Corbyn refuses four times to apologise to Jews

“Jeremy Corbyn refused four times last night to apologise to British Jews after the Chief Rabbi put Labour’s antisemitism crisis at the centre of the election campaign. The party’s leader said that Ephraim Mirvis was “not right” to say in The Times yesterday that Labour’s claim to have investigated every case was a “mendacious fiction”. He insisted that he had improved Labour’s disciplinary processes and that he was “looking forward” to talking to Rabbi Mirvis to “hear why he would say such a thing”. Repeatedly invited by Andrew Neil on the BBC to apologise to British Jews, Mr Corbyn each time declined. Instead he said he wanted to ensure that “our society will be safe for people of all faiths”. He added that racism was “a total poison” and said: “I want to work with every community to make sure it’s eliminated. That is what my whole life has been about.” The Board of Deputies of British Jews said that the refusal to apologise was shameful. Mr Corbyn was speaking after the spiritual leader of Britain’s orthodox synagogues warned that “a new poison” had taken hold in Labour “sanctioned from the very top” and questioned the Labour leader’s fitness for high office. Yesterday Rabbi Mirvis received backing from Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh leaders.” – The Times

  • Faith leaders back Chief Rabbi’s warning – The Times
  • Meet the Jewish voters who have turned back on Labour – Daily Telegraph
  • Labour activists admit Neil interview was horrific – Daily Mail
  • Jewish MP carries panic button – The Times
  • Parties ‘must tackle Islamophobia to win votes’ – The Guardian

Public finds Labour pledges unrealistic and unaffordable

“Only 17 per cent of the public think Labour’s proposals to spend an additional £82 billion are affordable and 18 per cent believe them to be realistic, according to a YouGov survey for The Times, the first survey since the manifesto launches. Although the Conservatives’ more modest spending commitments fared better, Boris Johnson’s key NHS pledge was believed by only two in ten voters. Nearly four in ten (37 per cent) believed that Mr Johnson’s plans were affordable and 35 per cent that they were realistic. Only 21 per cent, however, believed that a future Johnson administration would increase nurse numbers by 50,000 in five years, the main pledge made at the time of the Tory manifesto launch on Sunday. Publication of both main parties’ manifestos has, as in the 2017 campaign, coincided with a narrowing of the race. The YouGov survey has the Conservatives up a point on 43 per cent and Labour up two on 32 per cent. That means the Tory lead has narrowed from 12 points to 11.” – The Times

  • But surge in young voters offers Labour hope – FT
  • Labour pledge to boost staffing at violence reduction centres – The Guardian
  • Ex-Labour leader Miliband could lose seat – Daily Express

Lib Dems change tune on Brexit amid voter hostility

“The Liberal Democrats have stopped campaigning on their policy of revoking Article 50 amid concern about its unpopularity on the doorstep, and have switched to asking voters to deny Boris Johnson a majority. Activists have complained that the pledge to cancel Brexit without another vote if the party won a majority is going down badly on the doorstep as the party’s poll ratings droop. The policy was designed to offer an equally clear Remain counterpoint to Mr Johnson’s “get Brexit done” slogan but campaigners are finding it harder than expected to get a hearing from voters. One candidate said: “It hasn’t been a popular policy. People are only hearing the revoke message and say we have abandoned the People’s Vote. That’s quite a common thing. People don’t think it’s realistic. There is a difference between people being theoretically keen on revoke and the reality.” The party leadership has played down the problem, insisting that the revoke policy polled well among potential supporters when it was announced in September, and denied an assessment from one insider in the Financial Times that the mood was “concern, close to despair”. – The Times

SNP manifesto launch 1) Sturgeon pledges to ‘protect Scotland from Tories’…

“Nicola Sturgeon is to accuse Prime Minister Boris Johnson of being “dangerous and unfit for office” as she launches the SNP’s election manifesto. The SNP leader will say that a vote for her party on 12 December will be a vote to “escape Brexit and put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands”. And she will call for a big increase in funding for the NHS across the UK. She will also claim that the prime minister’s proposed Brexit deal would be a “nightmare” for Scotland. Ms Sturgeon wants to hold a second independence referendum next year. But Mr Johnson has already ruled out granting the formal consent that Ms Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, says would be needed to ensure any referendum was legal. The SNP won 35 seats at the last general election in 2017, making it the third biggest party in the UK Parliament, and the party hopes to hold the balance of power if there is a hung parliament after next month’s vote. Ms Sturgeon said: “The reality of Westminster control over Scotland is this: a right-wing Tory government Scotland didn’t vote for and a prime minister in Boris Johnson who is dangerous and unfit for office.” – BBC News

SNP manifesto launch 2) …As Tories harden stance against Scottish independence vote

“The Conservatives toughened their opposition to another Scottish independence referendum, suggesting UK governments should refuse to approve such a vote at least until the 2050s. The comments by Jackson Carlaw, interim Scottish Tory leader, underscore the party’s determination to make implacable opposition to independence the core theme of its general election campaign in Scotland. At the launch of the Scottish Conservative manifesto on Tuesday, Boris Johnson, UK prime minister and Tory leader, said he would “rule out” allowing a second vote on independence — which the Scottish National party-led government in Edinburgh is pressing for. “I can guarantee that we will reject any request from the SNP government to hold an independence referendum,” Mr Johnson wrote in his introduction to the Scottish Tory manifesto, which is titled “No to Indyref2”, a colloquial reference to such a vote. Mr Johnson left his pledge open-ended, but Mr Carlaw suggested a UK parliament would be justified in refusing another referendum for decades. Scotland voted 55-45 per cent against leaving the UK in the 2014 independence referendum organised by the SNP government. Mr Carlaw said all parties in the Edinburgh parliament should have to support a request for a so-called Section 30 approval from the UK government to hold a referendum and that he believed the Tories would refuse until “a generation” had passed since the 2014 vote.” – FT

Veterans accuse Johnson of dropping amnesty for Northern Ireland troops

“A former soldier facing trial for attempted murder has accused the Conservative Party of dropping a pledge to protect veterans from prosecution over historic allegations in Northern Ireland. The Tory Party had announced on Armistice Day that it planned to re-write the Human Rights Act to give former troops a new legal protection. But the manifesto, when it was launched this week by Boris Johnson, contained no such initiative. It instead repeated only a pledge to introduce new legislation “to tackle the vexatious legal claims that undermine our Armed Forces” – a reference to civil legal cases brought by human rights lawyers, which is separate to criminal prosecutions of former troops. Dennis Hutchings, 78, who is undergoing kidney dialysis twice a week but will go on trial for attempted murder in March next year, said: “I am absolutely disgusted with Boris Johnson over this and so are a lot of other veterans. They used Armistice Day to get lots of publicity and then it’s not in the manifesto. It is outrageous they have claimed they would do something about this and then left it out the manifesto.” “It is cynical what they have done. It looks like they were just trying to win votes on Armistice Day.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Gauke and independents take on the big battalions – The Times
  • Labour and Lib Dems outspend Tories in online battle – FT
  • Can the Brexit Party beat Labour in Hartlepool? – FT
  • End of austerity as parties turn on spending taps – FT
  • Will Tory lead narrow? – FT
  • Parents to be sent reminders to get children vaccinated – Daily Telegraph
  • Judge accuses Johnson of being ‘a risk-taker’ – The Times

Barnier dismisses chance of getting trade deal in a year

“Boris Johnson’s manifesto pledge to complete a trade deal with the European Union by the end of next year has been undermined after Michel Barnier said that time would be “too short”. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator told a confidential meeting of MEPs yesterday afternoon that if the Conservatives won the general election difficult trade talks would not be over by the deadline. “This is very difficult scenario — not much time,” he said, according to one MEP present at the meeting. “Eleven months is too short.” Caroline Voaden, leader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs, said the comments revealed that far from “getting Brexit done”, as promised by the government, “we will be talking about it for years to come”. She added: “The Conservatives’ campaign slogan lies in tatters.” If Mr Johnson wins a workable majority in 15 days the EU is preparing to begin trade talks in February, leaving 11 months to meet his manifesto promise of having a trade deal in place at the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, 2020. The government and the EU will have to decide by the end of June if the transition period needs extending, with most Brussels officials believing that at least another year will be needed.” – The Times

  • But he pledges to prioritise trade deal – FT

Charles in crisis discussions with Prince Philip

“The Prince of Wales arrived at Sandringham yesterday to discuss the continuing fall-out from Prince Andrew’s disastrous television interview with his father. Charles headed straight to the Queen’s Norfolk estate after landing in the UK from an official tour of New Zealand and the Solomon Islands to visit the elderly royal. Philip, 98, spends most of his time at Wood Farm, a small residence on the estate nowadays and it is understood that the heir to the throne will spend several days with the increasingly frail prince. Many courtiers feel that since the Queens husband, who used to rule his family with an iron fist, retired from public life, ‘discipline’ within the royal family has not been what it should be – hence Andrew’s virtually autonomous decision to go ahead with his disastrous Newsnight interview over his controversial friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. It’s is believed that Charles will seek his father’s counsel over what the family should do next as well as spend a few days together, enjoying each other’s company. Charles, 71, was in New Zealand with his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, on a hugely successful tour on behalf of the British Government when news broke about the interview. But he moved decisively with the Queen to demand that Andrew step down from public duties to deal with the scandal.” – Daily Mail

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