UK. According to countryaah, the international recession hit the UK economy hard, and according to a government forecast in the spring, GDP would fall by 3.5 percent in 2009. To try to boost the economy, the Bank of England cut its key rate during the first quarter of the year to 0.5 percent, but the central bank also received £ 50 billion for other measures. In June, more than 2.4 million Britons were unemployed, which was the highest unemployment rate since 1997. Most jobs were lost in the private sector, while the number of civil servants instead increased slightly. At the beginning of the year, wild strikes broke out among construction workers in several parts of the country in protest of employers employing labor from other EU countries.
The budget for 2009/2010 presented by Finance Minister Alistair Darling in April indicated that the government deficit would amount to £ 175 billion, which would be covered by loans. According to estimates, central government debt would rise to the equivalent of 59 percent of GDP in 2009/2010. The Government Party previously had a rule that the debt should not exceed 40 percent of GDP. Darling announced an increase in income tax for high-income earners as well as a series of measures aimed at creating new jobs, saving energy and counteracting climate change. Britons who bought a new car and at the same time replaced their old one (it must be ten years or older) would receive £ 2,000 off.
At the so-called G20 countries meeting in London in April, measures were taken to overcome the financial crisis. Special efforts were promised to poor countries, including a billion dollars would be provided through the International Monetary Fund (IMF). During a demonstration against the meeting, a newspaper salesman who did not participate in the protests died. It was suspected that he had died as a result of police violence.
An intense debate was underway on new rules for the international banking and finance sector. Disclosures that banks and financial institutions continued to pay out bonuses to their employees while receiving state support were criticized by both ministers and the media. The same was true of the pension package held by the former CEO of Bank of Scotland, which would give him around £ 700,000 a year. Plans for a privatization of the mail, Royal Mail, were abandoned in July, citing lack of credible buyers.
In March, Brown became the first European leader to visit US new President Barack Obama in Washington DC The same month, the Prime Minister confirmed that he had begun talks with the court to abolish the ban on the British monarch to marry a Catholic and to introduce a female throne.
In the spring, a scandal broke out that affected all the major parties. Disclosures about what politicians had demanded reimbursement from Parliament caused great outrage among the public. Among other things, a Labor politician had demanded compensation for double living, even though he only lived within two miles of his constituency. The fact that Interior Minister Jacqui Smith had included two porn videos that her husband watched via pay-TV gave major newspaper headlines. In May, the Daily Telegraph magazine published an article series with new information leaked. These included remuneration for extensive renovations of housing, care of gardens and swimming pools, attempts to escape municipal tax and more. Although the politicians did not break the rules, it looked as if they had tried to milk as much money as possible out of the system. Municipality Minister Hazel Blears had received compensation for three different homes during the same year. In May, 48 MPs pledged to repay a total of just over £ 300,000 of doubtful claims. A police investigation was initiated in some cases to determine if any crimes were committed. Both Brown and Conservative leader David Cameron apologized on behalf of their parties. The government set up a committee that would draw up new rules for what MPs can claim compensation for. President Michael Martin, who received criticism for how he handled the deal, was forced to leave his post in May. Martin was replaced by a conservative politician, John Bercow. Labor demanded that Gordon Brown resign. Several ministers, including Prime Minister Hazel Blears, resigned from the government,
The ruling party made a disastrous appearance in the local elections in England on June 4, with both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats receiving more votes than Labor. The Green Party won 18 council seats, an increase of eight, and the right-wing British Nationalist Party (GDP) won three seats. Labor also suffered a stinging defeat in the European Parliament elections held on the same day. The Conservatives became the largest British party with 25 seats, which was smaller than expected. Labor received 13 seats, as many as the British Independence Party (UKIP). GDP also entered the European Parliament where the party received two seats, one of which went to party leader Nick Griffin. The Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, the Scottish Nationalist Party, Plaid Cymru, Sinn Fein and Ulster’s Unionist Party were also represented in the European Parliament. When Brown re-furnished his government the day after the election, two ministers, including Finance Minister Darling, were reported to have refused to accept a move to another ministry, which was seen as a sign that the prime minister was weakened by the election contradictions. Alan Johnson, who was previously Minister of Health, succeeded Jacqui Smith as Minister of the Interior.
Conservative leader Cameron now led clearly in opinion polls, and most of it advocated a regime change at the 2010 election. Conservatives came to power. He argued that this was no longer possible after the treaty had been approved by all Member States.
Labor politician Catherine Ashton was appointed in November as the new EU “Foreign Minister” alongside Belgian Herman Van Rompuy, who became the Union’s “President”. Ashton, who since 2008 has been the EU Trade Commissioner, was fairly unknown even in the UK.
At the end of the year, Minister of Finance Darling presented a ban showing that the economy had continued to shrink. Darling announced a number of savings, increased social security contributions for all middle-income earners and a one-off tax on high bonuses in the financial sector.
In June, it became clear that an independent inquiry would be made of Britain’s involvement in the war in Iraq, led by Sir John Chilcot. It became possible since the British had formally relinquished responsibility for Basra to the US in March. Criticism of the process being kept behind closed doors led to the government changing its mind and deciding that it would go public. During the summer, most of the British soldiers left Iraq.
Britain’s efforts in Afghanistan, which took place under the mandate of the UN, began to become increasingly questioned during the year as more and more British soldiers fell. In December, 237 Britons had been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, 100 of them only in 2009. By the end of the year, the British sent another 500 men to Afghanistan. This meant that the British force there was about 10,000 men. However, Prime Minister Brown had demanded that other countries also send reinforcements. He had also demanded that Afghan President Hamid Karzai must take action against corruption if Britain continued to risk British life in Afghanistan.
Libya Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001 for blowing up a US passenger plane over Scottish Lockerbie in 1988, was released in August for humanitarian reasons – he was reported to be dying of prostate cancer. The decision was made by Scottish Justice Minister Kenny Mac Askill, but it was speculated in the media that he had been pressured by the London government, among other things, to secure a contract for the oil company BP. The United States had opposed a release. The release became even more sensitive when al-Megrahi was received as a hero upon arrival in Libya. 270 people were killed in the Lockerbie attack.
Jonathan Evans, new chief of security services MI-5, said in his January entry that there was no immediate risk of a new terrorist attack in the UK, but that terrorist cells in the country and al-Qaeda still posed a threat. Later, Home Secretary Alan Johnson said the terrorist threat to Britain had been lowered from serious to substantial. Three men, who in 2006 had planned to blow up a passenger plane on their way to the United States and Canada using liquid explosives, were sentenced in September to life imprisonment.
Police were commissioned in March to investigate whether an Ethiopian citizen, who had previously lived in the UK, had been tortured with MI-5’s silent consent. Binyam Mohammed said he was tortured both when he was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and in Afghanistan and Morocco, before being taken to the US Guantánamo base from where he was released in February. It was revealed in August that an MI-5 employee had visited Morocco three times during the time Mohammed was imprisoned there. Similar accusations came from several other people. According to UN Human Rights Reporter Martin Scheinin, the UK was one of nine countries that had assisted the US intelligence service CIA in moving prisoners to countries where they were at risk of torture.