U.K. Conservatives and Labour Fight Over Tackling Terrorism After London Attack

Alex Morales

(Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson is seeking to present his Conservatives as the party of security amid a bitter row with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour over the circumstances that led to last week’s terrorist attack. U.S. President Donald Trump’s arrival for a NATO summit is a potential wild-card in the campaign.

Must Read: U.K.’s Johnson Doubles Down on Security Theme After Knife Attack

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Key Developments:

Johnson, Corbyn and London Mayor Sadiq Khan attended vigil for victims of Friday’s London Bridge attackHome Secretary Priti Patel says Brexit is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to strengthen the U.K. borderJohnson holds campaign event in eastern England this eveningCorbyn pledges to cut regulated rail fares by 33% from JanuaryPolls released over the weekend showed the Conservatives’ lead narrowing, with one signaling a possible hung parliamentThere is a 69% chance of a Tory majority, according to Betfair

Tories Lead Labour by 7 Points in ICM Poll (3 p.m.)

The Conservatives lead Labour by 7 points, according to the first poll conducted entirely since Friday’s terrorist attack by London Bridge.The ICM survey for Reuters put Boris Johnson’s ruling Tories on 42%, with Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition Labour Party on 35%. Both parties gained a point from last week, with the Liberal Democrats unchanged on 13% and the Brexit Party down a point on 3%.The 7-point Tory lead is the sort of margin that makes party leaders twitchy, because it’s in hung parliament territory.

Corbyn Pressures Johnson Over NHS (1:30 p.m.)

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to demonstrate the National Health Service will not be part of negotiations with the U.S. over a post-Brexit trade deal.

Though Johnson has repeatedly said the NHS won’t be on the table in talks, Corbyn demanded concrete actions in a letter to Johnson on Monday. It’s a clear attempt to put the spotlight on the Tories with U.S. President Donald Trump due to arrive in the U.K. tonight for a NATO summit.

Corbyn’s demands include the postponement of talks until U.S. negotiating objectives are amended to exclude any reference to pharmaceuticals. He also said the U.S. must accept U.K. authority to set the threshold for the cost-effectiveness of drugs used by the NHS, and said Johnson’s government must rule out giving U.S. companies access to British public services via dispute mechanisms beyond the reach of U.K. courts.

Corbyn Says Big Spending Needed After Austerity (11 a.m.)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party’s pledge to massively ramp up government spending is necessary after a decade of austerity has left the U.K. lagging behind European peers in terms of public services.

“If all of our spending commitments -- the whole of our manifesto -- is carried out to every last letter, we still barely reach the levels of public services of France or Germany,” Corbyn said on Monday, according to the Press Association. “That’s how far behind we’ve fallen because of the strategy that’s been followed.”

Corbyn was speaking at an event to cut regulated rail fares by a third as part of broader plans to bring the railways back into public ownership and lower the financial burden on commuters. Train companies plan to raise prices by an average 2.7% next year.

Corbyn: Terrorists Should Be Released If Rehabilitated (Earlier)

Last Friday’s terrorist attack is dominating campaigning ahead of the Dec. 12 election. At an event to launch his Labour Party’s pledge to cut regulated rail fares by 33% from January, leader Jeremy Corbyn was again quizzed about prisons and sentencing amid a deepening row with Boris Johnson’s Tories.

“Terrorists should be sentenced, as they are, and they should be released as and when they have completed a significant proportion of their sentence and they’ve undergone rehabilitation and they are considered safe to the public as a whole,” Corbyn said, according to the Press Association.

The row comes after Johnson pledged to end a 2008 law brought in under the last Labour government that gives prisoners automatic early release. Corbyn responded by blaming a decade of cuts to the prison service under the Conservatives for weakening its ability to detect risk and rehabilitate inmates.

Johnson Using Trump Playbook on Security: Lee (Earlier)

Former Conservative justice minister Phillip Lee, who defected to the Liberal Democrats this year in protest at the government’s Brexit strategy, accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of channeling the Trumpian playbook in the wake of the London Bridge terrorist attack last week.

“He’s just pressing buttons. We know this is the Trump playbook,” Lee said, referring to Johnson’s pledge to toughen sentencing. “The practical reality is it’s extremely difficult to do that if you haven’t got the prison places. And we never really had enough prison places in all the time I was a justice minister.”

Lee’s comments on Sky News illustrate the risk for Johnson as he seeks to blame policies under the last Labour government -- which was voted out in 2010 -- for the circumstances surrounding last week’s attack. The premier has been framing his Tories as the party of law and order, but that means having to distance himself from justice system cuts made by his Tory predecessors.

“We knew there was a problem with the probation service, which had been privatized in 2012 under Chris Grayling,” said Lee, who became justice minister in 2016. “It’s a cycle -- from police, courts, probation. They’ve all got to be working well if you want to reduce crime, reduce pressure on prisons, and be able to lock up the people like Usman Khan for much longer, indeed forever,” he said, referring to the convicted terrorist who carried out Friday’s attack.

U.K. to Investigate Terrorists on Early Release (Earlier)

Government officials are looking at all 70-odd cases of individuals convicted of terrorism who have been released on license, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told BBC radio on Monday.

“We are satisfying ourselves about the details and making sure that first of all, any license conditions are being complied with,” Buckland said. “If not, then individuals can be and will be recalled to prison, and secondly making sure that any license conditions are as comprehensive as possible.”

Officials have decided that none will be allowed at events like the one attended by the perpetrator of Friday’s attack, he said. They’ll also examine early release programs and said it’s “right” to look again at the sentencing of terrorists and put public protection at the center of a future regime.

Terrorists “can in effect hoodwink trained professionals,” Buckland said. He added that politicians need to “pause, and get the tone of this debate right.”

Earlier:

Johnson Bolsters Security Message After London Knife AttackJohnson and Corbyn Play Blame Game After U.K. Terrorist AttackTories Focus on Security Before NATO Summit: U.K. Campaign Trail

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net

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

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