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Brexit Party mulls standing aside in hundreds of seats

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. Mr Farage, who previously suggested he would field 600 candidates, said on Wednesday night he was still “working through” his options, but there are fears at the top of the party that splitting the Leave vote in marginal constituencies could lead to a Jeremy Corbyn premiership.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson given 24-hour ultimatum… – Daily Express
  • …as Farage urged to focus on 20 seats – The Sun
  • Senior figures divided over election tactics – The Guardian
  • Conservatives fear strategy could still cost their majority – Daily Mail

More:

  • Prime Minister takes a risk by seeking election before Brexit – FT
  • ‘Betrayed’ Leavers are a threat to Johnson – The Times
  • He’s prepared for a ‘tough’ campaign – The Sun

Comment:

  • More Leavers feel betrayed by Johnson’s failure than May’s – James Johnson, Times Red Box

>Yesterday: Alex Hall in Comment: Why the Conservatives shouldn’t enter into an election pact with the Brexit Party

Crosby protege takes helm at Tory campaign

“Isaac Levido, the former right-hand man of Lynton Crosby, has taken centre stage at Conservative headquarters (CCHQ) as head of the campaign, replacing his former boss in the election war-room as the party targets 50 key seats and defends another 50 marginals. Tory insiders said Levido – little known either inside or outside Westminster – has taken a desk in the middle of the office, known as the central “pod of power” occupied by Crosby in previous elections. Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s de facto chief of staff, will not officially be running the campaign and is still based in Downing Street, according to several sources. He is due to have an operation in November, which was previously delayed, and it is understood that this may still go ahead during the campaign.” – The Guardian

  • Johnson warns voters of the threat of a Corbyn government – The Sun
  • One in six Labour voters ‘terrified’ of Corbyn becoming Prime Minister – Daily Mail

More:

  • Tory poll headache as Yorkshire lags behind London – FT
  • Prime Minister mulls ban on fracking – The Times

>Today: Clark Vasey in Comment: ‘Workington Man’ could make the dream of a Northern county without a single Labour seat a reality

Iain Duncan Smith: We must unite Brexiteers to break this poisonous deadlock

“Yet in the last three and a half years, we sank into a political morass on a scale I have not known in all my time in politics. At the root of it is the simple reality that although a majority of the country – and a substantial majority of constituencies – voted for Brexit, this Parliament has a significant majority of MPs who want to remain in the EU at what appears any cost. Witness the contortions the Labour Party has gone through, changing its position from saying that it would uphold the referendum result to now demanding a second referendum. Small wonder that once Theresa May accepted an extension to 31 October, all hell broke loose.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson’s failure to get his way shows the virtues of a hung parliament – Martin Kettle, The Guardian

Morgan latest to step down from Parliament…

Nicky Morgan, the Culture Secretary, has announced she will not stand in the general election, citing the “abuse” that comes with being an MP and the impact of the job on her family. In a letter to her Loughborough constituency association, Ms Morgan said this can “only be justified if, ultimately Parliament does what it is supposed to do – represent those we serve in all areas of policy, respect votes cast by the electorate and make decisions in the overall national interest”. The surprise move further dwindles the number of prominent Conservatives who voted Remain in the referendum intending to seek re-election.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Rudd quits amidst row with Chief Whip… – The Times
  • …as she’s blocked from rejoining the Tories – The Sun

Comment:

  • Life as an MP can be lonely, but I still recommend it – Mims Davies, Times Red Box
  • My children would never follow me into politics – Caroline Spelman, Times Red Box
  • Brexit bearpit leaves no room for decent MPs – Jenni Russell, The Times

>Today:

…as Grieve and Sandbach prepare to run

“Two former Tories booted out by Boris Johnson said today they will run against the party at the general election. Hardcore Remainers Dominic Grieve and Antoinette Sandbach were among 21 Conservatives stripped of the whip in September after voting to block a No deal Brexit. Mr Grieve, a former attorney general and mastermind of several backbench revolts against the Government, confirmed he will run again in Beaconsfield. And Ms Sandbach said she would also go head-to-head with a Tory in Eddisbury, Cheshire. It came after they were not named among 10 of the 21 rebels who were readmitted to the Tory ranks yesterday, because their actions were seen as beyond the pale.” – Daily Mail

  • Party’s pro-Brexit stance strengthens with each departure – FT
  • Conservatives are now the ‘Brexit party’, claim Eurosceptics – The Times

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: Meet the candidates hoping to form the 2019 Conservative Parliamentary intake

Arcuri claims that Johnson knew about potential conflict of interest

“Boris Johnson was aware there was a potential conflict of interest in his relationship with Jennifer Arcuri, the US businesswoman has claimed, on the eve of the publication of an inquiry into how she secured a £100,000 government grant. In an interview for Bloomberg Businessweek, Arcuri also said that a senior official at the then London mayor’s promotional agency London & Partners (L&P) was renting a room in her Shoreditch live/work space in 2013. Around that time Johnson visited Arcuri in the property and the agency was sponsoring her events. In a further embarrassment to the prime minister, Arcuri said Johnson was aware of her business links to the former city trader and Libor-rigger Tom Hayes.” – The Guardian

  • She flags up plans for an election speaking tour – The Times

Scottish Tories offer ‘referendum-free years’…

“The Scottish Conservatives have launched their general election campaign promising a “referendum-free period” as Labour confirmed it would not block another independence vote. Jackson Carlaw, the Scottish Tories’ interim leader, said the party’s key pledges were to stop Nicola Sturgeon’s plan for another separation referendum and “get Brexit sorted.” He said only the Tories can be trusted to defend the Union after Andy McDonald, Labour’s Shadow Transport Minister, reiterated that Jeremy Corbyn “won’t stand in the way of a second independence referendum.” Launching the Scottish Tory campaign in Perth, where the SNP’s Pete Wishart is defending a majority of only 21, Mr Carlaw also denied there was a “vacuum” at the top of the party following Ruth Davidson’s resignation.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Tories suspend Assembly candidate accused of sabotaging rape trial – The Guardian

…as Corbyn offers the SNP another vote on independence

“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. The Conservatives seized on Mr Corbyn’s comments last night. Boris Johnson has already accused Labour of planning to do a deal with the SNP to enter No 10 and offer the public two referendums in quick succession: another Brexit referendum and one on Scottish independence.” – The Times

  • Labour leader accused of striking ‘shady deal’ – The Sun
  • Scotland ‘rails at Northern Ireland’s advantage’ in Brexit deal – FT

Labour leader sets tone with attacks on the rich

“Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, will set the tone of his election campaign on Thursday with a direct attack on “the privileged few” who benefit from a “corrupt system”, naming individual millionaires whom the UK opposition party wants to target. Mr Corbyn will promise to “go after” the Duke of Westminster, the landowner, Mike Ashley, the retail billionaire, Jim Ratcliffe, chair of the Ineos chemicals group, Rupert Murdoch, the media baron, and Crispin Odey, the hedge fund boss. In his first speech of the election campaign, Mr Corbyn will put himself firmly on the side of “the many not the few”, promising to shake up capitalism to help ordinary working families.” – FT

  • He aims to pit the people against the elite – The Times
  • Leavers rage at Labour plan to maintain freedom of movement – Daily Express

Comment:

  • Marxist politics of envy would bankrupt the UK – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail
  • A choice between state control and freedom – Ross Clark, The Sun

Editorial:

  • Corbyn starts as he means to go on: with lies – The Sun

Ministers accused of ignoring safety recommendations over Grenfell

“Ministers have been accused of ignoring safety recommendations made to them by a coroner four years before the Grenfell Tower fire. Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the Grenfell inquiry chairman, said yesterday that the lessons from another fire at a high-rise block of flats, in 2009, had not been learnt. Six people died in the Lakanal House fire in Camberwell, south London. Frances Kirkham, the coroner who investigated that fire, made a series of recommendations to ministers in 2013 that bear a striking similarity to Sir Martin’s findings. In the House of Commons yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn accused the government of a “failure to learn the lessons” from the Lakanal House fire and giving “no proper response to coroners’ recommendations”.” – The Times

  • May rebukes MPs who mock Corbyn – The Times

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: “It should never have happened.” May on the Grenfell inferno.

Liberal Democrats tout Swinson as ‘next Prime Minister’

“Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat leader, has claimed her party could take hundreds of seats at the general election as a leaflet proclaiming her as the next prime minister began landing on voters’ doormats. Ms Swinson said that the Lib Dems were “within a small swing” in the polls of securing an unprecedented result. The party took only a dozen seats in 2017 but Ms Swinson claimed that its call to cancel Brexit was chiming with the country. “Our polling shows that we are within a small swing of winning hundreds of seats, because the political landscape is so totally changed by what has happened in our country post-Brexit,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today. “People recognise our consistency and standing up for what we believe in.”” – The Times

More:

  • Conservatives could be denied majority if one in three Remainers votes tactically – The Sun
  • Miller launches tactical voting site – Daily Mail

Bercow finally steps aside

“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.” – The Times

  • Johnson mocks departure ‘longer than Sinatra’s’ – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Speaker should be the House’s servant, not its master – Natascha Engel, Times Red Box

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: PMQs sketch: Positively the final performance of the Westminster pantomime with its present cast

News in Brief:

  • Brexit and impeachment are blinding us to the bigger picture – John C Hulsman, CapX
  • Can Johnson succeed where May failed? – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • Tories targeting Workington Man can’t afford to alienate the South – James Blagden, Reaction
  • How I learned the Tories weren’t evil – Polly Mackenzie, UnHerd
  • The housing market needs new, workable solutions to fix the shortage – John Myers, 1828

2 comments for: Newslinks for Thursday 31st October 2019

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