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Tory lead narrows in latest poll, as Johnson admits ‘it’s very tight’

“Boris Johnson has said that the election is “very, very tight” as the latest YouGov poll for The Times finds the Conservatives maintaining a nine-point lead but Jeremy Corbyn’s ratings rising. The Labour leader has put on six points since the start of the campaign, with 26 per cent now saying that he would make the best prime minister. Mr Johnson is still ahead on 41 per cent, down from 43 per cent before the election was called. Overall, 42 per cent are intending to vote Conservative and 33 per cent Labour, both down one point on last week. The Liberal Democrats are also down one point to 12 per cent and the Brexit Party up two points to 4 per cent. Speaking on a visit to Salisbury, Mr Johnson said: “It’s a very, very tight election. It will go to the wire.” The Conservative poll lead stood at 17 points in mid-November. Asked if he was worried that his advantage was slipping away, Mr Johnson said: “Of course this election is going to go to the wire. It’s very important everyone recognises the starkness of the choice. We can either go forward, get Brexit done and unleash the potential of this country, or else we can have Groundhog Day with two more referendums and chaos and paralysis in parliament.” – The Times

  • Kremlin will remain frosty whoever wins – The Times
  • Johnson’s hardline on terrorist sentencing has voter appeal – The Times
  • Bishop Auckland weighs a once unthinkable Tory revolution – The Guardian
  • The PM on the campaign trail – The Sun
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NATO summit 1) Trump says he will ‘stay out’ of election but praises ‘very capable’ Johnson…

“Mr Trump said next week’s election was “a very important election for this great country”, but said he had “no thoughts on it”, just weeks after expressing his personal affection for the Prime Minister in an interview with Nigel Farage. He stressed he had “won a lot of elections for a lot of people” by endorsing them, but would not do the same for Mr Johnson this week. “I don’t want to complicate it,” he said. A meeting with Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary general, on the first day of Mr Trump’s trip to the UK was meant to be a so-called “grip and grin” photo opportunity. But the US president answered questions for almost an hour on topics from the Duke of York to North Korea. “I’ve won virtually every race that I’ve participated in. But this is a different country,” Mr Trump said. He then appeared to support Mr Johnson anyway, explaining how he is a “fan of Brexit”. “I think Boris is very capable and I think he’ll do a good job,” he said. “You know that I was a fan of Brexit. I called it the day before.” – Daily Telegraph

  • He also rebukes Macron over ‘nasty’ jibe at Nato alliance – The Times
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NATO summit 2) …And he says ‘he wants nothing to do with NHS’, as he meets PM

“Donald Trump said he wanted “nothing to do” with the NHS as he dismissed claims by Labour that the health service could be for sale in a post-Brexit trade deal. The US president said the NHS would not be on the table during US-UK trade talks even if “you handed it to us on a silver platter”. Mr Johnson spent most of the day steering clear of Mr Trump in order to avoid giving Labour the chance to criticise him over his relationship with the president. But the two met at Buckingham Palace last night before Mr Trump and other Nato leaders attended a Downing Street reception. Mr Johnson was so keen to minimise the number of photographs of himself with Mr Trump that he left the president and his wife Melania in the cold outside No  10 when they arrived. Mr Johnson insisted he would press ahead with a digital services tax if the Tories were re-elected, despite the threat of Mr Trump imposing tariffs on British goods, as he did with the French. Mr Johnson said he “deplores” trade wars in a statement interpreted as a defiant message to Mr Trump.” – Daily Telegraph

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Johnson says ‘we’ll make tech giants pay more tax’

“Boris Johnson has risked a rift with Donald Trump by suggesting that he will push ahead with a tax on technology giants such as Google and Facebook to ensure that they make a “fairer contribution”. The US president has threatened France with £1.9 billion of retaliatory tariffs on products including champagne and cheese after it introduced a “digital services tax”. Mr Johnson last night signalled that the Conservatives still intend to introduce a similar tax in April by applying a 2 per cent levy on the revenues of tech companies in Britain. He has been warned by his ministers that the proposal could derail post-Brexit trade talks with the United States. He said: “I do think we need to look at the operation of the big digital companies and the huge revenues they have in this country and the amount of tax that they pay. We need to sort that out. They need to make a fairer contribution.” Many American tech giants pay little tax in Europe because they channel sales through Ireland, Luxembourg and other countries with favourable tax regimes. Such schemes are legal but have angered traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers who say that they are being unfairly undercut.” – The Times

Tories promise £4bn for public transport in Midlands and North

“The Conservatives have promised to commit more than £4bn to a fund for new bus and metro rail links in cities around England as the party competes with Labour over the improvement of public transport outside London. A devolved local public transport fund would get an allocation of £4.2bn, with more promised as part of a wider Conservative commitment to spend £100bn on infrastructure. It would be open to bids from eight mayoral or combined authorities: Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, West Midlands, North East, Tees Valley, West Yorkshire, Sheffield City Region and West of England. A Conservative statement said that, while mayors and other local leaders would make the decisions over how to spend the money, projects that the fund was “expected to help” included a light rail system around West Yorkshire, and an expansion to Greater Manchester’s Metrolink trams to Stockport and Bolton. Other mooted projects included upgrades to the Tyne and Wear metro, extending the West Midlands tram system, new or improved rail services around Sheffield, Liverpool and Bristol, and money to improve bus services in all the eight areas.” – The Guardian

Labour 1) Russia won’t deny hackers leaked Corbyn’s NHS documents

“The Kremlin has fuelled the growing row around leaked government documents published by Labour as it failed to deny the involvement of Russian hackers. Senior MPs have called for an urgent investigation into how Labour obtained the classified information amid growing evidence linking the leak to Moscow. Jeremy Corbyn hinted yesterday that he had downloaded minutes of US-UK trade talks from a website where investigators increasingly believe it had been placed by Russia. The Kremlin failed to deny being behind the leak yesterday as it used the row to mock Boris Johnson by suggesting it was being used to distract attention from his “own problems”. Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative Party leader, said it was now imperative that the Cabinet Office should launch an investigation to find out how the documents found their way online and into Mr Corbyn’s hands. He said: “We must get to the bottom of this. If there is any possibility of Russian interference in this process that needs to come out, and there is no question in my mind that the Cabinet Office needs to look at this very quickly.” Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, said it was “not possible to comment seriously” on allegations that Russian hackers obtained the documents and put them online, as he stopped short of issuing a denial. He said fingers tended to be pointed at Russian hackers “in order to distract attention from one’s own problems”. – Daily Telegraph

  • Corbyn left humiliated after failing to confront Trump over NHS trade deal – The Sun
  • Labour’s spending plans would plunge Britain into recession worse than 2008, warn economists – Daily Telegraph
  • But Labour plan to tackle ‘rip-off Britain would save families £6,700’ – The Guardian
  • And Labour promises football fans a say over their club’s choice of manager – Daily Telegraph
  • Abbott’s son accused of assaulting police officer outside Foreign Office – Daily Telegraph
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Labour 2) Corbyn apologises for anti-semitism in Labour

“The Labour leader refused four times to apologise in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil, which came on the day the chief rabbi wrote in The Times that Mr Corbyn’s handling of the allegations made him “unfit for high office”. In a testy exchange with Phillip Schofield on ITV’s This Morning, Mr Corbyn was again repeatedly asked to apologise to British Jews and ultimately did. Asked if he would apologise, Mr Corbyn began saying: “Our party . . . can I make it clear”, at which point Schofield interrupted to say: “Just say sorry.” Mr Corbyn replied: “Wait a minute, I and our party . . .” before Schofield again interjected: “Just say sorry.” The Labour leader then asked: “Can I say something?” to which Schofield answered: “Well, I want you to say sorry.” At this point Mr Corbyn said: “Our party and me do not accept antisemitism in any form,” prompting Schofield to ask: “So are you sorry for anything that’s happened”, to which the Labour leader responded: “Obviously I’m very sorry for everything that has happened. But I want to make this very clear: I am dealing with it, I have dealt with it, other parties are also affected by antisemitism.” – The Times

SNP plans mean ‘more austerity than under the Tories’, says IFS

“Implementing the SNP’s general election manifesto in an independent Scotland would lead to deeper austerity than under Conservative plans for UK spending, a leading economic think tank has said. The first analysis by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that without new taxes to balance the SNP’s proposed giveaways, taxes would have to rise or further cuts would be needed elsewhere. And the respected think tank, which last week warned that both Tory and Labour spending plans are “not credible”, concluded that the SNP’s effort was focused on independence rather than tackling the “problematic” question of setting out a costed plan for government. IFS associate director David Phillips said that unlike its previous general election manifestos, and those produced by other main parties this year, the SNP has not provided detailed costings or tax plans.“ – The Scotsman

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  • Immigration crackdown ‘spells disaster for NHS’ – The Times
  • Family of Usman Khan say they are ‘shocked and saddened’ by atrocity – Daily Telegraph
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