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British parties 'close to agreement' on more powers for Scotland

Britain's three main parties are coming closer to agreement on giving more powers to Scotland if voters reject independence, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was due to announce on Friday. The Liberal Democrat leader said his party, their coalition partners the Conservatives, and the Labour opposition had to offer the Scottish people opportunities if they opt to stay in the United Kingdom in the September 18 referendum. The three main UK parties are united in being firmly opposed to Scottish independence.

Britain bids farewell to socialist stalwart Tony Benn

Comrades and relatives bade an emotional farewell Thursday to Tony Benn, the totem of the British left whose funeral was held opposite parliament where he served for half a century. There were tears and applause as Benn's coffin, topped with red roses, was taken from the Houses of Parliament in London to St Margaret's Church across the road. Socialist anthem "The Red Flag" was played as people left the service.

Britain bids farewell to socialist stalwart Tony Benn

Comrades and relatives bade a tearful farewell Thursday to Tony Benn, the totem of the British left whose funeral was held opposite parliament where he served for half a century. There were tears and applause as Benn's coffin was driven from the Houses of Parliament in London to St Margaret's Church across the road, his coffin topped with red roses. A Labour cabinet minister in the 1960s and 1970s, Benn was a widely respected orator who clashed with his party's leadership over its drift away from the radical socialism he espoused.

UK deputy PM and anti-EU rival trade barbs in debate

Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg locked horns with the leader of the country's most anti-EU party on Wednesday in the first of two face-to-face debates ahead of forthcoming European Parliament elections. Clegg, leader of the Europhile Liberal Democrats, argued that Britain was "better off in Europe -- richer, stronger, safer", but UK Independence Party (UKIP) head Nigel Farage countered that the European Union was no longer fit to face the challenges of the modern economy.

BlackRock warns over 'major uncertainties' of Scottish independence

By Richa Naidu, Simon Jessop and William James (Reuters) - BlackRock Inc <BLK.N>, the world's largest money manager, warned that Scottish independence would bring about "major uncertainties, costs and risks" in Britain, becoming the latest company to join the debate on this year's referendum. Scotland will vote on whether to end its 307-year union with England in September.

Britain hikes growth forecasts in pre-election boost

Britain's economy will grow faster than expected in the run-up to next year's general election, finance minister George Osborne said Wednesday in a vote-chasing budget aimed at wooing pensioners and savers. Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne hiked his 2014 and 2015 economic growth forecasts and cut his borrowing targets, but vowed to maintain austerity as he addressed parliament on the coalition government's tax and spending plans.

British government, eye on election, offers help to savers, factories, brewers

By William Schomberg and David Milliken LONDON (Reuters) - British finance minister George Osborne courted voters ahead of an election in 2015 with promises of help for savers, tax breaks for manufacturers and lower levies on beer and bingo. In an upbeat annual budget statement, Osborne announced upgrades to official forecasts for the country's economic growth, although he stressed he would stick to his belt-tightening plans which will include a cap on welfare spending.

Scotland 'yes' camp has too much ground to make up

Supporters of Scotland breaking away from the United Kingdom are making up some ground but with six months to go until the independence referendum, it is not enough, analysts say. Armed with the slogan "Better Together", the three main London-based parties -- the Conservatives of Prime Minister David Cameron, their Liberal Democrat coalition partners, and the opposition Labour party -- have formed an improbable but resolute alliance to push the "no" vote.

UK minister slams concentration of privilege in government

British Prime Minister David Cameron's education minister on Friday condemned the concentration of privilege in the government, saying it was "ridiculous" that so many of the premier's inner circle went to the elite Eton school. Education Secretary Michael Gove, a member of Cameron's Conservative party who himself attended a private school in Scotland, said the situation was unique among developed nations.

British socialist stalwart Tony Benn dies at 88

Tony Benn, the totem of the British left who spearheaded the movement against the Iraq war, died Friday at the age of 88, his family said. A Labour cabinet minister in the 1960s and 1970s, Benn was a widely respected orator who clashed with his party's leadership over its drift away from the radical socialism he espoused.
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