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Boris Johnson is back in campaign mode following a tricky visit to flood-hit areas of northern England, where his government’s response was criticized by local residents. In a speech at the London Electrical Vehicle Factory in Coventry, the prime minister said getting Brexit done would trigger a wave of investment, and blamed Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party for the U.K.’s delayed departure from the European Union.
Johnson said a government led by Corbyn would offer “dither, delay, discord, division”Corbyn said a Labour government would not allow a referendum on Scottish independence in its first termFormer Tory minister David Gauke urges voters not to back JohnsonCabinet minister Michael Gove says a majority Conservative government would get a free-trade agreement with the EU done by the end of the Brexit transition period in Dec. 2020
Johnson Pledges Investment Boom After Brexit (5:05 p.m.)
At a Coventry factory where China’s Geely Automobile Holdings makes London taxis, Boris Johnson promised to boost research and development, including putting more money into electric car charging and offshore wind farms.
“We are seeing a new industrial revolution: a green industrial revolution,” Johnson said in a speech. “Creating thousands of environmentally sustainable technologies and thousands of jobs. A glorious rebuttal to the skeptics who said it couldn’t be done.”
Johnson said getting Brexit done would trigger a wave of investment into the U.K., and blamed Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party for forcing the government to delay Britain’s departure from the European Union. He repeated some familiar attack lines, saying a Corbyn government offered only “dither and delay” and accused Labour of supporting a second referendum on Scottish independence next year -- something Corbyn denied earlier.
Voters Quiz Johnson on Tory Funding Cuts (4:15 p.m.)
During his visit to flood-hit areas of northern England, Boris Johnson has been meeting local residents -- and there have been some uncomfortable exchanges. In one clip posted by ITV, Johnson was asked about council funding cuts by his Conservative Party since the financial crisis.
“Are you going to put it back, what’s been cut over austerity?” a woman asked. When Johnson started to reply about funds for flood relief, another resident interjected: “You’re not answering the question.”
“We are increasing funding or councils, I don’t know the exact figures,” Johnson then said.
The impact of almost a decade of austerity on local services in England was laid bare in a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies on Wednesday. With councils concentrating resources on the most needy residents, services including housing, planning, transport and culture have seen their budgets slashed in half since 2009-10.
Brutal Cuts to U.K. Local Services Laid Bare as Austerity Ends
Judge Blocks Postal Strike During Election (2:40 p.m.)
A London judge blocked a potential strike by Royal Mail Plc workers during the peak Christmas holiday season, which this year includes the Dec. 12 general election. The Communication Workers Union members voted 97% in favor of action, but Royal Mail complained of “potential irregularities” in the ballot.
The court’s decision removes the risk that large numbers of postal votes could be caught up in strike action ahead of the general election.
Brexit Cost U.K. Tesla’s Gigafactory (2:30 p.m.)
There was bad news for Boris Johnson’s claim that Brexit will unleash commercial opportunities, as Elon Musk said Tesla Inc. has rejected the U.K. as “too risky” for its European gigafactory.
The U.K. was once a candidate for the company’s research and manufacturing facilities, Musk said as he announced he has opted for Germany instead. The uncertainty around the U.K. leaving the European Union made it far too risky a proposition, he told Auto Express.
Corbyn: No Scottish Referendum in First Term (12:10 p.m.)
Jeremy Corbyn said a Labour government would not allow a referendum on Scottish independence in its first term.
“No referendum in the first term for a Labour government because I think we need to concentrate completely on investment across Scotland,” Corbyn said in pooled comments. “I’m very clear that a Labour government’s priority is investment in Scotland.”
The issue is a key one because Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have repeatedly said a vote for Corbyn means a vote for two referendums next year -- one on Brexit and one on Scottish independence.
Lib Dems See Boost in Farage Pullback (11:45 a.m.)
The Liberal Democrats are trying to cash in on Nigel Farage’s decision to pull Brexit Party candidates out of Conservative-held seats.
In an interview, party leader Jo Swinson said Farage’s gambit makes it easier for her party to appeal to moderate Tory voters who are appalled by the association with the Brexit Party. She’s also keen to remind voters that U.S. President Donald Trump urged Farage and Johnson to work together.
Read more: U.K.’s Liberal Democrats See Opportunity in Brexit Party Retreat
Voter to Johnson: Flood Aid ‘Too Late Now’ (10:15 a.m.)
Boris Johnson’s visit to flood-stricken areas of northern England has not yet produced the kind of footage the prime minister will have been hoping for.
Walking around with reporters and TV cameras in tow, he asked a local woman: “What more can we do?”
“It’s a little bit too late now,” she replied, filming the encounter on her smartphone. Another voter declined to discuss the issue with Johnson, turning away when the premier approached.
Speaking to Sky News, Johnson said there’s “a lot more still to be done” to help areas affected by flooding, and to prevent recurrences.
Labour Pledges ‘Rescue Plan’ for NHS (10 a.m.)
The opposition Labour Party pledged to end what it described as a “crisis” in the state-run National Health Service with a funding boost of 26 billion pounds ($33.4 billion). The increase in health spending by an average 4.3% a year will be funded by higher taxes on businesses and the wealthiest taxpayers, Labour said in an emailed statement. The party said it represents 6 billion pounds more in real terms than the government announced last year.
“The world-class health service we all need and depend on needs proper funding,” Labour’s economy spokesman John McDonnell will say in a speech in London on Wednesday, according to the party. “Labour’s policies to tax the richest in society and invest for the future through our Social Transformation Fund mean we will be able to improve millions of lives.”
Johnson to Vow to End Brexit ‘Groundhoggery’ (9:40 a.m.)
In a speech later on Wednesday, Boris Johnson will vow to end the “groundhoggery” of Brexit if he wins a majority in the Dec. 12 election and “unleash Britain’s potential” with a clean energy revolution.
“We can get out of the rut,” Johnson will say, according to lines briefed by his office. A coalition formed by Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party lies in wait for the U.K. if the Tories don’t succeed, he’ll say.
“The country can either move forwards with policies that will deliver years of growth and prosperity, or it can disappear into an intellectual cul-de-sac of far-left Corbynism,” Johnson will say. “We can honor the wishes of the people, or else we can waste more time, at the cost of a billion pounds per month, and have two more referendums, one on Scotland and one on the EU -- an expense of spirit and a waste of shame, more political self-obsession and onanism.”
Gove: Tory Majority Only Way to Get Brexit Done (8:30 a.m.)
Cabinet minister Michael Gove disputed David Gauke’s assertion (see 7:30 a.m.) that voting for the Conservatives risked a hard split from the European Union. During his broadcast round, Gove told the BBC that Gauke was “precisely wrong” and said a parliamentary majority for the Tories would allow the government to deliver a free-trade agreement with the EU by the end of 2020.
“The only way we can get Brexit done and move on with the people’s priorities, investing in policing and education, is by making sure that we have a functioning majority government,” Gove said. He said politicians’ warnings of a no-deal Brexit at the end of 2020 are attempts to “raise bogeys and make people’s flesh creep.”
Gove also addressed the flooding in northern England that has rapidly become a key campaign issue. He said the government is releasing extra funds to help affected communities. “It’s certainly an emergency and it deserves a national response.”
Gauke: A Vote for Johnson Means ‘Hard Brexit’ (7:30 a.m.)
Former Tory Cabinet minister David Gauke urged voters not to support Boris Johnson, warning that “a Conservative majority after the next election will take us in the direction of a very hard Brexit.” Gauke told BBC radio it’s doubtful a free-trade deal with the European Union can be negotiated by Dec. 2020, when the Brexit transition period is due to end.
“I think in reality the prime minister is so boxed in that the Conservative Party would not allow him to extend the implementation period even if he wanted to -- and he shows no signs of wanting to do so,” said Gauke, who plans to stand as an independent candidate.
Gauke also said he’s “impressed” by Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson. “I think if I was living in a lot of constituencies, I would lend my vote to the Liberal Democrats.”
Johnson Asks Troops to Fight Floods as Weather Hits U.K. BallotU.K. Recent Election Polls Summary: Conservative 40%, Labour 29%Brexit Bulletin: Johnson Told He Can’t Avoid EU ResponsibilitiesJohnson Aims Not to Be Swept Away By Floods: U.K. Campaign Trail
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