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Louise Stewart, Political editor, South East

Louise Stewart Political editor, South East

This is where you can find updates on all things political from Westminster to Whitstable, and my thoughts on how they affect you

Will London Bridge work mean misery for South East rail commuters?

London Bridge station
The rebuilding of London Bridge station is set to cost £1.6bn and take years to complete

London Bridge is one of the busiest railway stations in the capital with 120,000 passengers passing through it every morning - many having started their journey from towns and villages across Kent and Sussex.

Most of them now face months of disruption as the majority of trains won't be stopping at London Bridge station during the building works taking place there over the next three years.

The Conservative MP for Tunbridge Wells Greg Clark and his colleague, the Hastings MP Amber Rudd, say their constituents will be badly affected by the works.

They've written to the Transport Minister Stephen Hammond seeking assurances that, apart from the disruption to their journeys, commuters won't be penalised financially during the upgrade.

Mr Clark said: "People who work near London Bridge will have to go on to Cannon Street or Charing Cross and Waterloo and have to travel back - in order to do that they'll have to buy a bus ticket or Tube ticket.

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State Opening of Parliament: Coalition 'fizzing with ideas'

The Queen and Prince Philip at the State Opening of Parliament
The Queen delivered her speech at the State Opening of Parliament

With the usual pomp and ceremony the Queen arrived for the annual State Opening of Parliament - this time in a brand new coach, gifted to her for her Diamond Jubilee.

But the other traditions - Black Rod knocking on the Commons door which is then slammed in his face - remained the same.

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European elections: UKIP strong support in the South East

Nigel Farage
Does Nigel Farage have plans to stand as an MP in South Thanet when Laura Sandys stands down?

Throughout the recent election campaign the UKIP leader Nigel Farage had promised his party would cause an "earthquake in British politics" beating Labour and the Tories in the European elections.

Today he celebrated as UKIP topped the polls in most of the council areas across the South East. From Dartford through to Dover and Crawley.

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Local elections: South East battlegrounds

Polling station
UKIP predicted a "political earthquake" but had mixed fortunes in the South East

I think the local election results in the South East are significant as the Conservatives lost control of two councils - Maidstone and Crawley.

Labour won control of Crawley, which was a real boost for them - they'd pushed hard there - Ed Balls and Ed Miliband had both been campaigning in the town - it's one of their key target seats in the South East.

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European Elections: UKIP's chances in the South East

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage claims to represent the "biggest threat to the political establishment" in modern times

It's just four weeks until May's European elections which will be the last big electoral test for all the parties ahead of next year's General Election.

They will be a key test for the South East MEP and UKIP leader Nigel Farage. He used his conference speech earlier this year to tell activists that his party could top the polls in May's European elections.

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Budget 2014: Chancellor's plan aims to change 'more ebb than fleet' housing

George Osborne

George Osborne had largely managed to keep this year's budget under his hat after last year's debacle when the Evening Standard ran most of its contents in advance.

The silence led most political journalists to assume that meant the chancellor was going to pull a big rabbit out of the hat - a giveaway no one was expecting.

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Pitfalls of UKIP's 'major party status'

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage will take part in a televised debate about Europe with Nick Clegg in April

It's been a pretty good week for UKIP and Nigel Farage.

The broadcast regulator Ofcom ruled the party must be given the same coverage as the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats in the run up to the European elections.

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Brighton and Hove council tax rise 'unlikely to be backed'

Brighton Pavilion
Brighton and Hove City Council could become the first local authority to trigger a referendum over council tax

Brighton and Hove City Council could be about to make history.

A meeting of the full council to vote on next year's budget doesn't normally hit the headlines, but next Thursday the council could become the first local authority in the country to trigger a referendum over its council tax.

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Aviation in South East: 'Uncertainty remains'

Aircraft near Heathrow Airport
Expansion at Heathrow or Gatwick airports are the main proposals being considered by the commission

The Davies Commission report has been much anticipated.

Many hoped it would draw a line under the political arguments over how to increase aviation capacity in the South East and give business and the communities potentially affected some certainty.

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Chancellor outlines support for fracking in Autumn Statement

Anti-fracking protests in Balcombe
The fear of fracking sparked protests at Caudrilla's site in Balcombe, West Sussex, in the summer

For the first time in some years George Osborne enjoyed positive economic figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) and was able to tell MPs that the economy was growing faster than expected.

That said, his messages was that "this government will fix the roof while the sun is shining" - an obvious dig at the last Labour government, who he said should have done more to tackle the deficit while the economy was growing.

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More Correspondents

  • Peter Henley, Political editor, South of England Peter Henley Political editor, South of England

    Analysis and thoughts on politics in the south of England

  • Deborah McGurran, Political editor, East of England Deborah McGurran Political editor, East of England

    Analysis and updates on politics in the East of England

  • Andrew Neil, Presenter, The Daily Politics and Sunday Politics Andrew Neil Daily and Sunday Politics

    People and policies that make Westminster tick

About Louise

Louise joined the BBC as a news trainee when she graduated and has held a variety of roles from TV reporter to radio and television presenter in Scotland, political reporter based at Westminster and most recently - since September 2010 - political editor for BBC South East.

Louise's career highlight was covering the last general election at Westminster.

She was the late reporter the night Gordon Brown came out of 10 Downing Street and announced he was stepping down, and when David Cameron and his wife Samantha arrived. She also covered the coalition agreement, emergency budget and has been following the spending cuts.

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