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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.

British EU vote unlikely before 2020 if Labour wins power, Miliband says

By Ana Nicolaci da Costa LONDON (Reuters) - A future Labour government would only hold a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union before 2020 if more powers were transferred to Brussels, party leader Ed Miliband will say Wednesday. Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to try to reach a new settlement with the EU before holding an in/out referendum by the end of 2017, provided he wins the May 2015 election.

British opposition leader outlines EU referendum plans

The leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party on Tuesday pledged to hold a vote on the country's membership of the European Union only if the bloc legislated to transfer more powers from London. Prime Minister David Cameron has promised an in-out vote in 2017 if his Conservative Party retains power at next year's general election, but Labour leader Ed Miliband had not explained his strategy until now.

Firebrand British trade union leader Bob Crow dies

One of Britain's most powerful and militant trade union leaders, Bob Crow, who led strikes that shut down the London Tube on numerous occasions, died on Tuesday at the age of 52, his union announced. A colourful, left-wing Londoner with a dog called Castro and a passion for Millwall Football Club, Crow had been general secretary of the RMT transport union since 2002. He was constantly involved in disputes and campaigns on behalf of his 80,000 members, winning the admiration of transport workers -- and the hatred of many commuters.

Firebrand British trade union leader Bob Crow dies

One of Britain's most powerful and militant trade union leaders, Bob Crow, who led strikes that shut down the London Tube on numerous occasions, died on Tuesday at the age of 52, his union announced. A colourful, left-wing Londoner with a dog called Castro and a passion for Millwall Football Club, Crow had been general secretary of the RMT transport union since 2002. He was constantly involved in disputes and campaigns on behalf of his 80,000 members, winning the admiration of transport workers -- and the hatred of many commuters.
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