Johnson makes election pitch to business…

“The prime minister and Jeremy Corbyn will set out their rival pitches in speeches to the CBI. Mr Johnson will pledge to hand small firms a £1,000 tax break by lifting to £4,000 an allowance they can claim against employer’s national insurance contributions. More generous allowances for business premises and research and development take the overall package from the Tories to £1 billion. Mr Johnson will also promise an immediate “fundamental review” of business rates, leading to a reduction of its “overall burden” on firms and employers. The prime minister will acknowledge that “big business didn’t want Brexit”. He will say that repeated delays and threats of a no-deal Brexit mean that ministers have been “marching businesses up to the top of the hill, only to march them down again”, adding: “While you didn’t want it, the people did vote for it. And so it was for politicians to deliver it.” Conservative campaign headquarters were unable to expand on the terms of reference for the review of the business rates or provide a timetable, beyond saying that it would be included in the first budget of a Tory government and that ministers would “consult widely”. – The Times

  • As PM promises cuts to four business taxes – Daily Telegraph
  • He woos business with £1bn in tax breaks – FT
  • And he visits Sikh temple on election trail – Daily Mail
  • Residents of Labour stronghold ready to vote Tory – The Sun

…And he prepares for TV election debate…

“Boris Johnson is being coached for tomorrow night’s live television debate against Jeremy Corbyn by an American Republican guru he worked with during the EU referendum. Brett O’Donnell, who prepared George W Bush and Mitt Romney for presidential debates, is in charge of the prime minister’s rehearsals for his head-to-head showdown with the Labour leader at 8pm, on ITV. He has been enlisted by the Conservatives after his success in preparing Mr Johnson and other leading figures in the Vote Leave campaign in 2016. He told them at the time that they needed to repeat relentlessly simple and clear messages such as the “take back control” mantra. According to All Out War, an account of the referendum campaign by Tim Shipman, political editor at The Sunday Times, Mr Johnson was at first unpersuaded, reading a copy of The Times during an early session with Mr O’Donnell. “Initially Boris wasn’t as focused as he needed to be,” Mr O’Donnell said in the book. “Then Boris realised he needed to get serious and start working. He turned it on. Boris went and did his homework and really flicked on the switch.” – The Times

  • Parties begin court action over debate exclusion – The Scotsman
  • Ex-actress vies with Grieve for Beaconsfield – The Times

…But Arcuri investigation to look at affair with other woman

“Johnson escaped censure in 2010 when he failed to declare an interest over an unpaid City Hall adviser, Helen Macintyre, who it later emerged had an extramarital affair with the then London mayor and gave birth to one of his children. Johnson acknowledged to the Greater London Authority’s standards committee at the time that a potential conflict of interest had not been disclosed over Macintyre and vowed to “bear in mind the definition of close associate for the future”. That pledge will be reviewed by the London Assembly’s oversight committee as part of its investigation into Johnson and Arcuri, after she made fresh claims about Johnson’s concerns over a potential conflict about their relationship in an ITV documentary. Len Duvall, a Labour assembly member who chairs the committee, said: “I’m looking at the paperwork into Helen Macintyre. We need to understand that because he was advised to make those declarations in the future. The question is why did he hide the new relationship with Arcuri?” – The Guardian

  • He cast me aside like ‘one-night stand’, says Arcuri – The Sun

Curtice: Women and unknowns may erode Johnson’s lead

“The polls continue to be encouraging for the Conservatives. Six over the weekend put the party on average at 43 per cent, with Labour on 30 per cent, the Liberal Democrats 14 per cent and the Brexit Party 7 per cent. Compared with what the same polls were saying a week ago that represents a four-point increase in Tory support, while Labour are up a point. The Liberal Democrats, down two points, and the Brexit Party, down one, have fallen back, doubtless in the latter case because of the decision to contest fewer than half the seats. However, these headline figures exclude those who say that they do not know how they will vote. If a lot of people have yet to make up their minds, could the figures change radically when they do? In particular, might Labour be able to close the gap by winning over the don’t knows? There is no simple answer as to how many people are don’t knows. Those who are uncertain about what they will do may well be less strongly motivated to take part in a poll.” – The Times


Labour 1) Corbyn hedges bets on future of Trident

“Jeremy Corbyn refused yesterday to rule out scrapping Trident as part of a post-election deal with the Scottish National Party. The Labour leader said that as prime minister he would want to revive and bring “realism” to nuclear non-proliferation talks, as part of which the future of Britain’s nuclear weapons would be on the table. Asked whether he would agree to scrap Trident if the SNP insisted on that as the price of backing a Labour government in a hung parliament, Mr Corbyn said: “I think the SNP would actually agree with me, and indeed in the past they certainly have, that the priority has to be giving realism to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, giving realism to the six-party talks in Korea, giving realism to the whole question of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, in the Middle East or anywhere else.” Pressed again on the issue, on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One, he replied: “Obviously if you went into non-proliferation treaty discussions then clearly every country’s nuclear weapons go into that equation.” Before becoming Labour leader Mr Corbyn opposed Trident but the party still backs the programme. He has in the past suggested that the Trident submarines could continue to operate but without nuclear weapons on board. Asked yesterday if that was still his view, he said: “No, my view is that we have nuclear weapons [and] that there is a nuclear non-proliferation treaty.” – The Times


Labour 2) As party steps back from climate vow

“Labour appeared to back away last night from a plan for Britain to produce net zero carbon emissions by 2030. The target was one of several radical policies passed by Labour’s annual conference in September. It was approved against the opposition of the GMB. The union, which represents workers in the energy sector and is one of Labour’s most important union backers, said that the rapid timeframe could put jobs in jeopardy. Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn’s Instagram page posted an image of the slogan “carbon neutral by 2030 — only with Labour”. The policy would be 20 years ahead of the target set during Theresa May’s time as prime minister. After The Times asked Labour whether this meant that a firm 2030 commitment had been written into the election manifesto, the post was quickly deleted. Rebecca Long Bailey, the shadow business secretary, talked about getting Britain “on track for a zero-carbon energy system during the 2030s” when announcing plans for Labour’s “green new deal” last month.” – The Times

  • But it pushes on with shares for workers scheme – FT

Queen did not approve Prince Andrew interview

“Palace insiders accused the Duke’s private office of “operating in a silo” as it emerged Her Majesty was only made aware of the primetime interrogation by Emily Maitlis after it had been set up. Rather than ending speculation about the Duke’s behaviour, the hour-long programme revived the controversy and generated fresh questions about his movements and various “alibis” he gave. Serious questions were being asked at the Palace about why the Duke had been exposed to a no-holds-barred interview without any preconditions attached. It left him having to answer repeated questions about whether he had ever had sex with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an Epstein sex slave, when she was 17, or with other young girls. One former senior courtier described the interview as “excruciating” while others said it was a “car crash”, but sources close to the Duke said he stood by his decision and claimed he had answered the questions with “honesty and humility”. It came as the Prince of Wales was urged to consider downgrading the Duke’s status as a working royal when he becomes king.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Emily Maitlis: My interview with Prince Andrew – The Times
  • Prince wishes he had expressed sympathy to Epstein’s victims – Daily Mail
  • Ex-army chief calls for investigation into torture claims – The Times
News in Brief