Two former Labour frontbenchers on Thursday urged ‘patriotic’ voters to back Boris Johnson and save Britain from Jeremy Corbyn. On a calamitous day for Labour, Ian Austin and John Woodcock said the party’s leader was ‘not fit to be prime minister’ – and must be stopped from reaching Downing Street at all costs. The two men, who both served as advisers to Gordon Brown in government, savaged Mr Corbyn’s record on security, the economy and anti-Semitism – and even questioned his patriotism.
Jeremy Corbyn has been branded “unfit to lead” by four senior ex-Labour MPs who have taken the unprecedented step of telling “patriotic” voters to back Boris Johnson. The lifelong Labour supporters, three of whom are former ministers or frontbenchers, said Mr Corbyn was “a menace” as well as “a disgrace to his party and a disgrace to this country”. They said it was “too big a risk” to allow Marxist Mr Corbyn to “get his hands on the levers of national security and defence” as all four said they would be voting Conservative.
Tom Watson’s sudden resignation has accelerated the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as rivals gear up to fill the gap. Dawn Butler, the shadow women and equalities secretary, was the first to declare that she would stand for the post of deputy leader yesterday. “I’ve thought very carefully about who should replace Tom and, after giving it some thought, I will be throwing my hat in the ring,” Ms Butler, 50, told Bloomberg TV. “I think I’ve got a track record of countering, holding people to account around race, equality and justice.
Jeremy Corbyn’s bid for No 10 suffered a blow from two ex-Labour MPs who urged voters to back Boris Johnson at the ballot box. Former Labour MP Ian Austin said Mr Corbyn was “unfit” to run the country over his failure to tackle antisemitism – but John McDonnell accused Mr Austin of being “employed by the Tories”. It comes as Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, former co-chair of the Conservatives, said the Tories had “lost the moral high ground” on racism because of the failure to tackle Islamophobia.
Dawn Butler is the first major candidate to announce she wants replace Tom Watson as Labour Deputy Leader after he sensationally quit on Tom Watson announced on Wednesday evening that he was stepping down as an MP and quitting frontline politics after 30 years. In contrast with Mr Watson, Dawn Butler has been a loyal ally to her fellow London MP Jeremy Corbyn. Speaking to Bloomberg TV, Ms Butler said: “I’ve thought very carefully about who should replace Tom and after giving it some thought, I will be throwing my hat in the ring.”
Senior Jeremy Corbyn allies are the touted frontrunners to replace Tom Watson following his shock decision to quit as deputy leader and an MP last night. Equalities spokeswoman Dawn Butler fired the starting gun on the race by announcing she would be throwing her ‘hat in the ring’. And frontbenchers Rebecca Long-Bailey and Laura Pidcock have also been mooted as a potential replacement to Mr Watson, who is not contesting his West Bromwich East seat in the December 12 election.
Jeremy Corbyn’s fitness for office was questioned by former Labour MPs yesterday as he revealed proposals to increase spending by more than £50 billion a year. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) criticised the plans to almost double public investment spending, which were laid out by John McDonnell. The shadow chancellor promised to spend £55 billion a year extra on schools, hospitals and other infrastructure, funded by borrowing. His plans would almost double public investment spending.
New mothers would be entitled to a full year of paid maternity leave and companies would have to offer flexible working by default under new plans announced by Labour. The proposals form part of a package of reforms that the party said would deliver a “step-change in how women are treated at work”. Other measures announced by Dawn Butler, the shadow women and equalities secretary, include fining companies if they do not tackle their gender pay gap and forcing firms to publish a plan for supporting women going through the menopause.
A Labour government would spend £150bn on improving the country’s schools, hospitals and low-cost homes under new plans that take the party’s promised investment in infrastructure to £350bn in five years. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, will announce the massive new spending pledge during a speech in Liverpool on Thursday. He is expected to say that a government led by Jeremy Corbyn would ramp up borrowing to launch a £150bn Social Transformation Fund to upgrade schools, hospitals, care homes and council housing after years of austerity.
Labour’s plan to splurge £400billion on transforming the UK was ridiculed yesterday for crippling the country with a record national debt. Chancellor Sajid Javid tore into the blueprint as being “fantasy economics” that is “totally unsustainable”. Instead, he promised a controlled £100billion spend on roads, rail, broadband and buildings over the next five years. Speaking at Manchester Airport, Mr Javid announced three new fiscal guidelines to replace the financial corset imposed after the 2008 crash.
Jeremy Corbyn accused Boris Johnson of trying to take us “over a cliff edge and into the arms of his friend Donald Trump” through a no-deal Brexit. The Labour leader was addressing the party faithful at a rally in Manchester and repeated his mantra that the “NHS is not for sale”. He said the health service was “the proudest achievement” of the party and assured “under Labour we will have a health service, not a market.”
JOHN McDonnell’s hard-left plans to splurge a whopping £55billion every year could “bankrupt Britain”, experts warned. The Labour plans would cost an eye-watering £1,900 per household, and would send borrowing soaring. The shadow chancellor plans to create a new £150bn ‘social transformation fund’ to pour cash into schools, hospitals and care homes over the next five years. This comes on top of £250bn to be spent on new eco projects like wind farms over the next decade.
New parents would be entitled to a year’s paid leave and staff would have the right to choose their own hours under a shake-up of workplace laws that Labour would introduce. As part of proposals in the party’s manifesto, parents would be eligible for an extra three months’ maternity or paternity paid leave, allowing parents to spend up to a year with their child before going back to work. Labour said it would also force companies to create jobs that allowed for flexible working and change the law to make it the default that workers could set their own hours.
Sajid Javid unveiled a £300bn investment spree as he tore up borrowing rules and reversed decades of Conservative policy with a pledge to revamp Britain’s roads, railways, schools and hospitals. The Chancellor said he will not use debt to fund current spending, such as benefits and wages, but will take advantage of rock-bottom interest rates by borrowing up to 3pc of economic output per year to invest. This spending pledge is unprecedented in recent history and marks a dramatic departure from the Tories’ focus on tight restrictions over the public finances.
Boris Johnson is targeting two of the most contentious issues of the election campaign – health and immigration – as Labour focuses on issues like equal pay and maternity leave. The parties will be out again in full force on day three of the battle for votes on 12 December. The prime minister is announcing plans for a new visa to attract doctors and nurses to the NHS – part of the Tories’ proposed Australian-style, points-based immigration system. But ahead of another full day of campaigning, Mr Johnson will have been relieved that Tory candidate Nick Conrad – who said in 2014 that women should keep their knickers on to avoid rape – stood down late last night after his comments provoked a furious backlash.
Constituency polling in London’s Remain-backing commuter belt has revealed signs of a “seismic” swing away from Boris Johnson’s Conservatives which could see arch-Brexiteers like John Redwood unseated in the 12 December general election, Liberal Democrats have claimed. A Survation poll commissioned by the party in Sir John’s Wokingham constituency, obtained by The Independent, found the Tory vote plummeting 15 points since the 2017 general election to 42 per cent, with Lib Dems just four points behind on 38 per cent – up 22 points.
Plans for an ‘NHS Visa’ to fast track doctors and nurses from abroad into vacancies in the Health Service will be announced today. Medical staff hoping to work here will have a decision on their applications within two weeks, and the visa fee will be half the normal price. The proposal is part of Tory plans for an Australian-style points system which will prioritise migrants with much-needed skills. Home Secretary Priti Patel will also warn that Labour’s ‘uncontrolled and unlimited’ migration would put greater pressure on schools and hospitals.
The Conservatives say they will make it easier for doctors and nurses from around the world to work in the UK after Brexit, if they win the election. The party would introduce an “NHS visa” as part of a promised “points-based immigration system”. But Labour said the policy was “full of holes,” with nothing to say about low-paid nurses and other hospital staff. And the Royal College of Nursing said “more ambitious” plans were needed to address NHS staffing shortages.
Boris Johnson has unveiled plans for half-price visas and preferential immigration processes for doctors and nurses wanting to work in the UK but faced calls to exempt them from the health surcharge. Johnson said the new NHS visa costing £464 would be part of the points-based immigration system he wants to introduce after Brexit. Under the proposed fast-track process, the Conservatives said applicants would be guaranteed a decision within two weeks and extra points would be awarded to those coming to work in the NHS.
Boris Johnson is promising a new “NHS visa” making it easier for doctors and nurses from around the world to work in the UK. The new visa will ultimately form part of the Conservatives’ planned points-based immigration system after Britain leaves the EU. The move reflects concern within the NHS that it will struggle to attract the staff it needs after Brexit. Under the scheme, the cost of a visa for health professionals would be halved from £928 to £464, while applicants would be guaranteed a decision within two weeks.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has announced plans for Labour to spend £150 billion for a “social transformation fund” over the next five years, to fix the “social fabric the Tories have torn apart”, ahead of the snap election next month. His Conservative counterpart Sajid Javid criticised the announcement, dubbing the figures “fantasy economics” before claiming the party has been fiscally irresponsible for decades. “Look to the lessons of history,” he said.
The Brexit Party
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage appears to have watered down his demand for Boris Johnson to scrap his Withdrawal Agreement in return for an electoral pact to avoid dividing the Brexit vote. Mr Farage has now said changes must be made to the Government’s political declaration for his party to back the deal. He said his party will stand at least 600 candidates in the General Election unless the Prime Minister removes the allowance for the Brexit transition period to last until 2022.
Nigel Farage’s Brexit party will be left with no MPs after the election, a leading academic has claimed, as more of the party’s candidates stood down and urged voters to back the Conservatives. Peter Udale, the Brexit Party candidate in the Cotswolds, said he was standing down and urged voters in his area to support the Conservatives as Richard Tice, the party’s chairman, declared that he would fight as a candidate in Hartlepool, one of the safest ‘Leave seats’ in the country.
Brexit Party MEP Claire Fox has told the European Union its “obsession” with hate speech has resulted in it “leading the way” on censorship and empowering the transgender lobby to deplatform lesbians and feminists who criticise its agenda. At a Special Hearing on media freedom and freedom of speech, the left-wing Brexiteer took the European Union to task for its “obsession with clamping down on elastically defined hate speech”, which she believes has led to a situation where the EU is “now leading the way on censoring what we say/read etc.”
The Liberal Democrats, the Greens and Plaid Cymru predicted that they could win an extra 40 seats after striking a pact yesterday and agreeing not to stand against each other in dozens of seats across England and Wales. The “Remain alliance” is designed to maximise the number of pro-EU MPs elected on December 12, with the parties hoping to succeed with a united front against a split Leave vote. There will be no pact, however, with Remain-supporting Labour MPs after Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench rebuffed approaches by Unite to Remain, the umbrella group behind the agreement.
THE LIBERAL Democrats, Green Party and Plaid Cymru have formed a ‘Unite to Remain’ electoral pact, agreeing not to contest each other in dozens of seats. Here’s the full list of the seats in which Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru won’t run. The Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cymru have formed a pact which will see just one of the three stand in 60 constituencies across England and Wales. The three anti-Brexit parties all support another Brexit referendum and want the UK to remain in the EU, with this election strategy is aimed at maximising the number of Remain MPs elected on December 12.
Three Remain-backing parties have revealed the 60 target seats where they will stand down to boost the chances of electing anti-Brexit MPs in the December election. The Liberal Democrats, Green and Plaid Cymru will not stand against each other in target constituencies around the UK. Foreign Secretary Dominc Raab will be under threat in his Esher & Walton constituency, as the Greens step aside for the Liberal Democrats during the December 12 poll.
The announcement of the oft-heralded – but until now lesser-spotted – electoral pact between pro-Remain parties should worry Brexiteers. Not enough for Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage et al to enter full panic mode, perhaps, but it should worry them nevertheless. One of the Brexiteers’ key advantages was always the incompetence of their opponents — from internal Labour turmoil to the People’s Vote obligingly going to war with itself days before the campaign was underway.
The Liberal Democrats, Greens and Plaid Cymru announced on Thursday that they won’t be standing candidates against each other in some seats at the general election. The pact is styled as a “remain alliance” with the stated aim of maximising the number of anti-Brexit MPs in the next parliament. Under the agreement the Greens will get a free run in 10 seats, the Lib Dems in 43, and Plaid Cymru in 7. But there are good reasons to be sceptical as to whether this is really a “remain alliance”.
Boris Johnson and Brussels are on an election campaign collision-course over whether the UK must send a new European Commissioner to Brussels. Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission’s incoming president, on Wednesday wrote to Mr Johnson tell him he has to put forward a candidate to represent the UK on the EU’s executive. But Mr Johnson has long said he would not send a candidate, and has so far resisted despite other countries having send their picks.
Nigel Farage has been handed a victory by the European court of justice, after judges found a political group he fronted had been unfairly treated over a demand to repay EU funds. The ECJ’s general court found that “appearances of impartiality were seriously compromised”, when a panel of MEP leaders decided in November 2016 that a Ukip-dominated group should be asked to repay €173,000 (£148,000) and denied a further €501,000 in EU grant money.
The Roman Catholic Church will oppose calls for priests to break the seal of the confessional to report admissions of child abuse, a public inquiry was told yesterday. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, said the church could not accept any recommendation from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse to require priests to disclose matters admitted to them during the sacrament.
Schools have been told to cancel flu vaccination sessions because a worsening vaccine shortage threatens to pile pressure on over-stretched hospitals heading into winter. GPs have been told to prioritise the sickest children as a result of delays delivering vaccines, which health chiefs blamed on the manufacturer, AstraZeneca. A million children could be left unprotected after a quarter of this year’s supply was held back by testing problems.
Hospitals in England must urgently offer salary top-ups to senior doctors in an attempt to avert a winter crisis in the wake of much disliked pension reforms, the health service regulator has said. NHS Improvement, which oversees foundation trusts and NHS trusts, has urged hospital heads to make immediate use of new guidance that allows cash payments in lieu of employer pension contributions to doctors who have left the staff retirement scheme over higher tax rates.
MORE than a million patients could face long waits in A&E as the NHS experiences its “worst-ever” winter, the British Medical Association says. It warns patients could wait over four hours to be seen — with a third ending up on trolleys. The BMA said a cold winter, flu and the impact of Brexit could be devastating, with 10,000 more beds needed to cope. Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Ministers should apologise to every patient for this winter of misery.”
Extinction Rebellion activists are planning “12 days of Christmas” protests in the run-up to the general election in a reprise of the demonstrations that paralysed the capital last month. Organisers say that they will undertake national and local action every day in the lead up to polling on December 12 to make this the first “climate change election”. Rupert Read, a spokesman for the group, said the protests would be aimed at politicians and not ordinary people.