Half of Leave voters feel “betrayed” by Boris Johnson’s failure to take Britain out of the EU today, leaving the Tories at risk of haemorrhaging seats to Nigel Farage’s Brexit party, according to a new poll. A survey carried out by a former Downing Street pollster reveals 57 per cent of Leavers are “disappointed” at the deadline being moved to January, 22 per cent are upset and just 2 per cent are pleased. However, more worrying for the Tories is the revelation that of those who voted for Brexit, 49 per cent feel “betrayed” at missing the October 31 deadline which the PM vowed to meet “do or die”, adding that he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than get an extension.
The Conservatives are now the Brexit party, senior Eurosceptics declared last night, as a succession of moderate Tories opposed to leaving the EU without a deal announced they were standing down. Downing Street has made clear that all their candidates will be expected to support getting Brexit done “immediately” after the election. Boris Johnson’s successful leadership campaign was fuelled in large part by Conservative MPs’ belief that he could vanquish Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, which came first in May’s European elections while the Conservatives slumped to fifth.
Jeremy Corbyn faces a huge battle to keep Labour together during the snap election today amid claims some of his own MPs don’t want to see him as PM. The veteran left-winger insists he is ‘ready’ for the dramatic pre-Christmas contest, describing it as a ‘once in a generation chance for change’. But the scale of infighting within the party was underlined last night when more than 100 of his own MPs ignored his orders to back holding a snap election. Meanwhile, former leadership contender Owen Smith has announced he will not be standing in his Pontypridd constituency, citing ‘political and personal reasons’.
Hardline Remainer Tony Blair has said that Labour should never have agreed to a snap election, and he refused to back party leader Jeremy Corbyn as the next occupant of Number 10. Speaking to Channel 4 News’s Matt Frei on Wednesday, the former Labour prime minister said his party voting for a December 12th election was “an act of extraordinary stupidity”. “I think it’s profoundly adverse to the interests of the country. There’s nothing wrong with having a General Election. Have a General Election, but don’t mix it up with Brexit,” Mr Blair said.
Labour has failed to act over sexual assault allegations against officials, one of its former MPs has claimed. In a bombshell development, John Mann, who is now a peer, said allegations had been ‘deliberately sat on’ by those at the top of the party. He said he raised the cases of three complainants in a letter to the Labour Party a year ago – but senior officials had taken no action at all.
The Brexit Party
The Brexit Party is considering withdrawing hundreds of its general election candidates in what would be a major boost to Boris Johnson’s hopes of winning a majority. Splits have emerged in Nigel Farage’s party over its election strategy, with several senior figures backing the “sensible” option of focusing its resources on a small number of Leave-voting Labour seats that it stands a realistic chance of winning. One senior Brexit Party MEP suggested the party could field as few as 20 candidates, while other sources suggested the figure would be nearer 100.
Nigel Farage last night suggested that the Brexit Party will target Labour Leave seats – which could still cost the Tories an election win. In an email to supporters yesterday, the leader said the party would have ‘a big challenge on our hands to clear out the Remainer Parliament and win a majority for Brexit’. It signals that the party will not field candidates against Tory Eurosceptics. However, even targeting Labour Leave seats could deny Mr Johnson a majority – as those are the seats he is hoping to win to offset possible losses to the SNP and Lib Dems. It came as a major row engulfed the Brexit party over whether or not to stand in hundreds of seats across the country.
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party could be set to ditch contests in hundreds of seats in a bid to focus on winning the most pro-Leave seats, according to reports. It comes after a senior MEP in the party said it should abandon plans to target 600 constituencies at the general election and focus on about 20 mostly pro-Leave Labour seats. John Longworth, who represents Yorkshire and the Humber told the Times : “I think it is important for us to be sensible. “I think we ought to be targeted in terms of the number of seats that we decide to address.” He added: “I can imagine that might be 20 or 30. They would be entirely winnable then if you poured all your resources into them.
BREXIT Party boss Nigel Farage has given Boris Johnson 24 hours to make an electoral pact with him. Mr Farage will reveal on Friday how many candidates he plans to field as Tory chiefs warn he could let Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn into No10 by splitting the pro-Brexit vote. He had threatened to stand in all 650 seats but it emerged on Wednesday night he may slash it to just a few dozen. A source close to Mr Farage said: “A Leave alliance would win a big majority.” In a cryptic message, the Brexit Party told all candidates on Wednesday: “Important. Please all go DARK on social media. “DO NOT respond to any questions about where we (are) standing, what the strategy or plan is from now on. Things will be made clear . . . very soon.”
NIGEL FARAGE’s Brexit Party is reportedly split over its election strategy as senior members fear that dividing the Leave vote could lead to a Jeremy Corbyn premiership. The Brexit Party is now considering withdrawing hundreds of its general election candidates in order to boost Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s odds of winning a Leave majority. However, now splits have emerged within Mr Farage’s party over his election strategy that he said he is still “working through”. Several major figures within the party are allegedly backing a “sensible” option which involves focusing on a small number of Leave-voting Labour seats.
The Liberal Democrats have agreed an election pact not to stand against Tory rebel Dominic Grieve, as research by a pro-Remain campaign group predicted Boris Johnson will win a majority of 44. Best For Britain, which supports a second referendum, canvassed 46,000 voters on a constituency by constituency basis and found that the Tories are currently on course to win 364 seats, with Labour taking 189 and Lib Dems winning 23. However, the group said that if just 30 per cent of Remain supporters vote tactically, a Remain coalition of Labour, the Liberal Democrats, SNP and minor parties could win a slim majority of four. Tactical voting is seen by the Opposition as the only way to keep Boris Johnson out of Downing Street and campaigners including Gina Miller, who twice defeated the Government in the Supreme Court, have pledged to set up websites showing how voters can keep out Tory candidates by lending their vote to other parties.
The Liberal Democrat leader, Jo Swinson, faces being cut out of televised leadership debates during the general election campaign, as broadcasters begin torturous negotiations over who gets to show the nation’s political leaders arguing with each other on stage. While the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Sky News are all vying for the position, Swinson’s place in any forthcoming debate is less than assured. The Tories are thought to prefer simple one-on-one debates between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn in a bid to reduce the election to a simple choice between the two. Labour have adopted a similar stance amid fears they could lose pro-remain votes to the Lib Dems due to the party’s pledge to revoke Brexit
Richard Braine has resigned as leader of Ukip weeks ahead of the UK’s next general election. After less than three months in the post, and following a string of leaders who have all failed to unite the party, his resignation will raise questions over whether Ukip can continue as a viable political force in British politics. In a resignation letter, he blamed “internal conflict”, and said he found himself “powerless to prevent a purge of good members from the party”. His predecessor Gerard Batten said Mr Braine was resigning because the party’s chairman and its National Executive Committee “made it impossible for him to do his job”.
The Ukip leader, Richard Braine, has resigned after less than three months in the post after a clash with the party’s national executive, leaving Ukip seeking its seventh permanent leader since 2016. A party spokesman confirmed that Braine had said he would step down. It comes just over a week after Braine said the national executive had tried to suspend him amid a struggle for control of the party. One source said Ukip appeared to be on its last legs as a party, and might potentially field no candidates in the general election in December.
UKIP leader Richard Braine has resigned saying he had not joined the party “to waste time on internal conflict”. Mr Braine was elected leader in August 2019, making him the party’s eighth different leader since the Brexit referendum in 2016. He said he had wanted to unite the party but had been met with “pre-emptive opposition”. UKIP has yet to comment but it’s understood the party intends to appoint an interim leader shortly.
A no-deal Brexit is not yet off the table and there is still a risk of the UK crashing out of the EU, Michel Barnier has said. Speaking on Wednesday with the UK heading for a general election, the EU’s chief negotiator also warned that future trade talks would be “difficult and demanding”. “The risk of Brexit happening without a ratified deal still exists. We still need to prepare,” Mr Barnier said during a speech in Brussels. He warned that there was a “big difference” in no-deal preparedness “in all member states”, particularly between larger companies and smaller companies – who he said could be vulnerable.
Political disinformation is still rife on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and more needs to be done to tackle it, the EU has warned. With the UK’s general election looming, the European Commission said tech giants need to take “serious further steps” to address the issue or be prepared to face regulation. The EU’s executive praised networks’ initiatives to tackle the problem so far, but said they need to be more transparent about how they are going about it. “Still, large-scale automated propaganda and disinformation persist and there is more work to be done under all areas of the code. We cannot accept this as a new normal,” the EU commissioners for justice, security and digital economy said in a joint statement.
THE EUROPEAN Unions’ chief Brexit negotiator said “not one” European leader is pro-Brexit, adding that everyone in Brussels “regrets” Britain’s decision to leave the bloc. In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro and seven other European newspapers, Mr Barnier said: “I do not think there is – within the European Council – a single leader who supports Brexit. “We, especially Donald Tusk, regret the choice of the British people,”. Asked to comment on France’s refusal to commit to a long Brexit extension, which it has finally caved in to, he said: “Emmanuel Macron believes that we cannot give the impression that we are delaying [Brexit] or reluctant to implement the will of the British people.” He continued: “I once told Nigel Farage during a plenary session in the European parliament that no one wants to ‘steal’ Brexit.
Ten years ago MPs were the subject of public scorn and the office of Commons Speaker was held in contempt. At the end of John Bercow’s decade in the Speaker’s chair it is legitimate to question what has really changed. Mr Bercow replaced Michael Martin, who proved unequal to the challenge posed by the MPs’ expenses scandal. He leaves a parliament that has failed to cope with the Brexit referendum, not least because he made it harder for the executive to force its will by interpreting the rules to hand power to MPs. Brexiteers will always resent his interference and Remainers may yet come to reflect that he weakened safeguards against abuse without delivering lasting advantage to their cause.
Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of opening the door to a “backroom deal” with the SNP as Labour refused to rule out granting a second Scottish independence referendum beyond 2021. The Labour leader on Wednesday faced an angry backlash from Scottish MPs after one of his closest allies said the party would not “stand in the way” of another vote if it won power. Concerns over Scottish independence have mounted in recent days, with Nicola Sturgeon stating on Wednesday that a vote for the SNP at the election would be a “demand” for Scotland to “choose our own future.” Under the Scotland Act 1998, the SNP would require a Section 30 order to be approved by the UK Government in order for the Scottish Parliament to begin legislation for a new referendum.
Jeremy Corbyn has offered the SNP an independence vote if he wins the general election, but not in the first years of a Labour government. The Labour leader said that there could be a second referendum on Scotland leaving the UK at a “later stage” of his time in Downing Street. Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, has said that anyone who wants her party’s support to form a government should not “bother picking up the phone to me” unless they are prepared to allow a second referendum.
Nicola Sturgeon will put the SNP’s push for a second independence referendum at the heart of her election campaign. The first minister of Scotland said that her party’s message would be ‘clear, simple and unambiguous – vote SNP to demand independence and secure Scotland’s right to choose’. The Scottish nationalists are confident of picking up a string of seats from both Labour and the Conservatives. At present they have 35 MPs – down from the 56 they picked up at the 2015 general election – their high water mark.
A supertrawler nicknamed ‘Codzilla’ trawled for fish in a Marine Conservation Zone set up to protect threatened species in the English Channel. Tracking data shows that the Dutch-owned Margiris, one of the world’s biggest fishing vessels and a floating processing factory, strayed into the 229-square mile ‘Offshore Overfalls’ zone several times in the past three weeks. This and other zones were announced with a fanfare in 2016 but no legal measures have been set up to prevent fishing in the supposedly protected waters.
Conservation groups are calling for reform of marine protected areas after it was revealed that a “monster trawler” was allowed to fish in one in the English Channel. The Margiris, which is about 142m long and can process 250 tonnes of fish a day, dragged its nets repeatedly through the Offshore Overfalls Marine Conservation Zone, according to analysis of satellite tracking data by Greenpeace. The Dutch owners of the vessel, which was banned from Australian waters in 2013, said that it had caught 1,608 tonnes of horse mackerel and two tonnes of pilchards in the Channel this month.
The ‘broken’ business rates system must be fixed to save the high street, MPs have said. The Treasury select committee said the tax, which is levied on businesses’ premises, was unfair, overly complex and unfit for the way modern businesses run. In a scathing report, the MPs said the tax had ballooned, growing in excess of inflation for 30 years, to become one of the highest property taxes in the developed world. Retailers say the tax is fuelling store closures and contributing to the creation of ghost towns up and down the country.
Boris Johnson is more trusted to care for the NHS than Jeremy Corbyn, according to a poll for the Daily Mail. Asked which leader had the best health policies, 36 per cent of voters said Mr Johnson while 34 per cent opted for Mr Corbyn. In another blow to the Labour leader, nearly one in six supporters of his party are terrified at the thought of him becoming prime minister. And four in ten would be more likely to stick with Labour in the December 12 General Election if Mr Corbyn stood down. Even Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson was seen as stronger, more statesmanlike and smarter than Mr Corbyn in the Survation poll of 1,010 voters.
Reading fairy tales and solving puzzles with your children could reduce their risk of developing dementia in later life, it has been claimed. The suggestion came after research found that eight-year-olds with strong problem-solving skills retained them in old age. Scientists studied 502 Britons born in the same week in March 1946 who took thinking and memory tests at eight and again between the ages of 69 and 71. They found that “childhood cognitive ability was strongly associated with cognitive scores . . . more than 60 years later”. About 850,000 people in the UK have dementia.
A SIMPLE mental test for eight-year-olds could predict their risk of developing dementia 60 years later, a study says. Youngsters who scored poorly were more likely to have cognitive and memory problems by the time they reached their 70s. The findings could lead to a childhood screening programme for Alzheimer’s and better medications to treat it. At the moment drugs often fail because they are administered when the disease is too advanced. Experts followed 502 Brits born in 1946 who did mental tests aged eight — and again between 69 and 71, when they also had brain scans to look for rogue proteins linked to Alzheimer’s.