Corbyn Slams Johnson’s ‘Woeful’ Response to Floods: U.K. Votes

Kitty Donaldson, Alex Morales and Lucy Meakin
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Corbyn Slams Johnson’s ‘Woeful’ Response to Floods: U.K. Votes

(Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson chairs a meeting of the British government’s “Cobra” emergency committee after opposition parties accused him of downplaying the severity of flooding in northern England -- a key battleground in the election campaign. Around 400 homes have been flooded and 1,200 properties have been evacuated, according to the BBC.

Key Developments:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attacks the government response to flooding, in a speech in Blackpool, northwest EnglandLabour says it suffered a cyber attack, which a security official described as low level. That was followed by a second denial-of-service attack on Tuesday afternoonLiberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson pledges 5 billion pounds ($6.4 billion) of spending over five years on flood defenses; Labour says it would spend 5.6 billion pounds over 10 yearsRead more: As Britain Votes, Your Enemy’s Enemy Is Your Friend: QuickTake

Labour Hit By Second Denial-of-Service Attack (4.30 p.m.)

Labour suffered a second denial-of-service attack on Tuesday afternoon, according to a person familiar with the situation. A party spokesperson said they were dealing with ongoing issues “quickly and efficiently.”

Green Party Says Coalition Agreement Unlikely (4 p.m.)

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, said his members would find it difficult to enter a formal coalition government with another party in the event of a hung Parliament. In an interview, Bartley said he was more inclined to operate in a so-called confidence and supply arrangement to maintain their freedom on issues including the Trident nuclear weapons system.

But he also described the Green Party’s agreement with other anti-Brexit parties not to run against each other in 60 seats across England and Wales as a “breakthrough moment.” The Greens will wait and see how that goes before considering any further pacts, he said.

Corbyn Says Johnson Only Offers Division (12:30 p.m.)

Jeremy Corbyn said Nigel Farage’s decision to stand the Brexit Party down in Tory-held seats shows how Boris Johnson is in an “alliance”with Farage and U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Labour Party leader sought to stoke voter fears that Johnson’s Brexit plan will lead to a U.S. trade deal that will undermine the National Health Service. It’s a theme he’s likely to keep revisiting through the campaign.

“What we have before us is an alliance between Donald Trump and Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson,” Corbyn said at a campaign event in Blackpool. “Farage and Johnson only offer division, division, division, and a deal with Donald Trump, and you’ll then be saying whatever happened to our wonderful National Health Service,? whatever happened to all the regulations that we had that protected our rights at work, our rights to a clean environment and our rights to safe food?”

Corbyn: Attack on Labour Computers ‘Suspicious’ (12:15 p.m.)

Jeremy Corbyn told an election event the attack on the Labour Party’s computer systems worried him even though it wasn’t successful.

“If this is a sign of things to come then I feel very nervous about it all,” he said in Blackpool, northwestern England. “A cyber attack against a political party in an election is suspicious and something one is very worried about.”

Corbyn may seek to use the attack to draw attention to the government’s refusal to release the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report into Russian involvement in British elections (see 8:20 a.m.).

The Labour leader compared the internet assault on his party to the 2018 Wannacry cyber-attack on NHS systems, which was classed by the intelligence agency GCHQ as a level two attack -- serious, but with no immediate threat to life. The attack on Labour’s systems by contrast was set at the lowest level of six.

Security Official: Labour Cyber Attack Low-Level (12 p.m.)

A U.K. security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the attack on Labour’s computer systems had been low-level. It was a category six attack, which intelligence agency GCHQ defines as “early activity aimed at a medium-sized organization.”

Labour reported the attack Monday night and it was resolved Tuesday morning. Suggestions on social media Russia and Brazil had been involved were wide of the mark, the official said.

Corbyn Slams ‘Woeful’ Response to Floods (11:50 a.m.)

Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn attacked Johnson’s response to floods in northern England, saying it “has been woeful.” He criticized the premier for waiting five days to call a meeting of the government’s emergency committee, and then for only doing so after Corbyn had demanded it.

“Just imagine if this had been in Surrey, instead of Yorkshire and the east Midlands” he said, referring to a wealthy county in London’s commuter belt. “I think it would have been a very different story.”

Corbyn was in Blackpool, northwest England to announce Labour’s new policy to help adults gain access to education and training throughout their lives (see post at 9 a.m.).

EU Sets Johnson New Ultimatum (11:45 a.m.)

As the Brexit process remains in limbo during the election, Boris Johnson was given a dressing down by the European Commission in Brussels.

The commission’s president-elect Ursula von der Leyen sent another letter to Johnson reminding him of the U.K.’s legal obligation to nominate a new Commissioner, according to her spokeswoman Dana Spinant. After von der Leyen’s previous letter on the matter went unanswered, the president-elect now expects a nomination by the end of this week at the latest, her spokeswoman said.

The new EU executive arm can’t be confirmed by the bloc’s assembly and sworn in before the U.K. nominates a Commissioner. EU leaders can take a unanimous decision to waive this obligation, but there are no signs they are willing to do so.

Von der Leyen’s spokeswoman said the latest letter reminded Johnson of his government’s promise not disrupt the functioning of the bloc.

Tories Ramp Up Attack on Labour Spending Plans (10:30 a.m.)

The Conservative Party is using its first billboard of the campaign to attack Labour’s spending plans under leader Jeremy Corbyn, which reads: “You’d pay £2,400 more tax under Labour.” It also includes a snapshot of a banking app with a payment to “new tax bill” payment to “Jeremy.” A tweet on the Conservative Party’s main Twitter account highlights the message.

Labour Says It Blocked Major Cyber Attack (10:20 a.m.)

The U.K.’s main opposition Labour Party said it blocked a “sophisticated and large scale attack” on its digital platforms.

“The integrity of all our platforms was maintained and we are confident that no data breach occurred,” Labour said in a statement.

U.K. Labor Market Weakens (9:30 a.m.)

The U.K. economy lost jobs in the third quarter and vacancies posted their largest annual decline since the financial crisis. The figures from the Office for National Statistics are further evidence that Brexit uncertainty is finally hitting the labor market, which has defied the wider economic troubles since the 2016 Brexit vote and supported consumer spending.

The data, which also show wage growth unexpectedly slowing, add to the fierce debate over the economy as the campaign for the Dec. 12 vote intensifies.

Labour Pledges Free Adult Education (9 a.m.)

The opposition Labour Party is focusing on education and skills, with leader Jeremy Corbyn and education spokeswoman Angela Rayner giving speeches in Blackpool. Announcements will include free education for six years for all adults to “give them opportunities for the future,” Rayner told BBC radio.

A Labour government would also abolish university tuition fees “no ifs, no buts,” Rayner said -- a move that will put pressure on both the ruling Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, who have long been tainted with the government’s decision in 2012 to raise the cap on tuition fees in England to 9,000 pounds ($11,600) from 3,000 pounds a year.

The Liberal Democrats, who pledged in the 2010 election campaign not to raise fees, were coalition partners with the Tories at the time. This time around, Jo Swinson’s party has pledged a grant of 10,000 pounds for all adults in England to put toward education and training.

Clinton: U.K. Must Publish Russia Meddling Report (8:20 a.m.)

Former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said Johnson should release a report by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee into Russia’s alleged involvement in U.K. democracy.

“I’m dumbfounded that this government won’t release the report about Russian influence,” Clinton told BBC radio. “Because every person who votes in this country deserves to see that report before your election happens.”

The report assesses the threat posed to Britain’s democratic processes and stems from an 18-month inquiry into illicit Russian activities. But the government refused to publish it before the general election campaign, and Treasury minister Rishi Sunak on Tuesday repeated the government’s position that officials hadn’t had enough time to vet the report.

“There’s a lot of evidence Russia played in the Brexit” referendum, Clinton said, without giving details.

Farage: Trump Involvement Is ‘Conspiracy Theory’ (8 a.m.)

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage dismissed a suggestion put forward by critics that Donald Trump had influenced his decision to withdraw candidates in Conservative-held areas, calling it a “wild conspiracy theory.” He told the BBC he hasn’t spoken to the U.S. president in weeks.

Farage’s decision not to contest 317 seats has left open the possibility his party may still split the vote in areas Johnson’s Conservatives need to gain from Labour to secure a parliamentary majority.

“What is clear is that the Conservative Party care more about themselves than they do about Brexit or the country,” Farage said when asked about the pressure he was facing to withdraw in more areas. He also repeated his claim -- denied by the Tories -- that “people close” to Johnson’s office had offered him a seat in Parliament’s upper House of Lords.

Earlier:

Farage Won’t Fight Tories in Election Boost for U.K.’s JohnsonFarage Retreat Aids Johnson’s Election Push: U.K. Campaign TrailU.K. Recent Election Polls Summary: Conservative 39%, Labour 28%

--With assistance from Brian Swint, Nikos Chrysoloras, Robert Hutton and James Bullock.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kitty Donaldson in London at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net;Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net;Lucy Meakin in London at lmeakin1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs

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