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Johnson to cut taxes after Brexit as he unveils plans for first 100 days

“Boris Johnson has pledged that he would hold a tax-cutting budget within weeks of Britain leaving the European Union as part of an attempt to revitalise his election campaign. The prime minister has said that he would hold a “Brexit budget” in late February as he unveiled his plans for the first 100 days of a new administration. The spending plan meets his commitment to increase the threshold at which Britons start paying national insurance to £9,500 from April, saving an average of £85 a year. The Times has also been told that it could include 15 hours of free childcare a week for two-year-olds, a policy that was considered for the manifesto last month but did not appear. Mr Johnson will outline his plans today as he tries to galvanise his party amid evidence that its lead is narrowing a week before voters go to the polls. Isaac Levido, who is running the Conservatives’ election campaign, has told staff that the final seven days of the election is like a “closing statement” in a trial, and that the party must hammer home its message. There have been concerns among Conservative Party officials that the Nato meeting paused the campaign at a critical time as undecided voters were making up their minds.” – The Times

  • Millions will get a £200 tax cut within weeks of Tories being elected – Daily Telegraph
  • PM sets out plan for Brexit vote before Christmas – FT
  • And drops hint he will block Huawei from 5G plans – The Sun
  • Tory lead slips to single digits – Daily Telegraph
  • Surge for independents as poll finds voters set to boycott main parties – Daily Telegraph
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>Today:
>Yesterday:

EU prepares for swift trade talks after Johnson victory

“EU leaders will call for a rapid start to negotiations on a post-Brexit free trade agreement at a summit in Brussels a day after the UK general election. In a sign that Brussels increasingly believes Boris Johnson will be returned to power, diplomats have drawn up draft summit conclusions calling for the “timely” ratification of the government’s withdrawal agreement. A leaked draft text prepared for the summit calls on the European Commission to draw up a comprehensive mandate for talks on a future relationship with the UK “immediately after its withdrawal”. This, it adds, should then be “swiftly” adopted by EU leaders. “Negotiations should be organised in a way that makes the best possible use of the limited time available for negotiation and ratification by the end of the transition,” the paper states. If Mr Johnson is returned to power, EU leaders are expected to begin preliminary discussions at the meeting on their approach to trade talks in the new year. Under the terms of the withdrawal agreement, if the UK leaves the EU on January 31, an 11-month transition period will begin, during which the UK will retain the benefits of membership but be formally outside the EU. If no agreement is reached by the end of the transition period, the UK faces the prospect of a no-deal departure. EU leaders are due to discuss Brexit at the summit on December 13, the day after Britain goes to the polls.” – The Times

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>Today:

Trump storms home from NATO summit

“Emmanuel Macron, Boris Johnson and Justin Trudeau have scrambled to wriggle out of their embarrassing diplomatic blunder where they mocked Donald Trump behind his back and caused the humiliated President to quit the Nato summit early. The three leaders each moved to defuse the friction with their famously thin-skinned US counterpart, who scrapped a scheduled press conference and jetted out of London tonight. Macron raged that the video – said to be captured by freelance cameraman Andy Laurence and handed to broadcasters by Nato – had surfaced at all and refused to be pressed on the gossip which was caught on hot-mic. The French premier said: ‘I am not going to comment on stolen videos. That video wasn’t supposed to be filmed in that room.’ Relations between Macron and Trump were already prickly after the French President branded Nato ‘brain dead’ – comments the US leader slammed as ‘very nasty’. The British Prime Minister pleaded ignorance when grilled by reporters about his part in the Palace gossip circle and said: ‘I really don’t know what is being referred to there.’ Asked if he had been laughing at the President, he added: ‘Complete nonsense. I don’t know where that has come from.’ – Daily Mail

  • As he gets the hump with ‘two-faced’ Trudeau – The Times
  • Divided Nato still a united voice on defence, says chief – The Times
Comment
>Yesterday:

Labour 1) 70 officials blow whistle on Labour over antisemitism

“Seventy serving and former Labour officials have turned whistleblower and given sworn statements to the official investigation into the party’s antisemitism crisis, The Times has learnt. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has been inundated with testimonies from Labour Party staff, officials on the national executive and elected representatives since it announced in May that it was investigating the party. In addition it has been sent more than 100 testimonies from party members, many Jewish, about antisemitism they say they have suffered or witnessed at party events. The evidence has been drawn together in the Jewish Labour Movement’s 47-page, 28,000 word submission to the inquiry, which The Times has seen. Despite Labour’s insistence that Jeremy Corbyn and his team have not interfered in antisemitism complaints, one whistleblower claims that they were ordered to deliver cases to the leader’s office on USB sticks.” – The Times

  • Royal event for Jewish life kept quiet – The Times

Labour 2) Free breakfasts in Labour plan to ‘poverty-proof’ schools

“The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, will on Thursday pledge to recruit 20,000 more teachers, cap secondary class sizes at 30, and spend £7bn on repairs and upgrades to England’s crumbling school buildings. As well as expanding the provision of free breakfasts to all primary schools across England to help combat hunger, Labour would also pilot free breakfasts in secondary schools and introduce a new programme of “extended schools”, in the evenings and the summer holidays, to help all children to access activities such as sport. “Rising child poverty under the Tories is an absolute scandal, and it is a disgrace that their plans will push it to a 60-year high if they win this election.“ Labour will tackle child poverty while driving up standards in schools by providing extra support to the children who need it most,” Rayner said. “Labour will invest in both our schools and the children in them, to transform the life chances of a generation being failed by the Tories.” – The Guardian

  • Labour’s £7,000 family bonus doesn’t add up, says IFS expert – The Times
  • The 55 marginal seats where Corbyn’s Brexit muddle leaves Labour vulnerable – Daily Telegraph
  • Homeless can have Chequers, declares Corbyn – The Times
  • And he suggests he does not watch the Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day – Daily Telegraph
  • Falconer urges Corbyn to go if he loses – Daily Mail
  • Labour ‘bible’ turns its back on ‘unfit’ Corbyn – The Sun
Comment
>Today:

Lib Dems 1) Swinson hints at backing Labour if Corbyn goes…

“The Liberal Democrat leader has suggested for the first time that she could work with the Labour party to stop Brexit if it removed Jeremy Corbyn as leader in the event of a hung parliament following next week’s general election. In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil, the leader of Britain’s third party repeated her pledge not to use her party’s votes to put either Mr Corbyn or Tory leader Boris Johnson in Downing Street if neither wins a majority in the House of Commons. Ms Swinson also pledged not to resign as leader if the Lib Dems lose seats in the election; the party is on just 13 per cent in the polls. She said her pro-EU party would continue to push for a second referendum in the next parliament. In the past Ms Swinson has refused to be clarify whether she would support Labour in the Commons if it changed its leader. But, pushed on whether she would abstain or vote for a minority Labour government’s agenda, in order to secure a second Brexit vote, she replied: “Look, to be honest, if Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn don’t win a majority at this election then there’s no guarantee that they’re still going to be the ones that are leading their parties a week afterwards, right?” – FT

  • Why are the Lib Dems going nowhere? – FT
  • Lib Dem leader apologises for backing coalition’s austerity policies – The Guardian
  • Swinson is putting voters off, says Opik – Daily Mail

Lib Dems 2) …And she suggests allowing votes at 16 in second referendum

“In an interview with Andrew Neil, the Liberal Democrat leader apologised four times for voting for cuts during the coalition government, as well as admitting she regrets austerity itself. Mr Neil accused her of trying to “fiddle the franchise” by supporting votes at 16, and suggested Leave supporters would see the plan as a choice between not leaving the EU and a deal that was a “version of remain”. “I’ve always supported votes at 16,” Ms Swinson said. “That’s not a new position, and indeed we have votes at 16 in Scotland for local elections, for Scottish parliament elections, for the independence referendum.” “That generation are going to be the most affected by the decision on leaving the European Union or not,” she added. Asked whether she would support a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn, Ms Swinson said neither Mr Corbyn nor Mr Johnson was “fit to be prime minister” but “there’s no guarantee that they’re still going to be the ones that are leading their parties a week afterwards”. Raising questions about whether the Liberal Democrats would demand a Labour leadership contest as the price of their support in a coalition, Ms Swinson said Mr Neil had “put Jeremy Corbyn on the spot about his actions on anti-Semitism” in last week’s interview. Ms Swinson was herself grilled by the broadcaster on four policies she would abolish that she voted for when serving as an employment minister under David Cameron from 2012-2015.” – Daily Telegraph

  • As she fights to keep Lib Dem dream alive during Andrew Neil tornado – The Times

Four Brexit Party MEPs quit and urge voters to back the Tories

“They turned their backs on Nigel Farage amid mounting fears he will rob the PM of the majority he needs to take Britain out of the EU. Former business chief John Longworth was stripped of the party whip last night for “undermining” their leader’s strategy. But the move came too late to stop his plan to torpedo Mr Farage – and possibly sink his party for good. Today his gang of four will resign and declare his decision to fight the December 12 election “a huge mistake”. At a Westminster event, they will set out in the starkest terms why a vote for the Brexit Party risks ruining everything they have worked for. It will provide a spur for BoJo but a devastating blow for Mr Farage, with his party tanking in the polls and donors fleeing like “rats off a sinking ship”. Mr Longworth was unavailable for comment last night, but an insider said: “We can’t support a party that jeopardises Brexit. “Too many people are concerned about their own egos rather that the cause we have all been campaigning for – to leave the EU. “It has become increasingly clear that unless the Tories win next week, Brexit is doomed. But some of our team are so wrapped up in their own self-interest they can’t see that.” Support for the Brexit Party has collapsed to four per cent, making it unlikely that will win any of the 274 non-Tory seats they are contesting.” – The Sun

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  • Social care crisis wastes £½m of NHS money a day – The Times
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