Just when he thought the UK was out, they pull him back in … Jeremy Corbyn’s efforts to edge out of the Brexit shadow by ruling out a second referendum and talking about things we used to talk about in election campaigns, such as schools, have run up against yet more Brexit news.
Leaked EU negotiating guidelines show – quelle surprise – that the bloc of 27 isn’t quite on board with Theresa May’s talk of unity. Instead it wants the UK to honour billions in budget commitments, guarantee lifelong rights for EU citizens in Britain, and stay bound to the European court of justice – the last a direct staredown with May’s promise to “bring an end to the jurisdiction of the court in Britain”.
There’s an (EU-regulated) carrot along with that stick, though, with an assurance from Antonio Tajani, president of the European parliament, that he and “everybody … would be very happy” if the UK wanted a European reunion.
May herself will need to talk about something other than Brexit mandates and STRONG. STABLE. LEADERSHIP. at some point soon. Rowena Mason takes you through what’s likely to get top billing in May’s June manifesto. The prime minister has already renewed her commitment to squish net migration down to the tens of thousands, despite the Home Office failure to get anywhere close to such a figure under the stewardship of home secretary T. May.
New policies to fill the occasional gaps in the political agenda for the next couple of years are being sought, with May asking Tory MPs to send their suggestions to No 10. Results of recent crowdsourcing efforts would suggest the official Conservative manifesto will now be entitled Tory McToryface.
The Brexit eddy plays neatly into the hands of Tim Farron, who oversees the official launch of the Liberal Democrat campaign today in Manchester. He’ll get a fillip too from news that Surrey’s Labour group could be set to back a Lib Dem contender in an effort to oust Tory Jeremy Hunt from his seat. Although Farron – along with Corbyn – has rejected a Green entreaty to form a progressive alliance, he presumably won’t look a gift health secretary in the mouth.
At a glance:
- Here’s what the Greens promised at their election launch on Thursday.
- Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is under fire over her support for the child tax credit form ‘rape clause’.
- Today could see a result in another election: to be general secretary of Unite union. Len McCluskey, a key Corbyn ally, is hoping to see off Gerard Coyne – who was yesterday suspended from his union role before the ballots were even totted up.
- Alan Travis analyses what Ukip is actually for in this post-Brexit election.
- If you’d like to read Nigel Farage in his own words on why he’s not standing in the election: fill your union flag brogues over at the Telegraph.
Today’s polls disclaimer comes courtesy of Corbyn, who said yesterday of his own current ratings:
All I can say is, in 2015, almost exactly two years ago, I was given 200-1 as an outside chance.
The Financial Times poll tracker – which collects the most recent surveys from seven pollsters – has the Conservatives on 45%, Labour on 26%, Lib Dems on 10%, Ukip on 9%, SNP on 5% and the Greens on 4%.
The Britain Elects poll of polls has the Tories ahead of Labour – as they have been since May 2015 – by, at last count, 42.4% to 26.1%.
- From 10.15am, Jeremy Corbyn starts in Swindon, then to Bristol, winding up in Cardiff where he’ll give a stump speech on schools.
- At 10.30am Nicola Sturgeon launches the SNP’s local election manifesto (they’re on 4 May).
- 3pm sees Tim Farron officially kicking off the Lib Dem election campaign, in Manchester.
- Theresa May of Mystery will be out somewhere as yet undisclosed.
- Meanwhile, chancellor Philip Hammond is in Washington DC for IMF spring meetings.
The Labour leader is off to Cardiff today, where he wants to talk education (though presumably not in triplicate). With 40,000 primary pupils in England and Wales being taught in classes of more than 36 pupils – and 16,600 in classes of over 40 – Corbyn will warn that children are being “crammed into classrooms like sardines”.
His trip to Wales has been labelled “a massive own goal” by the Conservatives, who point out that the number of infant pupils in plus-sized classes there has risen by 18% in the last three years. Labour leads the Welsh administration, though it does so, as the largest minority party, courtesy of support from sole Lib Dem assembly member – and education secretary – Kirsty Williams.
An editorial in the Economist – which urged a vote for remain in last year’s referendum – argues that the election could lead to a “less damaging Brexit”:
With a larger majority [May] can more easily stand up to her ultra-Eurosceptic backbenchers, some of whom seem actively to want Britain to crash out. That explains why the pound rose this week.
The election also buys Mrs May time. Holding a vote this year means that she need not face the polls again until 2022, three years after Britain’s formal exit from the EU. Avoiding the pressure of an imminent contest at home will further strengthen her against the headbanging fringe of her own party and the right-wing press, which screams treachery at any hint of the compromises needed to secure a deal with the EU.
In the Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff weighs in on the “does earning £70,000 make you rich?” row:
Counterintuitive as it sounds, there’s a risk for Labour in jumping aboard the current posh-bashing wagon which doesn’t necessarily apply to other parties. As Gordon Brown’s pollster Deborah Mattinson has argued, when focus groups were asked about his desire to raise taxes on the rich, they didn’t balk at the definition of ‘rich’ or even at the risk that one day they might be eligible. They just complained that it was old-fashioned: it reminded them of 70s Labour.
The paradox is that raising taxes may scream ‘politics of yesterday’ to voters Labour needs to win over, when in many ways the idea has never been so contemporary. Crumbling public services, a mountain of debt to repay, and an ageing nation of pensioners with a post-Brexit aversion to letting young, taxpaying foreigners move here all adds up to one logical conclusion: tax rises loom almost regardless of who wins in June.
Over at the Times, Michael Gove – who stood against May for the keys to No 10 – offers some thoughts on what her first manifesto could contain:
I expect the manifesto to be distinctly unglamorous, indeed anti-glamour, and all the better for that. I would expect more emphasis on improving technical education and renewed focus on those overlooked parts of the country where educational opportunity still lags far behind the capital. I would also expect policies to boost productivity, including changes to corporate governance as part of a strengthened industrial strategy focused on boosting employment outside the southeast. I think we might also see an assault on establishment glitz: Lords reform, changes to the honours system, heightened probity in appointments and the exercise of patronage.
Revelation of the day
A snap election is guaranteed to cause a few scrambles – candidates finding seats; dusting down printing presses; bumping PE classes from polling stations – but here’s a fresh one: the “rolling manifesto”.
Brent MP Dawn Butler told BBC Newsnight late on Thursday that Labour might not show the whole of its hand just yet:
There will be things, I’m sure, that we will want to put into the manifesto that we won’t be able to put in just yet, so the manifesto may even be a rolling manifesto, in that there’ll be other things coming in at the end.
I’ll allow you a short break here to set your iCalendars for a June policy surprise.
The day in a tweet
— Matthew Goodwin (@GoodwinMJ) April 20, 2017
And another thing
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