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Johnson suggests he could scrap the TV licence fee

“The BBC licence fee is outdated and could be axed, Boris Johnson said yesterday. He hinted that the broadcaster, which has clashed with the Conservatives during the election campaign, faces a big shake-up if he wins power. The Prime Minister said he was looking at whether it made long-term sense to impose a £154.50 annual levy on all homes with TV sets. His chief adviser Dominic Cummings is leading a review of the BBC’s funding. As an initial step, the licence fee could be decriminalised, ending the corporation’s power to prosecute non-payers. Mr Johnson said the enforcement regime, which leads to a small number of offenders being jailed, was ‘heavy-handed’. Sources said Mr Cummings was also examining whether the licence fee should be scrapped entirely. This would force the BBC to take advertising or switch to a subscription model like Netflix.” – Daily Mail

  • Hint delights workers – The Sun
  • BBC fears as young jump ship for streaming rivals – The Times
  • Reform is needed – Andy Silvester, City AM

HS2 and Heathrow third runway in doubt

“Boris Johnson cast doubt on two big transport projects as he entered the final leg of the election campaign, saying he still wanted to lie down in front of the bulldozers at Heathrow and that the case for HS2 deserved further scrutiny. Asked whether he would support the third runway, he said: “Heathrow is a private-sector project which is yet to satisfy obligations it has to meet on air quality and noise pollution.” He went on to address his famous vow that he would physically block its construction, telling LBC: “I don’t see much sign of any bulldozers yet . . . I would have to find some way of honouring that promise. It might be technically difficult to achieve.” MPs voted by a large majority last year to back the airport expansion…Discussing the future of HS2, he pointed out it was being reviewed and said: “When you’re talking about north of £100 billion it’s only responsible to ask if it’s being sensibly spent.” He suggested the cost could rise to £100 billion after being reminded that the estimated figure is £88 billion.” – The Times

CCHQ memo warns of seat losses due to tactical voting

“Jeremy Corbyn is “much closer” to becoming prime minister than voters think because he could get into Downing Street without winning a single extra seat, a Tory party memo has warned. The memo, dated Dec 7, says the chances of a Corbyn-led coalition have been “seriously underestimated”, as gains of just 12 seats by the SNP, Liberal Democrats and other minor parties would be enough to remove Boris Johnson from No 10. Internal Tory polling says a hung parliament would be the result of “as little as a 1 to 2 per cent movement in the current vote in a handful of seats”. Remain campaigners have calculated that just 40,000 strategically targeted votes spread across marginal constituencies would be enough to swing the result in Mr Corbyn’s favour.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Tactical voting leads to first circle of hell – The Times
  • It is no time to go in circles – Dominic Raab, Daily Telegraph
  • This election is an unpopularity contest – Rachel Sylvester, The Times
  • Under-30s question politicians in TV debate – BBC

>Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment: Would victories for Johnson and Trump herald the triumph of conservatism?

Prime Minister criticised for putting ITV reporter’s mobile phone in his pocket…

“Boris Johnson has been criticised after initially refusing to look at a picture of a sick four-year-old boy who had to sleep on the floor of a Leeds hospital. The picture in the Daily Mirror of Jack, who had suspected pneumonia, spurred complaints about NHS cuts. An ITV reporter tried to show Mr Johnson the picture on his phone, but he refused to look, before taking the device and putting it in his pocket. He later looked and returned the phone. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “He just doesn’t care”, while Independent Group for Change leader Anna Soubry called his actions “appalling”…Health Secretary Matt Hancock later visited the hospital to speak to management about the case.” – BBC

  • General election 2019: Boris Johnson’s bad day shows election not over – Laura Kuenssberg, BBC

…then followed by mistaken claim of Hancock’s aide being punched

“The incident escalated when Matt Hancock, the health secretary, was dispatched to Leeds General Infirmary in an effort to show that the party was taking the case seriously. But Johnson’s team ended up trying to deflect the story on to Labour by wrongly briefing that a Tory aide was “punched” outside the hospital by a leftwing activist. The claims quickly turned out to be untrue when video footage showed that the adviser was accidentally brushed in the face…Hancock and his aide were both heckled, with people shouting, “Shame on you”, “We do not want you in this country” and “You are not welcome in this hospital” as they both walked to a waiting car, but a source present at the scene said they had seen no sign of the incident described by Tory aides.” – The Guardian

Sugar endorses the Conservatives

“Apprentice boss Lord Sugar today urges Labour voters to fire Jeremy Corbyn for the sake of the nation. Writing in The Sun, the former Labour peer insists backing Boris Johnson is the only way Britain can escape its Brexit quagmire.He also says a vote for the Tories is the best route to save Labour in the long-term — by ousting its hapless leader. The business tycoon warned the party’s spending plans “would create economic chaos”. He said: “Jeremy Corbyn has turned Labour into a negative anti-business party that is clueless on how the economy works. His £1.2trillion spending splurge is complete madness.” Dubbing it “the most significant election in my lifetime”, he writes: “As a former Jewish Labour man, this is a difficult thing for me to write. On Thursday, it’s time for Sun readers to tell Corbyn to resign and get a sensible person to take the helm and make Labour great again.” – The Sun

  • Corbyn’s insane economic agenda would lead to calamity for the many, not the few – Charles Dunstone, Daily Telegraph
  • Big tech companies risk being broken up, John McDonnell warns – The Times
  • 100 days that would plunge Britain into the abyss – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail
  • John Caudwell: Wealthy ‘will flee Britain if Labour wins’ election – The Times

>Today: Roderick Crawford on Comment: Corbyn’s ‘free’ broadband would soon became a weapon against freedom of expression online

Johnson mimics Love Actually scene in Conservative election video

“Boris Johnson features in the Tory Party’s latest vote Conservative election video playing the role of Mark from the famous placard door scene. Rather than a confession of love however, Mr Johnson implores the resident to vote for the Conservative Party to get Brexit done. Mr Johnson argued the upcoming December election is crucial in getting Brexit done in 2020. Mr Johnson warned that a vote for any other party than the Tories could see “the other guy” win the election. Without uttering a word the Prime Minister continued to insist that a hung Parliament would also result in more gridlock.” – Daily Express

  • No escape from the dodgy election ad blitz – Hugo Rifkind, The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Five videos that show how much the Conservatives’ online campaign has improved

>Yesterday: WATCH: Johnson on the road amongst Jewish voters

Labour’s plans for new Quangos “would cost £13.2 billion”

“Jeremy Corbyn will create more than 100 new quangos costing taxpayers £13.2billion, it was claimed last night. Tory analysts warned it will mean every taxpayer is slapped with a £425 bill over the next five years to fund Labour’s bloated bureaucracy and vanity projects.Labour bosses have vowed to create a flood of new state boards to decide on nearly all areas of life including wages, the sale of land and the role of women. Treasury Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Corbyn’s new quangos range from the pointless and profligate to the deeply damaging and sinister.” – The Sun

Corbyn defends election strategy

“Jeremy Corbyn has said he feels confident as the election campaign enters its final days, standing by Labour’s attacking strategy despite fears among candidates in defensive seats that they have been left exposed. In a wide-ranging interview, Corbyn said he thought Labour had “got the message out” across the six-week campaign and rejected calls to encourage tactical voting to defeat Boris Johnson. “I’m feeling very happy, very confident,” he told the Guardian…Asked how he would appeal to leave voters, Corbyn was keen to highlight the fact that Labour’s new Brexit deal, which he has promised to secure within three months, would be negotiated by a “balanced” team. That suggests Sir Keir Starmer, who has been shadow Brexit secretary for three years, would find himself accompanied by at least one leave supporter, perhaps from a seat outside London.” – Interview with Jeremy Corbyn, The Guardian

  • Enter the bearded messiah – Quentin Letts, The Times
  • All the old favourites in Bristol but no one’s dancing – John Crace, The Guardian
  • He just doesn’t wow the crowds like he used to – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

Labour candidate shared anti-semitic message about Nick Robinson

“Labour is under pressure to dump a candidate who shared a “clearly antisemitic” message about Nick Robinson. Jean Anne Mitchell, the party’s candidate in West Dunbartonshire, sent the message about the BBC presenter to a WhatsApp group, which comprised other Labour candidates, after he had hosted the head-to-head debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn on Friday night. The message reportedly read: “We watched the BBC Leadership Debate chaired by Nick Robinson. Throughout the debate we felt that Robinson gave Johnson an easy time, allowing him to avoid answering the audience’s questions and instead giving him free reign to attack Corbyn. We thought he was biased. And then we Googled him.” It added: “His mother was born in Shanghai, where her German-Jewish parents fled during the 1930s. That makes him Jewish.” The broadcaster has described himself as a “Jew by birth”, but was raised in the Church of England is now agnostic.” – Daily Telegraph

>Today: LeftWatch: Read the Jewish Labour Movement’s submission on anti-semitism in their party

Brexit Party expels activists for racist remarks

“The Brexit Party has expelled a local councillor and dismissed a part-time official after they were filmed making racist comments. The two activists were filmed by undercover reporters for Channel 4 News during campaigning in Hartlepool ahead of this Thursday’s election. Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice said his party condemned the “hideous” remarks. He added that “immediate action” had been taken. In the film, Councillor David Mincher was shown complaining that Muslims were “outbreeding us” and “live like animals”. He boasted that he once tried to bury a pig’s head under a mosque that was being built in the town – but later told the programme he made up the story “as a stupid act of showing off to your reporter”. He was also shown making derogatory remarks about Pakistanis, Somalis and Turks.” – BBC

  • We will not get Brexit done properly without the Brexit Party in Parliament – Nigel Farage, Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit Party candidate in Lincoln stands down to avoid handing seat to Labour – Daily Mail

Foster accuses the PM of breaking his word on the Union

“Boris Johnson has been accused of breaking his word over his commitment to protect the union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland by the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.As the Prime Minister faced fresh questions over trade within the UK after Brexit, Arlene Foster said Government officials had told her there would need to be checks. Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about the sense of some in the unionist community that Mr Johnson’s deal was a “betrayal”, she said: “I think it is right for the leadership of unionism in Northern Ireland to try to work with the prime minister of the day to get the best deal for Northern Ireland. “We will always do that. We will continue to do that. I think it says more about the person who broke their word than me and the leadership of the… Democratic Unionist Party.” – Belfast Telegraph

Sturgeon toughens demand for independence referendum

“Nicola Sturgeon has refused to rule out withholding the Scottish National party’s support from a Labour budget if Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister failed to give Holyrood the powers necessary to hold an independence referendum in 2020. In a further toughening of her stance, Sturgeon said she would offer SNP support to a Labour minority government only if it accepted the principle that it is for Holyrood to decide the timing of the second referendum. Asked if she could be definitive that her party would vote down a Labour budget if Corbyn refused the section 30 order needed by Holyrood to organise a vote next year, Sturgeon told the Guardian: “The principle is that the fact of and the timing of an independence referendum should be for the Scottish parliament, elected by the Scottish people, to decide.” – The Guardian

  • Scottish Conservatives set to hang on to most of their 13 seats – Financial Times

Final Welsh opinion poll shows Conservatives closing gap on Labour

“Labour is on course for a disastrous General Election 2019 , according to a new poll of Welsh voters. The latest opinion poll shows both Labour and the Conservatives are gaining support. Labour has 40 per cent support while the Conservatives have 37 per cent. If delivered on Thursday, it would be the Conservatives’ highest vote share since 1900….In his analysis of the results Prof Awan-Scully says it would be the worst performance for Labour in terms of seat numbers in Wales since 1983. At that time, there were only 38 seats, not 40 as there are now.” – Wales Online

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The next Welsh Secretary if the Conservatives win

Hague: Major and Heseltine should consider what a hung Parliament would mean

“There is no clearer sign of normal political loyalties being torn up than the calls by many of the country’s former leaders for an indeterminate outcome to this election. Tony Blair…has called for tactical voting to achieve a hung parliament. Michael Heseltine has gone further and actively campaigned for the Lib Dems. Sir John Major, one of the people I most respect in the entire political world, has been more restrained, but expressed support for those expelled Tories standing as independents. If the voters take their collective advice, we will wake up on Friday to yet another parliament with no one decisively in charge. Despite the Conservative poll leads, such an outcome could easily happen. Millions of voters are only now making up their minds.” – William Hague, Daily Telegraph

Parker: Will the real Boris Johnson please stand up?

“There is a void at the heart of Mr Johnson’s campaign where one might have expected to find policy. After Theresa May’s ambitious 2017 manifesto blew up in spectacular style, Mr Johnson’s team deliberately scaled back policy commitments. Lynton Crosby, the Australian campaign guru who has long advised Mr Johnson and is still in regular contact, regards policies as a big distraction — “Barnacles on the boat.” Jo Johnson, the prime minister’s younger brother, noted that if a manifesto was still being discussed 48 hours after its publication, you were in trouble. The Conservative manifesto at the heart of the 2019 campaign was so lifeless it was barely being discussed on the train home from the launch event in Telford, a Tory-held marginal seat in the West Midlands.” – George Parker, Financial Times

Moore: Defence is being neglected

“A data firm, Zegami, has published an analysis of all party leaders’ tweets in the first half of this election campaign. There were 764 of them, of which 414 came from either Jeremy Corbyn or Boris Johnson. Of those 764, only two tweets mentioned defence. This is the neatest proof I have so far seen of the instinctive ability of rival political parties to collude. Neither the Tories nor Labour want to talk about defence – the first because they have offered no strategy and not enough money, the second because Labour, under Mr Corbyn’s CND influence, does not believe in the armed services, except as a form of public-sector job creation. Yet our security is probably weaker than at any time since the Cold War – even, perhaps, since 1945.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Labour’s succession battle is well underway, Isabel Hardman, The Spectator
  • Write off recent student fees debt, says Green Party – Independent
  • Could the Tories ever win the black vote? – Mutaz Ahmed, Unherd
  • Labour’s refusal to respect the referendum result is losing them life-long voters in places like Crewe – Kieran Mullan, Brexit Central
  • Spineless Labour ‘moderates’ could plunge the UK into a state of Socialist extremism – Tom Harwood, Free Market Conservatives

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