Jo Swinson (pictured) accuses ‘boys’ Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn of being too ‘scared’ to take her on in ITV’s election debate Furious Liberal Democrats have demanded to be involved in ITV’s election debate as leader Jo Swinson taunts Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. The Lib Dem Party Leader took to social media to take
Jo Swinson (pictured) accuses ‘boys’ Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn of being too ‘scared’ to take her on in ITV’s election debate
Furious Liberal Democrats have demanded to be involved in ITV’s election debate as leader Jo Swinson taunts Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.
Miss Swinson posted a link to a petition calling for her to be involved in the debate with Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.
She added a simple caption that read: ‘Scared, boys?’
Nigel Farage, the Brexit Party leader, has also not been invited to take part in the first head-to-head debate.
The hashtag ‘Debate Her’ later began trending on Twitter as MPs rallied against what they described as a ‘rigged’ debate.
This was a sentiment then echoed by MPs including Chuka Umunna, Tim Farron and Luisa Porritt to name just a few.
Vince Cable, who was leader of the Lib Dems from 2017 to 2019, was one MP that hit out at the arrangements.
The 76-year-old took to Twitter and said: ‘Crude attempt to rig [an] election via @itvpresscentre #Brexit.
‘Putin knows the technique; set up election with no-hoper and silence the real opposition.
When the head-to-head was initially announced both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn both took to social media to welcome the debate but both have now been accused by the Lib Dems of running scared
In 2010, the then Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg was praised for how he ‘stole’ the first televised leaders’ debate in British political history when he stood alongside David Cameron and Gordon Brown.
The 90-minute debate was watched by almost 10 million viewers during which time Mr Clegg was able to avoid the aggressive exchanges being banded around between the Conservative and Labour leaders.
It was said at the time that Mr Clegg’s performance at that one event had transformed his party’s chances in the general election.
When the head-to-head was initially announced both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn both took to social media to welcome the debate.
Mr Corbyn said on Twitter: ‘This is a once in a generation election. So it’s welcome that Boris Johnson has accepted our challenge of a head to head TV debate.’
And the Prime Minister tweeted: ‘Looking forward to making the positive case to the country that we should #GetBrexitDone & deliver on the people’s priorities – #OurNHS, schools, tackling crime & the cost of living.’
It was initially planned that a further debate held later in the campaign at which the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, the Brexit Party, the Greens, Plaid Cymru as well as Labour and the Conservative Party.
They would all be represented by their leader or another senior figure.
A spokesman for ITV said: ‘TV intends to offer viewers comprehensive and fairly balanced General Election coverage.
‘This involves a wide range of programming, including a live debate programme in which seven party leaders are invited to take part, as well as a live debate between the Labour and Conservative leaders.’
Britain ‘will NEVER be free from the EU rules’: Nigel Farage blasts Boris Johnson’s plans to take no deal Brexit off the table in manifesto as the Brexit Party ramps up plans to contest every seat in election
Nigel Farage has expressed outrage at the news Boris Johnson is set to take no-deal off the table, warning that Britain ‘will never be free of EU rules’ if he continues along such a path.
The Brexit Party leader spoke out this morning after it was revealed the Prime Minister’s new manifesto is set to abandon the threat of a no-deal Brexit in an attempt to gain support from the centre ground.
In a direct contrast with his initial ‘do or die’ vow to leave the EU with or without a deal on October 31, Johnson will focus on achieving Brexit ‘immediately’ through his ‘fantastic’ deal.
The Brexit Party leader (pictured launching the Brexit Party’s Election campaign in Westminster yesterday) spoke out this morning after it was reveled the Prime Minister’s new manifesto is set to abandon the threat of a no-deal Brexit in an attempt to gain support from the centre ground
Mr Farage said on Twitter: ‘If Boris Johnson will abandon a clean break Brexit, and he wins an election on this, we will never be free of EU rules.’
Details of the manifesto emerged as Mr Johnson revealed he would reject Nigel Farage‘s offer of a Leave Alliance at the general election, telling voters the only way to guarantee Brexit will happen is to support the Conservative Party at the ballot box.
Mr Johnson will also pledge to lift the threshold at which people start paying National Insurance contributions and raise the threshold for the 40p rate of income tax from £50,000 to £80,000.
Nigel Farage has expressed outrage at the news Boris Johnson is set to take no-deal off the table, warning that Britain ‘will never be free of EU rules’ if he continues along such a path
Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom also revealed last night the Government would continue to keep business rates and tax breaks under review and that it would focus on ‘ramping up the supply of affordable housing’.
The manifesto revelations came on the day that:
- The Prime Minister made a U-turn on long-standing policy as he abandoned the Tory stance on fracking in an effort to boost the party’s green credentials
- Michael Gove insisted in an interview with the Daily Mail that the Tories did not need Mr Farage’s help.
- Mr Johnson told the BBC that voting for any other party than his was ‘tantamount to putting Jeremy Corbyn in’.
- A Daily Mail poll suggested the Conservatives are on course to make dramatic gains from Labour in northern seats including Workington, which is seen as key to victory;
- Ministers were forced to defend Mr Johnson’s agreement with the EU after it was savaged by Donald Trump;
- Tory Eurosceptic MPs told Mr Farage they would not be ‘bullied’ after he threatened to stand candidates against them;
- Mr Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn agreed to go head to head on November 19 in the first ever TV debate between two main party leaders;
- MPs have been warned by police not to campaign alone at night because of growing threats and abuse.
Boris Johnson’s new manifesto is set to abandon the threat of a no-deal Brexit as the Prime Minister attempts to gain support from the centre ground while going head-to-head with Nigel Farage
Mr Farage yesterday announced his Brexit Party will contest every seat across England, Scotland and Wales on December 12 unless Mr Johnson ditches his EU divorce accord and agrees to strike a non-aggression pact.
Mr Johnson later dismissed the offer in a move which is likely to disappoint Donald Trump, the US President, who last night urged the Prime Minister and Mr Farage to do a deal.
Mr Trump said if the two men were to ‘get together’ they would be an ‘unstoppable force’ and could do something ‘terrific’.
According to the outgoing Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan, Johnson’s new manifesto means a no-deal Brexit ‘has effectively been taken off the table’.
Mr Farage had announced his Brexit Party would contest every seat across England, Scotland and Wales on December 12 unless Mr Johnson ditched his EU divorce accord and agrees to strike a non-aggression pact
In an interview with the Times, she said: ‘If you vote Conservative at this election, you’re voting to leave with this deal.’
The newspaper added that the manifesto will not include a commitment to fiscal rule and the Conservatives are in breach of their previous rules which stated that borrowing must be lower than two per cent of GDP.
Johnson will also pledge to continue the fuel duty freeze as well as increase the number of extra police officers to 25,000 and extend free childcare for three and four-year-olds.
However the Prime Minister made a U-turn on long-standing policy earlier as he abandoned the Tory stance on fracking in an effort to boost the party’s green credentials.
The controversial method of extracting gas from the earth will be put on hold after a report from the Oil and Gas Authority found it is not possible to ‘accurately predict’ the probability or magnitude of earthquakes linked to fracking.
Johnson had previously said fracking was ‘an answer to the people’s prayers’ but he has backed down in the face of criticism over the Government’s environmental record.
He said that there would be ‘significant new policy in a number of areas, designed to ensure that people who are worried about the cost of living know that the Government is on their side’.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster declined to comment in detail, but ministers are known to be working on plans for a massive extension of free childcare for working parents. Mr Gove said: ‘It’s about making people’s lives better.
‘And that means taking steps to ensure people can keep more of what they earn. And that people can deal better with some of the cost of living challenges that we face, but also making sure that we have proper investment in public services.
The Tory election manifesto will promise tax cuts to leave people with ‘more of what they earn’, Michael Gove declared
‘Boris throughout the leadership campaign made the point that you need a dynamic economy to fund public services but you also need strong public services in order to ensure people have the skills they need and the peace of mind they require in order to contribute.’
Tory tax plans remain a closely-guarded secret.
But Mr Gove confirmed officials are trawling through Mr Johnson’s leadership campaign pledges as they put together the manifesto.
These include plans to raise the starting threshold for paying 40p tax from £50,000 to £80,000 and raising the threshold for national insurance from £8,632 to £12,500.
The first would be worth an average £2,400 to the better-off, while the second would be worth around £460 a year to all workers earning more than £12,500. That would also take 2.4million low-paid workers out of the national insurance system altogether.
Experts have warned the two massive tax cuts could cost £20billion. And while Mr Johnson is keen to push ahead with both, he is facing resistance from the Treasury at a time when it is being asked to fund big increases in spending on schools, hospitals and the police.
Mr Gove said there would also be a string of measures on the environment. And ministers are working on a package of measures to bolster ‘responsible capitalism’ in response to Jeremy Corbyn’s attacks on business.
If the Brexit Party and Conservatives do not do a deal, Farage could take votes from the Tories in crucial constituencies. That could take seats from the Conservatives’ total and make the Brexit Party coalition power brokers – or even enable Jeremy Corbyn to form a coalition
Mr Gove likened the PM to the late US President Ronald Reagan, saying the two leaders shared the ‘rare gift’ of being able to ‘bring a smile to people’s faces’ because of their own natural optimism.
He added: ‘I think people have often underestimated the extent to Boris is – and people use different words – a progressive or one-nation, or centre-ground Conservative.
‘There are some politicians who bring a smile unprompted to people’s faces because they think their country will be better under someone who’s got that sense that the sun will rise on a better country tomorrow. Ronald Reagan had it, and Boris has it. It’s a rare gift in politics.’
In the 2016 leadership campaign, Mr Gove torpedoed Mr Johnson’s bid by warning he was ‘not capable’ of uniting the country or the party.
Mr Gove confirmed officials are trawling through Mr Johnson’s leadership campaign pledges as they put together the manifesto
But, speaking on the campaign trail in the key target seat of Bristol yesterday, he said he ‘already been proved wrong’. He acknowledged he would like to see a return for all 21 of the MPs exiled from the party for opposing No Deal, only ten of whom have so far been allowed back.
But he said Mr Johnson had been a ‘good team captain’ who had proved wrong even harsh critics such as former international development secretary Rory Stewart by securing a Brexit deal.
Mr Gove said he was ‘sorry’ the UK had failed to leave the EU on time on October 31. But he said Brexit would be delivered ‘within weeks’ of a Tory victory, and by January 31 ‘at the latest’.
Mr Farage had announced yesterday that his Brexit Party would contest every seat across England, Scotland and Wales on December 12 unless Mr Johnson ditched his EU divorce accord and agrees to strike a non-aggression pact.
Mr Johnson dismissed the offer in a move which is likely to disappoint Donald Trump, the US President, who last night urged the Prime Minister and Mr Farage to do a deal.
Mr Trump said if the two men were to ‘get together’ they would be an ‘unstoppable force’ and could do something ‘terrific’.
But the PM ignored Mr Trump’s plea as he claimed a vote for any party other than the Tories would risk putting Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10, telling ITV: ‘I may respectfully say to all our friends around the world… that the only way to get this thing done is to vote for us.’
He added: ‘Vote for this government because unfortunately as I tried to point out if you vote for any other party the risk is you’ll just get Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, dither and delay, not just one referendum next year but two referendums.’
In a separate interview with the BBC, he said ‘voting for any other party’ would be ‘basically tantamount to putting Jeremy Corbyn in’ Downing Street.
Mr Johnson also pushed back hard this evening against Mr Farage’s criticism of his deal as he said it does represent a ‘proper Brexit’.
Asked if he is worried that his election gamble could ‘backfire’ like it did for Theresa May in 2017, the PM said he had ‘no choice’ but to go to the country early because Parliament is ‘basically full of MPs who voted Remain’.
‘I love ’em, a lot are my friends, but that’s the way they are, they voted Remain and they will continue to block Brexit if they’re given the chance,’ he said.
Mr Johnson’s comments effectively kill off any hopes of a pact being agreed with Mr Farage and put the Tories and the Brexit Party on a general election collision course.
The Brexit Party’s key policies
Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice set out some of the group’s main election policies this morning.
Here is a selection of some of the most eye-catching:
Abolish the House of Lords and create elected second chamber
Replace first past the post voting system and shift to proportional representation
Mandatory by-elections if MPs change political party
Non-payment of the £39 billion Brexit bill
Slash the foreign aid budget
Scrap the High Speed 2 railway network
Create a high growth, low tax economy
Zero business rates for high street shops
Mr Johnson has made clear he will fight the election campaign on a pledge to deliver his deal while Mr Farage is adamant that the PM’s agreement with Brussels is not up to scratch and must be torn up.
Mr Farage said this morning as he launched his election campaign at an event in London that he had 500 MP candidates ready and waiting to stand across the country if Mr Johnson refused his offer.
It now looks increasingly likely that those Brexiteer candidates will be sent out to stand against Tories in a move which could lead to a major split in the Leave vote on polling day – and potentially cost Mr Johnson a majority.
Mr Farage had given Mr Johnson two weeks to ‘reconsider’ his Brexit deal and pave the way for an alliance but the PM only needed a matter of hours to dismiss the suggested way forward.
Numerous senior Tories, including party chairman James Cleverly, had already rejected the ultimatum from Mr Farage while hardline Conservative Eurosceptic ‘Spartans’ gave the PM a big boost as they insisted they will continue to support his deal.
Steve Baker, chairman of the European Research Group of Tory Brexiteer MPs, said: ‘I am no more willing to be bullied by Nigel Farage than anyone else into acting against my best understanding of the national interest.’
He added: ‘The reason every Conservative Eurosceptic MP backed the deal is that it can deliver a Brexit worth having.’
Tory MP Mark Francois echoed a similar sentiment as he said: ‘I voted for Boris’s deal and I’m sticking with it because it takes us out of the EU.’
The Tories’ dismissal of Mr Farage’s terms means the Brexit Party leader will now have to turn his attention to delivering on his threat to fight the Conservatives in every seat.
Mr Farage admitted this morning that the ‘risk of the vote being split is very real’.
He urged Mr Johnson to ‘reconsider’ his divorce accord with Brussels and ‘drop the deal because it is not Brexit’.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home today. He launched his election campaign yesterday with a vow to hold a second Brexit referendum within six months
He warned Mr Johnson that if he refused to budge then the Brexit Party would spend the next six weeks ensuring every home in the UK is aware that his deal is a ‘sell out’.
In those circumstances Mr Farage said: ‘We will contest every single seat in England, Scotland and Wales. Please don’t doubt that we are ready.
‘Do not underestimate our determination or organisation.’
Mr Farage said he hoped that ‘common sense prevails over the next two weeks’ and that the two parties can strike a pact – but that now looks incredibly unlikely.
The Brexit Party leader also fired a warning shot at Jeremy Corbyn as he said he intended to aggressively go after Labour-held Leave-backing seats in areas like the east Midlands, the north east of England and south Wales.
He said those were ‘absolutely among our top targets’ as he attacked Labour’s plan to hold a second referendum.
Mr Farage warned the PM that if he refused to budge then the Brexit Party would spend the next six weeks ensuring every home in the UK knows that the deal is a ‘sell out’.
He said Labour’s proposal to pitch a Brexit deal negotiated by Mr Corbyn against Remain at a second national ballot would represent a ‘complete and utter betrayal’ of Leave voters.
He then insisted it was ‘nonsense’ to suggest that such areas could vote for Mr Johnson and that as a result the ‘Brexit Party poses a very major problem to Labour’.
Delivering his two week November 14 ultimatum to Mr Johnson, he said: ‘I will say this to Boris Johnson: drop the deal, drop the deal because it is not Brexit, drop the deal because as weeks go by and people discover what it is you will have signed up, they will not like it.’
Insisting that an alliance would usher in a majority for Brexit-backing parties, Mr Farage added: ‘No one party owns the Brexit vote, that even includes the Brexit Party.
‘This is something that crosses all traditional loyalties and divides and it’s why the only way to get Brexit done is to form a Leave Alliance and to win this election with a big stonking majority.’
The Tories initially responded to Mr Farage’s comments by restating their long-held opposition to any pact with the Brexit Party.
Mr Cleverly, the chairman of the Conservative Party, said: ‘A vote for Farage risks letting Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street via the back door – and the country spending 2020 having two referendums on Brexit and Scottish independence.
‘It will not get Brexit done – and it will create another gridlocked Parliament that doesn’t work.’
Meanwhile, a senior Tory source was unequivocal as they said: ‘A vote for anyone other than Boris risks Brexit. We don’t do electoral pacts.’
Mr Farage’s election strategy had been the subject of intense speculation in Westminster because it will have major ramifications for both the Tories and Labour.
There had been suggestions that Mr Farage was set to announce today that he would stand aside in marginal seats to give the Tories a clear run in them.
Meanwhile, it was thought Mr Farage could choose to focus the Brexit Party’s resources on just a handful Labour-held Leave-voting seats to maximise his chances of victory.
But the Brexit Party leader stunned Westminster as he set out his intention to fight in every seat across England, Scotland and Wales unless Mr Johnson drops his divorce deal.
Mr Farage’s new political vehicle only launched earlier this year and questions had been raised about whether the Brexit Party will have enough resources to fight a general election campaign in every seat.
But Mr Farage insisted his party does have enough money for a ‘fully funded’ election campaign.
He did hint it could be possible for deals to be made at a local level in an apparent nod towards the possibility of non-aggression pacts being struck with hardline Eurosceptic Tory candidates.
‘Of course I’m open and flexible to local exceptions and already we are in communication with a number of MPs who are prepared to renounce the Withdrawal Agreement, to renounce the deal, and they themselves to stand on a ticket of a genuine free trade agreement or leave on WTO terms,’ he said.
‘And of course in those cases where MPs say this, we will view them as our friends and not as our enemies.
‘And more interestingly, already we are being approached to put together informal arrangements on the ground – constituencies in which they may have a better chance of winning and we won’t bother to campaign, but equally constituencies in which we have got a better chance of winning and they won’t campaign and that is already beginning to come together.
‘But that is not the real deal. The real deal is a Leave alliance that wins a big majority in Parliament. The real deal is a Leave alliance that delivers a genuine Brexit.’
Mr Farage is opposed to Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal because he believes it would leave the UK too close to the EU after it has left the bloc.
He favours a ‘clean break’ No Deal but the chances of Mr Johnson changing tack and backing such an approach are remote given that he has managed to strike an agreement with the bloc.
Last night Mr Trump dropped an election bombshell on the UK as he urged Mr Johnson and Mr Farage to find a way to work together.
He told Mr Farage during an LBC interview: ‘I have great relationships with many of the leaders, including Boris. He is a fantastic man and I think he is the exact right guy for the times and I know that you and him will end up doing something that could be terrific.
‘If you and he get together, you know, unstoppable force and Corbyn would be so bad for your country.
‘He would be so bad. He would take you in such a bad way. He would take you into such bad places.’
He added on the possibility of a pact with Mr Johnson: ‘I wish you two guys could get together I think it would be a great thing.’
Before the Brexit Party campaign launch, Tory Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We are not interested in doing any pacts with the Brexit Party, or, indeed with anybody else.
‘We are in this to win it.’
If the two parties are unable to strike a pact it is likely to leave much of the Tory grassroots disappointed with a majority in favour of a deal being done.
An audit by the Daily Mail found Mr Johnson could miss out in almost 90 battleground constituencies if the two parties run against each other.
If the Brexit Party choose not to stand and 70 per cent of their backers switch to the Tories (while 30 per cent go to Labour), then the Conservatives could take 38 target seats off Mr Corbyn’s party.