In election news, council elections have taken place and Malta PM calls a snap election – plus, Prince Phillip to stand down, old fiver no longer legal and more!
1. Emmanuel Macron is the new French president
The young centrist candidate beat far right Le Pen, winning 66.1% of the vote. Macron’s win led to EU leaders’ reassurance, after Le Pen threatened to hold a ‘Frexit’ referendum. Aged just 39, Mr Macron is France’s youngest president and is a change from France’s two main political parties’ dominance. In his speech, Macron said “Tonight you won, France won. Everyone told us it was impossible, but they don’t know France.” Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission chief, tweeted that he was “happy the French chose a European future”.
2. Council elections take place
The council elections took place on 4 May, and Somerset had a 39% turnout. 55 seats were up for grabs, with Conservatives winning 35, Liberal Democrats 12, Labour 3, independent candidates 3 and the Green Party 2. Locally, Glastonbury and Street had two seats up for grabs, which went to Liberal Democrat’s Liz Leyshon and the Conservative’s Terry William Napper. The County Electoral Divisions surrounding Glastonbury and Street are Mendip West, Mendip South, Somerton and Curry Rivel and Langport, which all went to the Conservatives. In Somerset County Council the overall control went to the Conservatives.
3. Prince Philip to stand down from royal duties
Buckingham Palace released a statement on Thursday announcing that Prince Phillip will step down from his public duties in autumn. The statement explained that the queen supported the 95-year-old Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Phillip will still attend any previously schedules engagements until August but will not be accepting new invitations for visits or engagements. He may still attend some events “from time to time”, since he is patron, president or a member of over 780 organisations.
4. Old fiver no longer legal tender
Hopefully you’ve used up any final paper £5 notes, because only the new polymer fivers will now be accepted. On 05/05, the £5 note had legal tender status removed. The new notes are made of polymer, because they are “cleaner, safer and stronger” than paper notes. They also offer enhanced counterfeit resilience and last 2.5 times longer than the old paper notes. If you do still have any, you can exchange them in banks or post offices, or send them to the Bank of England in London, who say that “all Bank of England notes retain their face value for all time”.
5. Malta PM joins the snap election party
Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister of Malta, has called a snap general election for 3 June, a year before the end of his term. This comes after opposition parties demanded he resigned following allegations that his wife owns an offshore company in Panama. The allegations arose after a blogger accused the Maltese PM’s wife of improper business dealings based on the leaked Panama Papers.