Newslinks for Saturday 7th December 2019

TV Debate 1) Poll finds Johnson beats Corbyn in their final clash

“Jeremy Corbyn was confronted over his support for the IRA on Friday night and forced to deny he had plans to disband MI5 as he and Boris Johnson clashed for the final time before the general election. The Prime Minister was applauded as he said he would not be “lectured” on the Union by a man who had spent “all his political life” campaigning to break it up, as well as backing those attempting “violently to destroy it.” A week after the London Bridge terrorist attack, Mr Corbyn was repeatedly challenged over his past meetings with terrorists and his record on law and order. Mr Johnson also said the Labour leader was guilty of “a failure of leadership” by not having a position on Brexit, “the greatest issue facing our country”. The two men vying for Number 10 went head to head for the second and final time before the election in a BBC debate in Maidstone, Kent. A snap poll of viewers made Mr Johnson the winner by 52 per cent to 48 – ironically the same division as in the EU referendum three years ago.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Viewers judge Corbyn “very weak” on security – The Sun
  • No clear winner as leaders stick to the script – The Times
  • Leaked paper “negates PM’s Northern Ireland claims” – The Guardian

>Today:

TV Debate 2) Labour leader challenges the PM over “racist remarks”

“Jeremy Corbyn accused Boris Johnson of having made “racist remarks” as the pair clashed over Islamophobia and antisemitism in their parties, in a crucial head-to-head debate, less than a week before polling day. Corbyn made the allegation during the BBC One leaders’ debate on Friday as he defended himself against Johnson’s charge that his handling of antisemitism complaints within Labour was a “failure of leadership”. After setting out what his party has done to address antisemitism, Corbyn implied Johnson had failed to tackle Islamophobia in the Conservatives and had used racist language himself.” – The Guardian

  • Tories investigate three candidates over alleged antisemitism – The Guardian
  • 30 Labour candidates accused of anti-Semitism, defending colleagues or downplaying problem, analysis suggests – Daily Telegraph

TV Debate 3) Brexit “mystery deal” is mocked

“Jeremy Corbyn found himself in the hot seat during the BBC’s Election Debate when Boris Johnson attacked the Labour Party’s Brexit plan. The Opposition party have proposed they will negotiate a new Brexit deal in three months and put it to the public in a second referendum within six. The Prime Minister said: “What I want to know from the leader of the Labour Party is this deal he thinks he can get in three months time, who is going to negotiate it?” He continued: “Because as far as I can see, everybody on the Labour frontbench is campaigning to Remain, apart from Mr Corbyn who is neutral on the matter.”Who is going to secure this deal? How can you get a new deal from Brussels for Brexit if you don’t actually believe in it? That’s the mystery.” –  Daily Express

  • Corbyn’s Brexit plan is ludicrous – Leader, The Sun

TV Debate 4) Pundits give their verdicts

“This was it. Jeremy Corbyn’s last chance. Barring some unforeseen disaster in the final week – say, Boris Johnson getting trapped in a lift for six hours with Andrew Neil, Eddie Mair, James O’Brien and a Channel 4 News camera crew – the Tories were probably home and dry. So the Labour leader had to make tonight’s TV debate count. Pressure. Big pressure. Did he live up to it? Well. I suppose he started decently enough. At any rate, he sounded calm and reasonable, which at least makes a change from the tetchy, resentful spluttering we so often see from him in the Commons. Promising. But the Labour leader needed to capitalise. He needed to get stuck in. Throw the kitchen sink at the Prime Minister. Launch into an all-out onslaught. Sadly for him, and for his supporters, it never came.” – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

 

  • Johnson’s best performance saw off Jeremy Corbyn and his Santa-sack of freebies – Camilla Tominey, Daily Telegraph
  • Tory spin machine breathes easy after meltdown-free debate – Financial Times
  • Stultifying bout had viewers on the ropes – Quentin Letts, The Times
  • Corbyn didn’t even attempt to deny his support for the IRA – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • I sat there wishing that Corbyn would hit even harder on Johnson’s lies – Owen Jones, The Guardian
  • Possibly a score draw – The Guardian

Major backs former Conservatives standing as independents

“Sir John Major has urged people to re-elect three MPs who were expelled from the Conservatives for voting against Boris Johnson over Brexit. The ex-Tory PM is backing independent candidates David Gauke, Dominic Grieve and Anne Milton, all running against his party in the general election. Sir John said “tribal loyalties” had been loosened by Brexit. But Mr Johnson described the comments as “very sad” and “wrong”, calling his predecessor’s views “outdated”. The Conservatives say they will take the UK out of the EU in January if they win a parliamentary majority.” – BBC

>Yesterday:Video: Major – vote for Gauke, Grieve and Milton

US/UK trade talks leaked document “linked to Russia”

“Leaked documents detailing UK-US trade talks were posted on Reddit by an account linked to a campaign “originating from Russia”, the online message board has said. In a post on Friday, the site said it had suspended 61 accounts that were part of a co-ordinated effort. The papers had their first wide burst of public attention when unveiled in the election campaign by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. He claimed they show the NHS is “for sale” and Labour says their release was in the public interest. The Conservative Party, which denies the NHS would be on the table during trade talks with the US, declined to comment on Reddit’s announcement. Reddit’s post did not provide any further details about the evidence behind its conclusions.” – BBC

  • Every dirty trick in the book – Daily Express
  • Ex-British intelligence officers warn of a hard-left extremist network – The Sun
  • Senior diplomat quits – Daily Mail

Tory hostility to the broadcast media grows

“Leading broadcasters have been accused of letting a “sense of entitlement” drive “hysterical” rows with politicians as the Conservatives turned their fire on the BBC and Channel 4. Senior media figures warned that broadcasters risked breaching their obligation to remain impartial during the election by attempting to embarrass leaders into granting interviews. It came after the prime minister rejected a televised appeal by Andrew Neil to submit to an interview…The Tories responded by saying that the format was “tired and broken”…Channel 4 News was also accused of smearing Mr Johnson yesterday by claiming that he had referred to immigrants as “people of colour” in a speech when he had said “people of talent”. Channel 4 said that it had written to the prime minister to apologise but a Tory source claimed that it proved the channel was campaigning against Brexit.” – The Times

Pledge to end ban on imperial measures

“Boris Johnson has revealed plans to bring back pounds and ounces once Brexit is done as he attacks Jeremy Corbyn as ‘the most extreme Left-wing candidate produced by the Labour Party in a century’ entering Number 10. In a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Mail, the Prime Minister laid out his post-election blueprint to lift the EU ban on imperial measurements and hark back to the old system. He said: ‘We will bring back that ancient liberty. I see no reason why people should be prosecuted.’ The Conservative leader added: ‘I think the reality is a lot of people are now educated in the metric system, we have to recognise that. ‘But people… I understand what a pound of apples is. I also understand what a kilo of apples is. ‘There will be an era of generosity and tolerance towards traditional measurements.’ ” – Daily Mail

Bid for England to host the 2030 World Cup

“Boris Johnson is backing Britain’s bid to bring football home in the 2030 World Cup. The Prime Minister promises to “put our Government machine at the heart” of the ambitious move to host the tournament.If we are selected it would be the first time since England won the World Cup in 1966. Writing in The Sun today Mr Johnson, pictured left playing in an England legends game,  pledges £550million to overhaul football pitches. The money would go on building 2,000 new astro-turf pitches and fixing  20,000 current grass ones. It is the biggest injection of cash ever made into the sport at grassroots level.” – The Sun

  • It’s time the football World Cup came home – Boris Johnson, The Sun

Support for Scottish independence falls

“Support for independence is waning in Scotland and swinging behind the Union despite the SNP’s election push, an exclusive poll for The Times has revealed. Fifty-six per cent of voters say they want to stay in the UK versus 44 per cent in favour of separation, according to YouGov. In the 2014 independence referendum, 55 per cent of Scots voted “no” and 45 per cent voted “yes”. Nicola Sturgeon has put independence at the heart of the SNP’s general election campaign. She said that no party leader seeking her support in the event of a hung parliament should “bother picking up the phone” if they were not going agree to a second referendum taking place in the second half of next year. Her party is still on course to win an increased share of the vote and boost its number of MPs, according to poll results published yesterday. The future of the UK appeared in the balance when YouGov’s last survey was carried out in September: 49 per cent of Scots planned to vote “yes” in a future referendum and 51 per cent “no”.” – The Times

>Yesterday: MPsETC: Election Battlegrounds 11) Scotland

Northern Ireland voters worried about the health service

“Northern Ireland is the story of two elections. The first is the one that politicians are fighting. In places it is ugly: A sectarian contest between unionism and nationalism skimpily dressed up as Brexit. It has threats, intimidation and a tribal demand that voters to show their loyalty to Orange or Green. Vote Orange to protect the Union and Brexit. Vote Green for Europe and the potential of a united Ireland. The second is the election that many voters want this contest to be about and that comes up time and again unprompted in the street. Northern Ireland’s health service is facing a catastrophic breakdown. Out of a population of 1.9 million people more than 100,000 have been waiting for a hospital appointment for over a year. In England (pop 59.58 million) the figure is less than 2,000.” – The Times

Moore: This election could turn out to be as pivotal as 1945 or 1979

“Some people see voting Conservative as a “safety first” option. This is always a big part of Tory support. But the key to understanding next week’s vote is that it is not to protect any status quo. It is about how best to guide the enormous change that has already begun. I said earlier that no general election this century has been pivotal. That is true, but one popular vote has been – the Leave result in 2016. It was the most comprehensive democratic repudiation of our establishments that this country has known…The logic is that Taking Back Control (the Leave slogan of 2016) means Getting Brexit Done. At last we shall have a government aligned with the change for which people voted. Their decision in the biggest vote for anything ever in British history will have been fulfilled…Once we have done that, the logic of taking back control can spread…The ever-growing plethora of “independent” commissions regulated by officials who interpose their bodies between electors and elected could be countered. We would have at last the chance to get back to our pre-EU arrangements in which the words “parliamentary” and “democracy” went together.” – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Forsyth: Do you really want another election in February?

“Another hung Parliament would be more of the same: Parliamentary gridlock and no progress. What would a Parliament without a majority for any party be able to agree on beyond a second referendum? It is not even certain it could do that. You would need a government for a second referendum and Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat leader, has said she would rather have another election than put either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn into No10. So we may well all be heading to the polls again in February if there is no clear result this time. Even if they could unite on a second referendum, they wouldn’t be able to agree on much else. It would be a single-issue government, to the detriment of everything else.” – James Forsyth, The Sun

  • Brexit message is resonating in Essex – The Guardian
  • TV turns reveal the spin doctors’ party favourites – The Times

>Yesterday:

Parris: Johnson is making cynics of us all

“I remember a Spectator dinner for a Frenchwoman, a would-be candidate for the Paris mayoralty, many years ago. Johnson (a former editor of the magazine) was there, as was (I think) George Osborne. Most forcibly do I remember noting Johnson’s technique. Though in a large group around a table, he will catch your eye, hold your gaze a second and give you what I can only describe as a virtual wink. There’s a hint of laughter in his eyes and the virtual wink, which appears to be for you alone, is, in a way that’s hard to describe, confiding. It says “you and I, Matt, can see the funny side of all this”. One is invited to join his club. “We are insiders, we two,” he seems to say. It’s strangely flattering and he does it to anyone he knows a bit and who he thinks might matter.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

News in brief

  • David Gauke’s experience is a warning to US Republicans not to attack Trump – Henry Olsen, Washington Post
  • Second referendums are not a good idea – John Redwood
  • The Conservatives are harnessing the Leave vote far better than Labour are doing with Remainers – Matthew Goodwin, Brexit Central
  • Only Brexit voters can save Nigel Farage from himself now – Patrick O’Flynn, The Spectator
  • Would the Neil interview be worse for  Johnson than dodging it? – Sean O’Grady, Independent

 

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