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The Debate 1) Corbyn avoids Brexit question nine times…

“Boris Johnson tore into Jeremy Corbyn over his “absurd dither and delay” Brexit policy last night in a furious live television clash that ignited the General Election campaign. In their first head-to-head debate in the contest for the December 12 poll, the Prime Minister asked the Labour leader nine times to spell out whether he would support remaining in the EU or leaving the bloc if a second referendum is triggered – but failed to get an answer. The Prime Minister said: “We don’t know on which side Mr Corbyn will campaign. Will he campaign for Leave or Remain? Mr Corbyn is trying to conceal the void at the heart of their Brexit policy.” The Labour chief repeatedly said he would give voters “the final say” without specifying his own position. Their row over Brexit dominated barbed exchanges in front of a studio audience in Salford on the ITV Johnson v Corbyn programme. A snap YouGov poll judged Mr Johnson the winner of the debate by a wafer-thin margin of 51 percent to 49 percent. During the ill-tempered exchanges, the pair also clashed over the NHS, the economy and climate change. Both leaders were jeered by members of the audience when they attempted to sideline questioning about public despair at the “childish abuse” rife in Westminster politics.” – Daily Express

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The Debate 2) …as Johnson ‘wins by a neck’

“With just over three weeks until the nation goes to the ballot boxes, the two leaders exchanged vicious barbs in the ITV special – but a poll suggested they fought each other effectively to a standstill. A snap YouGov survey found 51 per cent thought Mr Johnson triumphed, with 49 per cent saying Mr Corbyn came out on top. During the hour-long debate Mr Johnson insisted he is determined to ‘get Brexit done’, and warned that all Labour had to offer was ‘dither and delay, deadlock and division’ by calling another referendum. ‘We don’t know on which side Mr Corbyn will campaign. Will he campaign for Leave or Remain?’ he demanded, saying there was a ‘void at the heart of his policy.’ The audience in Salford laughed when Mr Corbyn claimed to have been ‘clear’ despite repeatedly ducking the question on whether he would support Leave or Remain. The premier also laid into the veteran left-winger for doing a ‘deal’ with Nicola Sturgeon, saying he would need SNP support to govern – and was willing to meet their red line of allowing a new Scottish independence referendum.” – Daily Mail

  • Sunak to replace Johnson in 7-way debate – FT
  • Corbyn’s best hope is minority government, say backers – FT
  • PM’s London home sells for £3.75m – Daily Mail
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The Debate 3) Labour leader says Monarchy ‘needs improvement’

“The Labour leader said “very, very serious” questions needed to be answered as the Duke of York was quizzed over his friendship with disgraced paedo financier Jeffrey Epstein. But he was booed by the crowd as he said the monarchy needed “improvement”. Speaking during the ITV leaders’ debate, Corbyn it was important to focus on the victims of Epstein, saying they had been treated in an “appalling” way. He added: “I think there are very, very serious questions that must be answered. “Nobody should be above the law.” It comes after the 59-year-old royal was criticised for not being sympathetic to the victims of Epstein, who died in August awaiting trial for sex trafficking. Boris Johnson also weighed in on the monarchy – saying they were “beyond reproach” when asked if the family was still relevant. But he then added “all his sympathies” with the victims of Epstein.” – The Sun

The Debate 4) Tories ‘factcheckUK’ stunt condemned by Twitter

“The Conservatives Party was accused of duping the public last night after rebranding one of its official Twitter accounts as “factcheckUK” during the first big televised debate of the election. The campaign stunt turned the @CCHQPress account — which is controlled by the Tory media team and verified by Twitter — into what appeared to be an independent fact-checking service covering the ITV clash between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. With a purple banner and check-mark logo, the branding played down links to the Tory party, bar a reference to “from CCHQ” in small print. The look made it hard to distinguish from other fact-checking services developed by independent organisations and media groups such as the BBC, the Guardian and Channel 4. FullFact, a registered charity, said: “It is inappropriate and misleading for the Conservative press office to rename their Twitter account ‘factcheckUK’ during this debate. Please do not mistake it for an independent fact-checking service.” – FT

The other leaders) Sturgeon makes referendum condition for deal with Labour

“The SNP leader ridiculed the Labour leader’s wriggling on the issue of when he would permit a new ballot on breaking up the union – quipping that his ‘position changes every day’. Laughing off Mr Corbyn’s suggestion that a referendum should be in the ‘early years’ of the next Parliament, rather than her schedule of next year, she said: ‘I drive a hard bargain.’ The comments came as Ms Sturgeon, Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage were interviewed on ITV. The appearances were separate to a head-to-head debate between Boris Johnson and Mr Corbyn – which Ms Swinson and Ms Sturgeon fought an unsuccessful legal battle to be included in. Mr Corbyn has admitted he will not stand in the way of another Scottish independence referendum, but flip-flopped wildly over the timing during a visit north of the border last week. He initially ruled out permitting a vote before 2024 – but then humiliatingly backtracked and suggested one should not happen in the ‘early years’ of a Labour government.” – Daily Mail

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Back on the campaign trail…… Lib Dems launch manifesto with promise of more teachers

“The Liberal Democrats have pledged to spend an extra £10 billion a year on schools and recruit 20,000 more teachers if they gain power. As the party launches its General Election manifesto on Wednesday the Lib Dems are promising to reverse frontline school cuts imposed since 2015 with an ’emergency cash injection’ of £4.6 billion next year. The Lib Dems insisted that by 2024/25, the party will spend £10.6 billion more on schools than in 2019/20. The money will help boost teacher numbers by 20,000 over five years, the Lib Dems said. The party said it would attract and retain teachers by increasing starting salaries to £30,000 and guaranteeing all teachers a pay rise of at least 3% a year over the next five years. The extra resources would also be used to boost support for children with special educational needs or a disability.” – Daily Mail

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Victims to be invited to parole hearings, under Johnson plan

“Boris Johnson will pull no punches today as he pledges a multi-pronged attack on crime. Among his measures will be an overhaul of Britain’s parole system to put victims back at its heart again. The curtain will be pulled back on the secretive process that decides whether criminals should be released from jail early. It means victims as well as the media will finally be invited into hearings for the first time — a ­victory for a Sun campaign. Those who suffered at the ­criminals’ hands will also get a full readout on what parole boards decide and why. The promises come after the PM vowed a fresh crackdown on “the scourge of knife crime”. It means swifter punishment as well as more powers for police. Mr Johnson gave the undertakings as he pulled on boxing gloves yesterday in a Manchester gym that is used to keep kids out of trouble.” – The Sun

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Labour 1) Tax plans could cost £1bn, says IFS

“Jeremy Corbyn’s plans to increase taxes for high earners would hit 1.6 million people and could end up costing the economy £1 billion, an independent analysis has concluded. Labour will confirm in its manifesto tomorrow that it will introduce a 45p rate of income tax on those earning more than £80,000 and a 50p rate on those earning above £125,000. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said that the proposals would cost an employee earning more than £100,000 an additional £1,000 in tax. Those earning £150,000 would lose £5,375. Labour has previously estimated that annual revenues from the tax rises could reach £6.4 billion. The Institute for Fiscal Studies, an independent think-tank, said that a “reasonable central estimate” was about £3 billion, because people were likely to reduce their taxable incomes. It added that revenues could even fall if the most well-off took legal tax avoidance measures, moved abroad or refused to declare overseas income.” – The Times

Labour 2) And three million pensioners could face council tax hikes, claim Tories

“Nearly three million pensioners could face council tax hikes averaging more than £300 a year under Labour plans to scrap discounts for single people, the Tories alleged last night. New Tory analysis of proposals for a local “progressive property tax” floated by a Labour policy discussion group showed retired households would be hardest hit by the levy. But Labour insiders distanced themselves from the plan, insisting the measure will not be included in the party’s general election manifesto due to be published by Jeremy Corbyn tomorrow. The row erupted when the Tories seized a Labour policy paper, Land For The Many, published earlier this year that recommended a local “progressive property tax” targeted at homeowners to replace council tax. It suggested that the new tax should be designed to discourage people living from alone in large homes. Tory analysis showed that pensioners, including many widows and widowers, would be disproportionately affected by ending council levy discounts for single people because they were more likely to be living alone.” – Daily Express

While viewers threaten to boycott Sky News election coverage with Bercow

“john Bercow will join Sky News for its general election night coverage on December 12, leading many enraged voters to threaten to switch over to rival broadcasters. But what are your plans, will you watch the former Speaker give his thoughts as the national poll results emerge? The former House of Commons Speaker will join Dermot Murnaghan to give his take on the election results as they unfold live on air. Sky News hope John Bercow, who recently stepped down after a ten year stint in the role, will bring “authority and wit” to the broadcaster’s coverage on December 12. But the decision to bring Mr Bercow on board has infuriated the British public, with many threatening to boycott the broadcaster that night. The former Speaker became highly controversial towards the end of his tenure, as he was accused of siding with Remainers during crucial Brexit debates. For example, he allowed a motion to vote on the Benn Bill, which eventually passed into law and forced the Prime Minister to seek a Brexit delay from the EU. This led to accusations he was “unilaterally changing the rules” to allow Tory Remainers to take control of the Commons.” – Daily Express

‘Largest maternity scandal in NHS history’

“Dozens of babies and three mothers died on the wards of a single hospital trust, in what is being described as the largest maternity scandal in the history of the NHS, The Independent can reveal. Clinical malpractice was allowed to continue unchecked over a period of 40 years, with repeated failings by doctors, midwives and hospital bosses, according to a leaked internal report. The investigation singles out the deaths of at least 42 babies and three mothers at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust (SATH) between 1979 and 2017. More than 50 children also suffered permanent brain damage after being deprived of oxygen during birth, the investigation discovered, as well as identifying 47 other cases of substandard care. A senior NHS source told The Independent: “I think you can say with absolute confidence this is the largest known maternity scandal in the UK – significantly larger than Morecambe Bay – and early findings show dozens of avoidable deaths.” In total, more than 600 cases are now being examined, and with hundreds still to be looked at, the toll is expected to grow. The Independent has learnt deaths and injuries were still being reported to the panel up to the end of 2018.” – The Independent
Former health secretary Hunt responds – Twitter

  • And dozens of babies and mothers die in ‘worst-ever’ maternity scandal – The Sun
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