No deal

Brexit under WTO rules is still on the table, says the Telegraph.

No-deal Brexit planning will resume after the general election if the Conservatives win, a senior Treasury minister has said.
Rishi Sunak, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, told the Telegraph the Cabinet would continue its work to prepare for a hard Brexit because “there are all sorts of scenarios that might happen”.
This comes despite Boris Johnson saying no deal will be off the table, and that the chances of Britain not having a trade deal in place by the end of 2020 are “absolutely zero”.
Mr Sunak, who attends Cabinet, took part in nearly all the government’s daily no deal planning meetings, codenamed “XO” and chaired by Michael Gove.


The Beeb’s EU correspondent warns there are tough negotiations ahead, says the Express.

The EU will “play tough” with Boris Johnson in a newly revealed plot to trap the UK inside the European bloc “for years to come,” according to the BBC’s leading Brussels correspondent.
Leading officials inside Brussels believe that the UK will be stuck inside the EU for “years and years and years” after a shock new plot was revealed. The BBC’s Brussels correspondent Katya Adler confirmed that Brexit trade talks between the EU and UK will take years to negotiate. This sets up a potential clash if Boris Johnson triumphs at the general election.


We’ve a General election coming up – in case you hadn’t noticed.  The Mail says:

A revolt by Labour voters in the North and Midlands against Jeremy Corbyn‘s bid to block Brexit could hand Boris Johnson victory in next month’s General Election.
The Tories are on course to win about 30 seats in Labour’s English heartlands on December 12 thanks to a dramatic swing against Mr Corbyn’s party since the 2017 election, according to a Daily Mail poll.
It means the Conservatives are poised to triumph in working-class seats they have rarely – if ever – held, such as Bishop Auckland, Great Grimsby, Rother Valley, Stoke-on-Trent North, Workington and Bassetlaw. All are in areas which voted to leave the EU.

Labour Party

And the parties have started unveiling their manifestos.  Of Labour’s plans, the Telegraph says:

Jeremy Corbyn has disclosed for the first time that he will not campaign for his own Brexit deal when he said that he would remain “neutral” in a second EU referendum.
The Labour leader was accused of an “abject failure of leadership” after he told a BBC Question Time audience he would back neither Leave nor Remain, despite promising to negotiate a “better” deal with the EU within three months of taking power.

The Times reiterates that Corbyn will be neutral on Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn has revealed that he would remain “neutral” on whether Britain should stay in or leave the European Union in a second Brexit referendum.
The Labour leader, who until last night had refused to say how he would campaign, told a BBC Question Time special: “I will adopt a neutral stance so I can credibly carry out the result.”
The move risks alienating both sides of a deeply divided Labour Party.

The admission came during last night’s Question Time, reports the Independent.

Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed he would remain neutral in a Brexit referendum during a heated Question Time special where Boris Johnson was booed over his Brexit stance.
The party leaders endure a 30-minute grilling from the audience, where Mr Johnson came under fire over racist and homophobic remarks he previously made in newspaper articles.
Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson was given a tough time by Leavers and Remainers over her party’s pledge to scrap Brexit while Nicola Sturgeon insisted she would prop up a Corbyn-led government – at the price of an independence referendum.

But voters could be deserting Labour, reports the Express.

LABOUR’S rock-solid image of being Britain’s working class go-to party has been left in tatters after it has sensationally emerged that Boris Johnson is not only twice as likeable as Jeremy Corbyn but when it comes to understanding those in need, with the Prime Minister’s Government is just one percentage point behind the veteran left-winger.
Astonishing figures by pollster Ipsos Mori has revealed Labour’s grasp on the working class has plummeted, with Mr Corbyn’s party losing seven percentage points, while Mr Johnson’s gained six.

The Mail says the onslaught was ‘brutal’.

Jeremy Corbyn faced a brutal onslaught from the audience on Question Time tonight as he desperately struggled to convince voters he is fit to be PM.
The Labour leader looked shocked as he was booed on the flagship BBC show when he tried to explain his party’s convoluted position on Brexit.
For the first time Mr Corbyn made clear the public will never know whether he personally wants to Leave or Remain – admitting he intends to stay ‘neutral’ in a second referendum rather than backing the new package he wants to negotiate with the EU.

And Corbyn intends to bleed the rich says the Express.

JEREMY CORBYN has vowed to go after Britain’s billionaires and bankers if he finds himself in Number 10 after the election but what he has not been so vocal about are his tax proposals which would hit the hard earning middle class where it hurts most.
Labour launched its manifesto at a rally in Birmingham on Thursday, promising “radical” change for voters in return for their backing on December 12. The party has sought to distance itself from its often confusing Brexit stance since the election was called and is instead focusing on pledges to spend billions of pounds if it gets into government.

But he was branded ‘reckless’ during the televised debate, reports the Telegraph.

Jeremy Corbyn was branded a “reckless socialist” whose policies are “genuinely terrifying” in a bruising encounter with a live television audience.
The Labour leader was repeatedly attacked over his hard-Left agenda and his failure to stamp out anti-Semitism in his party, with one man branding his handling of the issue as “disgraceful”.
Fielding questions during a 30-minute slot on a special BBC Question Time programme in Sheffield, Mr Corbyn also confirmed that he would remain “neutral” during a second Brexit referendum.

The Independent report the party’s plans to extend HS2.

Labour has backed the new HS2 rail line and said it will extend the project to Scotland, under plans detailed in the party’s manifesto.
Under the policy the journey from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow would be cut to two and a half hours hours – down from four today – likely eliminating the need for vast numbers of domestic flights and slashing CO2 emissions.
The opposition’s commitment to the delayed mega-project comes after Boris Johnson threw its future into doubt by launching a review of whether it should go ahead or not.

And the Times claims his proposals have caused alarm.

Labour’s tax plans have caused alarm across the business community, with large companies and City institutions uniting with freelancers and entrepreneurs to say that they would stunt innovation and harm the economy.
Measures such as raising corporation tax, scrapping tax breaks for people who sell their businesses and a new levy on financial transactions have been criticised as “vilifying” wealth creation.

Conservative Party

It has transpired that the Tories’ head office is guiding its candidates on how to respond to voters’ questions, says the Times

The Tories have sent candidates a dossier that details their manifesto pledges and anticipates attacks on issues such as the NHS, Brexit and immigration.
The 68-page briefing, obtained by The Times, includes details of 32 policies that have been announced before the publication of the Conservative manifesto.
Candidates are provided with answers to questions that may be posed by voters or journalists.

The Morning Star reports plans to stop MPs moonlighting.

TOP Tories stand to collectively lose more than £2.5 million a year under Labour’s plan to stop MPs moonlighting for extra money, the Morning Star can reveal.
Labour’s manifesto has set out plans to “tackle vested interests” in British politics — including a pledge to “stop MPs from taking paid second jobs” with limited exemptions to maintain professional registrations like nursing.
The move would hit around a fifth of Tory MPs, according to the Star’s analysis of the register of MPs’ interests.

During the televised debate, the PM attacked Remainers for blocking Brexit, says the Express.

BORIS JOHNSON has launched a stunning attack on Remainers for blocking Brexit and hit out at Jeremy Corbyn’s position on Britain leaving the European Union, during his appearance on BBC Question Time.
The Prime Minister defended his decision to call a general election on December 12 and insisted he “had to do it” because “Parliament is blocking Brexit”.
During the BBC Question Time show from Sheffield, Mr Johnson was questioned on whether a win for the Tories at the election would give him a mandate for Brexit. Mr Johnson said: “On your point about the reasons for having an election, let’s be in no doubt, I didn’t want to have an election.

The Mail reports other criticisms.

Boris Johnson tonight faced barbs over his trustworthiness, controversial newspaper columns and failure to publish a report on allegations of Russian interference in British democracy as he ran the gauntlet of a live television audience.
The Prime Minister’s appearance on the BBC‘s Question Time general election special began with an immediate challenge over how important it is to ‘tell the truth’.
He then faced a series of tough questions about his record in public office but he emerged largely unscathed as he hammered home his ‘get Brexit done’ mantra.

Other policies revealed by the PM last night include a boost for cancer treatment, says iNews.

Plans for a £500m fund to give patients speedier access to the latest medicines for cancer and other serious conditions were announced by Boris Johnson.
The Prime Minister argued that the UK is a “world leader” in developing life-saving treatments but acknowledged that patients can still wait too long for the National Health Service to approve the latest medicines and therapies.
Under his proposals the Conservatives would launch an Innovative Medicines Fund with an initial annual budget of £500m.

And dementia sufferers could be helped, says the Telegraph.

Boris Johnson has pledged to double funding for dementia research to “unleash” the potential of British scientists to find a cure.
When the Prime Minister launches the Tory manifesto on Sunday he will promise more than £1.6 billion of dementia research funding over the next decade to solve “one of the great medical challenges of our time”.
There are currently 850,000 dementia sufferers in the UK, a number that is expected to rise to two million in the next 30 years. The cost of caring for people with dementia is expected to triple from £37.4 billion to £94.1 billion by 2040.

Sky News carries a similar report.

Plans to double investment into dementia research to more than £1.6bn over the next decade have been announced by Boris Johnson.
If his party wins the general election, the prime minister said the UK would lead the fight to tackle the disease he called the “next great frontier” in medicine.
The Tories said it would set Britain’s finest scientists to work on a “dementia moonshot”.

And Boris said he’d stop austerity, reports the Times.

Boris Johnson distanced himself from his predecessors Theresa May and David Cameron as he pledged to reverse austerity.
On last night’s Question Time Special the prime minister was heckled and challenged on his party’s record in power, his inflammatory comments about Muslim women and his honesty.
The audience groaned as he tried to repeat his central election message that public-sector investment could only be achieved if the Conservatives were allowed to deliver Brexit.

But he refused to apologise for comments he has made in the past, says the Telegraph.

Boris Johnson has defended his right to “speak out” and refused to apologise for past comments made in his newspaper columns.
Appearing on the BBC’s Question Time Leaders Special, Mr Johnson said: “I genuinely never intended to cause hurt of pain to anybody.”
Asked if he would apologise for past “racist rhetoric” in former newspaper articles, including comparing Muslim women who wear a veil to letterboxes in the Telegraph,  Mr Johnson said: “If you go through all my articles with a fine-toothed comb, there is no doubt that you can find things that can be made to seem offensive.”

Another policy revealed last night was the plan to stop rail strikes, reports the Times.

The Conservatives have pledged to end all-out rail strikes by passing a law ensuring that some services operate in the event of industrial action.
Rail companies and unions would be required to sign “minimum service agreements” that would set out in advance the numbers and the nature of staff who would remain at work in the event of a strike. If they refused to sign, the action would be declared unlawful and rail companies could obtain an injunction to stop the strikes.

The Brexit Party

The Telegraph reports that Nigel’s party is taking more votes from Labour than from the Tories.

It’s been conventional wisdom to say that the Brexit Party takes more Tory votes than it does Labour votes. Nigel Farage stood down every candidate in Tory-held seats earlier this month due to widespread fear that he would split the Leave vote, thus potentially bringing about a Corbyn government.
However, a recent poll in Great Grimsby – a constituency that heavily voted Leave – shows the Tories in the lead because of an 18 per cent drop in support for the Labour candidate – and a 17 per cent rise in support for the Brexit Party.
This suggests that in Northern constituencies the Brexit party is disrupting two-horse races to the detriment of Labour.

Nigel has called for a reduction in immigration, says the Sun.

NIGEL FARAGE called for migration to Britain to be slashed to 50,000 a year and a £200bn spend on the NHS and high streets as he announced his party’s general election policies today.
The Brexit Party leader unveiled his party’s election  battle plan at this morning’s Westminster launch.
Promising to help “ordinary people”, he also pledged to campaign for a “clean break” Brexit “from all EU institutions” as his party unveiled its Contract With The People, rather than a traditional party manifesto.

But he may not continue as the party’s leader if it fails to win seats, says the Times.

Nigel Farage has hinted that he could stand down as leader of the Brexit Party if it wins no seats at the election.
As he unveiled manifesto pledges designed to reverse a recent slump in the polls Mr Farage said that he would continue to campaign for Brexit in “whatever role” he had.
Asked if he would stay on as leader if the party failed to return any MPs to Westminster, he said that he was “absolutely committed to the complete reform of our political system . . . and whatever role it is in I’m going to go on campaigning for years to come for many of the things that are in that document [the manifesto].”

We all know manifestos aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.  Breitbart brings this message home.

Brexit leader Nigel Farage launched an all-out attack on one of the great elephants in the room of British politics Friday, when he laid into the establishment parties for persistently and wilfully lying in their election manifestos — documents he said that were written to flatter voters without any intention of actually following through.
Launching instead a “contract with the people”, which Mr Farage said the party would campaign on not just in the next three weeks until the election but going on from there into the future as well, the Brexit leader was particularly harsh on the tendency of other parties to launch documents during elections but then to totally ignore them once elected.


Away from the election, the Times reports that doctors who earn extra money over the winter will not be taxed on it.

An NHS plan to cover doctors’ extra pension bills to stave off a winter crisis violates civil service rules against tax avoidance, the government has acknowledged.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has formally overruled civil service objections and told the NHS to press ahead with the scheme anyway, citing “the importance that this government attaches to the NHS and to its performance over winter”.
As The Times revealed this week, the NHS is to spend hundreds of millions of pounds compensating doctors for unexpected tax bills this winter, after warnings that senior staff were avoiding overtime because of pensions rules which meant that some would effectively pay to work.


Just six chips?  Disgraceful, says the Telegraph.

BBC staff are said to be in “uproar” after the corporation’s canteen instigated a “six chip” rule for cooked meals.
Servers in the kitchens at Broadcasting House caused widespread bafflement after they were seen individually counting out chips as part of a new quota for employees.
Rebellion quickly started brewing among the BBC’s staff over the policy, some of whom took to social media to express their dismay.

Air travel

Good news for flyers in that BA could be ready to agree a pay deal with pilots, reports the Telegraph

British Airways is set to avert Christmas travel chaos after striking a pay deal with pilots, drawing to a close one of the most bitter industrial rows in airline’s 100-year history.
Union Balpa has written to members recommending they back a negotiated settlement that includes a sweetened pay deal and improves working conditions and bonuses.
The breakthrough is a relief to BA chief executive Alex Cruz, who has come under increasing pressure from Willie Walsh, the boss of parent IAG, to reach an agreement with pilots.

The Times also has the story.

A strike by British Airways pilots over Christmas looks likely to be averted after the airline agreed a pay deal with union leaders.
BA, still reeling from a damaging walkout in September, was said to have reached a resolution with the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa).
The union is believed to have accepted an 11.5 per cent pay rise over three years with the addition of a clause that allows for further rises in line with inflation. BA also offered better working conditions, rostering and bonuses alongside the restoration of generous travel perks stripped from pilots involved in past strike action.

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