United Kingdom Country Report
The UK's minority centre-right Conservative Party government under the leadership of Prime Minister Theresa May is likely to remain destabilised by internal divisions over Brexit and the dependency on parliamentary support from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to form majorities. Brexit creates high levels of political and operational uncertainty while the UK renegotiates its relationship with the bloc over the coming years. The main opposition Labour Party is resurgent after performing better than expected in the 2017 general election. There is a high risk of terrorist attacks by radicalised lone actors or small cells sympathising with the Islamic State and other militant groups.
The UK’s operational environment faces high levels of uncertainty in the context of Brexit. The country’s regulatory framework will change substantially once the UK ceases to be an EU member state and even more so after a transition period that will end by December 2020. Although it is still unclear what the new relationship between the UK and the EU will look like, state contracts for infrastructure are at heightened risk. Temporary strike action is likely to cause disruption. The unions that are most likely to go on strike are in the public transport, healthcare, and manufacturing sectors.
The United Kingdom faces a high risk of both low-capability and more sophisticated terrorist attacks launched by lone actors or small cells directly linked to non-state militant groups such as the Islamic State or inspired by their ideology. Soft targets, such as transport hubs, bars and restaurants, music and sport venues, shopping centres, or public spaces near tourist attractions, are likely to be most at risk. However, as lone actors often launch attacks near their homes, the risk of a terrorist attack is not limited to larger cities. There is also an elevated risk of retaliatory anti-Muslim attacks launched by far-right proponents and others.
Inter-state war risks are likely to remain very low in the UK because of the country's friendly relations with all its neighbours and many other states around the world. The United Kingdom is closely integrated in NATO and other international organisations, but is likely to rearrange its defence collaboration with European partners in the context of Brexit. An outbreak of military hostilities on British territory is very unlikely, either in the UK proper or in the country's overseas territories. Any temporary escalation of disputes over the Falkland Islands' sovereignty with Argentina or Gibraltar's with Spain is, for differing reasons, unlikely to lead to military confrontation or war.
Environmental activists are likely to stage disruptive protests targeting the fossil-fuel industry and auxiliary industries, particularly hydraulic fracturing operations. Peaceful protests against government policies are also likely, with a moderate risk of vandalism of commercial assets in city centres. In addition, pro-EU and pro-Brexit rallies are most likely to take place in central London near Parliament and Whitehall. There is a moderate likelihood that anti-EU protests will be joined by far-right groups.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Tick-Borne Encephalitis: For stays in rural zones and for hiking enthusiasts (for children over the age of one).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
In December 2015 and January 2016, Northern England and Scotland were hit by a series of storms that brought heavy flooding to the region, causing extensive damages to home and infrastructure.
Floods, fog, rain, and snow, which are particularly common in winter months, can have a significant impact on air, maritime, and ground transportation.
Driving lanes are on the left-hand side of the road and the the drivers' seat in local cars is on the right-hand side of the car. Although secondary roads can be narrow, even in big cities, the entire road network is very well-maintained, including in the countryside. Speed limits are 50 km/h (30 mph) in urban areas, 80 km/h (50 mph) outside urban areas, and 110 km/h (70 mph) on highways. Traffic wardens are very strict about parking; it is advised to refer to the Highway Code before driving in the United Kingdom. Roads signs in Wales feature directions in both the Welsh and English languages, with the Welsh first in many areas; plan ahead and allow more time for your journey, as it can be tricky to read signs whilst driving.
A congestion charge is imposed on all cars entering Central London Monday-Friday from 07:00 to 18:00 (local time). More information about this can be found on the Transport for London website.
Official taxis, commonly referred to as "cabs", are generally black with yellow illuminated "for hire" signage and a distinctive uniform appearance (hackney carriages). They feature a meter. Most of them accept payment by card but those who don't will gladly stop at an ATM on the way for the passenger to withdraw cash. It is safe to hail one off the streets, but it is advised to book one in advance as they can be scarce, especially in the City, London's business district. One should not accept rides from anyone proposing taxi services. In London, texting the word HOME to 60835 will produce a response listing telephone numbers for licensed taxi providers.
Public transport is extensive but not always on time. Strikes regularly affect public transportation. Maintenance work on the rail network can cause significant disruptions. Information about the status of National Rail Services can be found on the National Rail Enquiries website. Scotland's rail network is old. London has a very extensive bus network and offers hire bikes (Barclays bikes).
The United Kingdom is well served by air, both domestically and internationally. London counts five international airports, all within 15 to 45 minutes' reach from a Central London station. They include City Airport (LCY, located in Central London), Heathrow (LHR), Gatwick (LGW), Luton (LTN), and Stansted (STN) airports. London Heathrow and Gatwick International Airports have their own Heathrow Express and Gatwick Express lines, departing from London Paddington and London Victoria stations respectively.
The government has announced that passengers flying directly to the United Kingdom from six Middle Eastern and North African countries will be banned from transporting any electronic devices larger than a "normal sized" smartphone ( 16 cm x 9.3 cm x 1.5 cm) in carry-on luggage. This include laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, DVD players and videogames, which will be transported in checked luggage. The UK ban applies to all direct flights from airports in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey. The measure took effect on March 25 and will remain in place until further notice.
The United Kingdom has an oceanic climate. Summers are mild (temperatures rarely climb above 32°C) and winters are generally not very cold (temperatures rarely fall below -10°C). Average annual rainfall is over 1000 mm. The western coast, exposed to ocean winds, receives more rainfall than the east. Annual rainfall ranges from 5000 mm in the western Highlands (Scotland) and Wales to less than 500 mm in certain parts of East Anglia. November, December, and January are the least sunny months.
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