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Britain goes to vote, Londoners get new mayor today


David Cameron

David Cameron Prime Minister

Londoners and the rest of Britain voted in local and regional elections yesterday, as the capital appeared set to elect its first Muslim mayor.

Voters elected councils across England, mayors and police commissioners in several cities, a Scottish Parliament and lawmakers in Wales and Northern Ireland in what local media dubbed “Super Thursday.”

The countrywide elections were considered a test for the Labour Party in the first nationwide polls since Jeremy Corbyn became the party’s new leader last year. The elections were expected to deal a blow to the party, which has been engulfed in a row over anti-Semitism.

In London, Labour Party’s Sadiq Khan, a Muslim and son of a bus driver from Pakistan, is the favourite to succeed Conservative Party’s Boris Johnson as mayor. Khan has held a consistent lead over his closest rival, c Zac Goldsmith of the Conservative Party in a number of opinion polls.

A survey by market research firm, YouGov for the London Evening Standard published yesterday, put Khan ahead of Goldsmith by 43 per cent to 32 per cent as a first preference for voters.

Not all went smoothly, however. A number of Londoners, including Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, were turned away from polling stations in the Barnet neighborhood of north London after officials apparently sent out the wrong voter lists, the Standard reported. Barnet’s council later said the problem had been resolved.

Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted a picture of himself and wife, Samantha after they voted yesterday, urging Londoners to back Goldsmith, son of the late billionaire financier James Goldsmith. Corbyn meanwhile, tweeted pictures of himself with various Labour voters. The result of the mayoral contest will be announced today.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, who is on a visit to London, told reporters at a news conference with Cameron later yesterday that Britain would be less attractive to Japanese investors if it leaves the European Union. A referendum will be held on June 23 on whether the United Kingdom should leave the 28-member bloc.

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