications needed to go to university, he worked as a clerk typist between 1967 and 1969 and as a lecturer in industrial relations and politics between 1973 and 1981. In 1970, at the age of 22, Blunkett became the youngest-ever councillor on Sheffield City Council and in Britain, being elected while a mature student, he served on Sheffield City Council from 1970 to 1988, was Leader from 1980 to 1987. He served on South Yorkshire County Council from 1973 to 1977; this was a time of decline for Sheffield's steel industry. The Conservative MP for Sheffield Hallam, Irvine Patnick, coined the phrase "Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire" to describe the left-wing politics of its local government. Sheffield City Council supported the National Union of Mineworkers in their 1984-85 strike, designated Sheffield a "nuclear-free zone", set up an Anti-Apartheid Working Party.
Blunkett became known as the leader of one of Labour's left-wing councils, sometimes described pejoratively as "loony left". Blunkett was one of the faces of the protest over rate-capping in 1985 which saw several Labour councils refuse to set a budget in a protest against Government powers to restrain their spending, he built up support within the Labour Party during his time as the council's leader during the 1980s, was elected to the Labour Party's National Executive Committee. Having unsuccessfully fought Sheffield Hallam in February 1974, at the 1987 general election he was elected Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside with a large majority in a safe Labour seat, he became a party spokesman on local government, joined the shadow cabinet in 1992 as Shadow Health Secretary and became Shadow Education Secretary in 1994. After Labour's landslide victory in the 1997 general election, he became Secretary of State for Education and Employment, thus becoming Britain's first blind cabinet minister (Henry Fawcett, husband of suffragist Millicent Fawcett, had been a member of the Privy Council, of which the Cabinet is the executive committee, m
William Jefferson Hague, Baron Hague of Richmond, is a British Conservative politician and life peer. He represented Richmond, Yorkshire, as its Member of Parliament from 1989 to 2015 and was the Leader of the Opposition from 1997 to 2001, he was Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2010 to 2014 and was the Leader of the House of Commons from 2014 to 2015. Hague was educated at Wath Comprehensive School, the University of Oxford and INSEAD, subsequently being returned to the House of Commons at a by-election in 1989. Hague rose through the ranks of the government of John Major and was appointed to Cabinet in 1995 as Secretary of State for Wales. Following the Conservatives' defeat at the 1997 general election by the Labour Party, he was elected Leader of the Conservative Party at the age of 36, he resigned as Conservative Leader after the 2001 general election following his party's second defeat, at which the Conservatives made a net gain of just one seat. He returned to the backbenches, pursuing a career as an author, writing biographies of William Pitt the Younger and William Wilberforce.
He held several directorships, worked as a consultant and public speaker. After David Cameron was elected Leader of the Conservative Party in 2005, Hague was reappointed to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Foreign Secretary, he assumed the role of "Senior Member of the Shadow Cabinet" serving as Cameron's deputy. After the formation of the Coalition Government in 2010, Hague was appointed First Secretary of State and Foreign Secretary. Cameron described him as his "de facto political deputy". On 14 July 2014, Hague became Leader of the House of Commons, he did not stand for re-election at the 2015 general election. Hague was awarded a life peerage in the 2015 Dissolution Honours List on 9 October 2015. Hague was born on 26 March 1961 in Rotherham, England, he boarded at Ripon Grammar School and attended Wath Comprehensive School, a state secondary school near Rotherham. His parents and Stella Hague, ran a soft drinks manufacturing business where he worked during school holidays, his childhood nurse, Bessie Camm, went on to be the oldest living person in Britain from 2016 until her death in 2018, aged 113.
He first made the national news at the age of 16 by addressing the Conservatives at their 1977 Annual National Conference. In his speech he told the delegates: "half of you won't be here in 30 or 40 years' time... but that others would have to live with consequences of a Labour Government if it stayed in power". Writing in his diary at the time Kenneth Rose noted that Peter Carrington told him that "he and several other frontbench Tories were nauseated by the much-heralded speech of a sixteen-year-old schoolboy called William Hague. Peter said to Norman St John Stevas:'If he is as priggish and self-assured as that at sixteen, what will he be like in thirty years' time? Norman replied:'Like Michael Heseltine'". Hague read Philosophy and Economics at Magdalen College, graduating with first-class honours, he was President of the Oxford University Conservative Association, but was "convicted of electoral malpractice" in the election process. OUCA's official historian, David Blair, notes that Hague was elected on a platform pledging to clean up OUCA, but that this was "tarnished by accusations that he misused his position as Returning Officer to help the Magdalen candidate for the presidency, Peter Havey.
Hague was playing the classic game of using his powers as President to keep his faction in power, Havey was duly elected.... There were accusations of blatant ballot box stuffing", he served as President of the Oxford Union, an established route into politics. After Oxford, Hague went on to study for a Master of Business Administration degree at INSEAD, he worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, where Archie Norman was his mentor. Hague contested Wentworth unsuccessfully in 1987, before being elected to Parliament at a by-election in 1989 as Member for the safe Conservative seat of Richmond, North Yorkshire, where he succeeded former Home Secretary Leon Brittan. Following his election he became the then-youngest Conservative MP and despite having only become an MP, Hague was invited to join Government in 1990, serving as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Norman Lamont. After Lamont was sacked in 1993, Hague moved to the Department of Social Security where he was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State.
The following year he was promoted as Minister of State in the DSS with responsibility for Social Security and Disabled People. His fast rise up through Government was attributed to his debating skills. Hague was appointed a Cabinet Minister in 1995 as Secretary of State for Wales, he continued serving in Cabinet until the Conservatives were replaced by Labour at the 1997 general election. Following the 1997 general election defeat, Hague was elected Leader of the Conservative Party in succession to John Major, defeating more experienced figures such as Kenneth Clarke and Michael Howard. At the age of 36, Hague was tasked with rebuilding the Conservative Party by attempting to build a more modern image. £250,000 was spent on the "Listening to Britain" campaign to try to put the Conservatives back in touch with the public after losing power.
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K