Labour to change its election strategy in Leave-voting areas: Brexit News for Thursday 28 November

Labour to change its election strategy in Leave-voting areas: Brexit News for Thursday 28 November
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Labour to change its election strategy in Leave-voting areas…

The Labour Party is to re-shape their general election campaign strategy – particularly in Leave-voting areas – to try to turn around a stubborn Conservative opinion poll lead. Insiders say in the first half of the election campaign, a key error was that the Liberal Democrat threat was overestimated, while the willingness of Leave voters to switch from Labour to the Conservatives was underestimated… In some Leave-supporting areas, the defining issues for voters have become the NHS and the cost of living, with Brexit further down their list of priorities. That should be good news for Labour – safer, “home” territory. But despite this, the party is still seeing its vote drain away in the very places that it needs to retain to deprive Boris Johnson of an overall majority. So a new plan has been hatched and is about to be put in to effect. It’s designed to appeal to those who voted for Brexit, and to those who have other concerns but just don’t think Labour is on their side – BBC News

…as YouGov mega-poll suggests Boris Johnson is heading for a comfortable majority…

Boris Johnson is on course for a comfortable majority, according to a polling model that accurately predicted the election outcome two years ago. The Conservatives would win 359 seats, Labour 211, the SNP 43 and the Lib Dems 13 if the election were held today, according to a seat-by-seat analysis based on current polling by YouGov for The Times. That result would give Mr Johnson a majority of 68 as he made gains at Labour’s expense, particularly in the Midlands and north of England. Labour would suffer its second-worst postwar defeat, with Jeremy Corbyn’s total two above Michael Foot’s in 1983. However, the projected margins of victory are below 5 per cent in at least 30 seats predicted to be Conservative. YouGov cautions that a fall from the present Tory national poll lead of 11 percentage points to less than 7 could yet deny Mr Johnson a majority. – The Times (£)

…with the size of a seat’s Leave vote defining how vulnerable it is for Labour…

Commenting on the new study, YouGov’s political research manager Chris Curtis said: “YouGov’s official election MRP model currently shows the Tories with a comfortable majority with almost all of those coming at the expense of Labour in the North and Midlands. As expected, the key thing deciding the extent to which each of these seats is moving against Labour are how that seat voted in the European Union referendum. In the seats that voted most strongly to Leave in 2016 (60% or more in favour of departing the EU), the swing to the Conservatives is over 6%. This is allowing the Tories to overturn quite substantial majorities in places like West Bromwich East, the seat held until recently by Tom Watson, and Don Valley, the seat currently held by Caroline Flint.” – PoliticsHome

…although Dominic Cummings warns the election is ‘tighter than it looks’

Boris Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings has told Brexit supporters that the general election is “much tighter” than polls might suggest and urged them to persuade their friends to vote Tory. Cummings has worked closely alongside Johnson from the moment he entered No 10, though he has taken a back seat during the election campaign. With little more than a fortnight to go until polling day, he used his blog to send up what he called a “bat signal” to Vote Leave supporters, warning them Brexit is at risk. “You will see many polls in the coming days. Some will say Boris will win. Trust me, as someone who has worked on lots of campaigns, things are MUCH tighter than they seem and there is a very real possibility of a hung parliament,” he said. “Without a majority, the nightmare continues. ALL other MPs will gang together to stop Brexit and give EU citizens the vote. It’s that simple.” – Guardian

  • Don’t let Corbyn-Sturgeon cheat a second referendum with millions of foreign votes –

Jeremy Corbyn claims he has unearthed documents which prove the NHS is ‘up for sale in post-Brexit trade talks with US’…

Jeremy Corbyn has shared leaked official documents which, he said, prove the US has been demanding access to the NHS in any post-Brexit trade deal. The Labour leader said the uncensored papers, which were obtained by campaigners, reveal details of secret talks between the Government and the US. He said the evidence contradicts the Government’s repeated insistence that the NHS has not been discussed as part of a future trade agreement and would not be “on the table”. And he said it proved discussions relating to US demands to open up access to the NHS to American pharmaceutical companies were “at an advanced stage”. – iNews

…but that’s not what they actually say

Guido thought he’d factcheck Corbyn’s claims on what the unredacted documents say – and it turns out there was quite a lot of contortion on Corbyn’s part to interpret the documents as menacingly as he presented them. There’s already a lot of push back from the Department for Trade pointing out the documents were not from trade discussions where things were agreed, rather they were from the working groups in which both the UK and US set out their starting positions for any future trade talks. – Guido Fawkes

  • Boris gives ‘cast iron guarantee’ NHS is not up for sale after Corbyn’s ‘leaked documents’ fall flat – The Sun

> Victoria Hewson on BrexitCentral today: Jeremy Corbyn’s claim that the NHS is ‘up for sale’ in post-Brexit US trade talks does not stack up 

European Parliament approves Ursula von der Leyen and her European Commission – with no UK Commissioner…

German politician Ursula von der Leyen will assume control of the European Commission on the 1 December after the European Parliament approved the formation of the bloc’s powerful civil service in a vote on Wednesday in Strasbourg. Ms Von der Leyen, who is a member of Angela Merkel’s CDU party and the EPP centre-right bloc, and her Commission were approved by MEPs by 461 voting in favour and 157 against, and will replace Belgian Jean Claude-Juncker at the helm of the Commission that will lead the next stage of Brexit talks with the UK. – iNews

…as the new Commission President lashes out at pro-Brexit MEPs in a fiery rant

The incoming European Commission president branded the Brexiteers a “very, very, very small group” after they celebrated her sombre plans for life without Britain. She said: “We all know that one member of our family intends to leave our Union…” Before the German could move on, the European Parliament, descended into a shouting contest between the few Brexit Party MEPs to make the trip to Strasbourg and pro-Brussels parliamentarians. Mrs von der Leyen interrupted: “A vast majority of this house seems to be happy about the fact a very, very, very small group in this house would not be able to clap as loud any more.” – Express

Nigel Farage woos Labour Leavers with immigration message

Nigel Farage will start ramping up warnings over immigration in an attempt to woo Labour voters by claiming they have been the victims of a “double betrayal” over Brexit and freedom of movement. The Brexit party leader said pressure on public services because of “over-population” has been felt the hardest in Labour heartlands, particularly in the north, and complained of an overall lower quality of life. He told the Guardian that he would be bringing up immigration in his campaign more and more before voters go to the polls on 12 December, criticising Labour’s vagueness on their 2017 manifesto pledge to end freedom of movement and the Tories “lack of sincerity” on bringing immigration numbers down. – Guardian

Jeremy Corbyn dodges TV debates after disastrous BBC interview

Jeremy Corbyn has decided not to take part in two television debates this week, it has emerged, in the wake of his disastrous interview with Andrew Neil on BBC One. Sky News was forced to cancel a leaders’ debate on Thursday after Mr Corbyn refused to sign up to the programme, and a seven-way debate between party leaders on the BBC on Friday night will feature Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, in Mr Corbyn’s place. Sky sources confirmed they had called off the programme after both Boris Johnson and Mr Corbyn declined to take part in a three-way debate  with Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat leader. Mr Corbyn will instead appear in a Channel 4 debate on climate change this evening, which is unlikely to stray on to controversial issues such as Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism. – Telegraph (£)

Michael Heseltine appears with Lib Dems to urge anti-Brexit tactical voting

The Conservative grandee Michael Heseltine has made an impassioned appeal to people to choose “the national interest” and ignore traditional party loyalties to help elect Liberal Democrats through tactical voting. At a press conference alongside Chuka Umunna and Sam Gyimah, who sat as Lib Dem MPs in the last parliament having begun their careers with Labour and the Conservatives respectively, Lord Heseltine said he was still a Tory party member but planned to “lend my vote to the Lib Dems on this one issue” of stopping Brexit. Heseltine, whose 25-year ministerial career included a stint as deputy prime minister under John Major, saluted Umunna, Gyimah and those who were planning to vote tactically. – Guardian

> WATCH: Lord Heseltine speaks out against Brexit at a Lib Dem press conference

SNP stands by anti-Brexit position in manifesto

Nicola Sturgeon says her approach to Brexit is driven by being the leader of a governing party in a country which opposed leaving the EU. The SNP supports another referendum on EU membership, or the revocation of Article 50 if it is the only alternative to a no-deal Brexit. At the party’s manifesto launch, Ms Sturgeon told the BBC’s political editor Brian Taylor the position of the SNP was not in transition. – BBC News

> On BrexitCentral: What the 2019 SNP manifesto says about Brexit

Dominic Cummings: Don’t let Corbyn-Sturgeon cheat a second referendum with millions of foreign votes

Tell your family and friends face-to-face: if Boris doesn’t get a majority, then Corbyn and Sturgeon will control the government, their official policy is to give the vote to millions of foreign citizens to cheat their second referendum, we’ll all get screwed on taxes, Parliament will drag the whole country into crisis, and immigration will return to being a central issue in politics instead of being marginalised by Brexit. Days after the 2016 referendum, I emailed all of you to say thanks for your heroic efforts. I also said — keep an eye on my blog, if Brexit is in danger then I will send up a ‘bat signal’ here. –

Asa Bennett: The real risk to the NHS comes from Jeremy Corbyn leaving it in Brussels’ hands

Jeremy Corbyn waved around hundreds of pages of government documents this morning about the talks between UK and US officials about a post-Brexit trade deal as if he had found hundreds of smoking guns. Here, at last, was proof for the Labour leader that it was not an “absolute invention” (as Boris Johnson put it last week) to accuse the PM of plotting to sell the NHS to Donald Trump as part of a free trade agreement. Indeed, Mr Corbyn claimed that “the NHS will be up for sale”, which left him to encourage voters darkly to ponder whether it will be safe in “Boris Johnson’s hands”. – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

David Henig: There may be no smoking gun in the US-UK trade talks leak, but the Tories cannot rest easy

The Prime Minister has made it perfectly clear that the NHS will not be on the table in UK-US trade negotiations. The former Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox previously made it perfectly clear that food standards would not be lowered as the result of a similar deal. Yet today Jeremy Corbyn in effect accused them of lying, saying that according to leaked documents both have been discussed by UK and US officials. Corbyn may be overstating his case, for this is no evidence the NHS will actually be affected by a US trade deal, or that the UK will accept US food currently prohibited such as the increasingly known ‘chlorinated chicken’. The documents he has are the minutes of typical discussions potential trade partners have before starting formal trade negotiations. They prove little about the eventual shape of a deal. – David Henig for the Telegraph (£)

James Mates: Are there enough Remain voters living in the EU to affect the election result?

Is there a strong enough Remain contingency abroad to swing the General Election? The answer is probably that no-one knows for sure. Certainly there are plenty of potential voters beyond Britain’s shores – by one estimate 1.2 million – though after decades of freedom of movement across the continent, figures are necessarily imprecise. And there is not much doubt that there is a Remain majority among them, especially among those who live permanently abroad rather than spending part of the year in holiday homes. Few will be more affected by Brexit that Britons living abroad, with uncertainty now hanging over their residents’ rights, their pensions and access to health care. – James Mates for ITV News

David Shiels: An anti-DUP pact within an anti-Brexit pact is shaping Northern Ireland’s election

Since the new Brexit deal emerged in October, the relationship between the Conservative Party and unionism in Northern Ireland has been under strain. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), along with the smaller Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), are pledging to oppose the new Protocol on Northern Ireland (the replacement for the Backstop). Boris Johnson, who once articulated the unionist case against the original Withdrawal Agreement, has been accused of ditching the Unionists in his hurry to secure a deal. The narrative that Johnson has betrayed the DUP is a powerful one and suits the purposes of the party’s opponents. Although the nationalist parties oppose Brexit and are more critical of Johnson’s deal than Theresa May’s, they are making the most of the Unionists’ discomfort. – David Shiels for ConservativeHome

Julian Jessop: Five times the City of London got it wrong about Brexit

“Buy British, Goldman Sachs tells clients”. I had mixed feelings on reading this headline. It’s reassuring that the City is waking up to the prospect of an upturn in the economy next year. Goldman is surely right that clarity on the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU should emerge sooner under a Conservative majority government. However, the City’s forecasting record is pretty dire, particularly when it comes to Brexit. Ever since the referendum, forecasters have predicted a range of baleful scenarios which have notably failed to materialise. Here are five examples. – Julian Jessop for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • Policies needed so when we leave we are better off – John Redwood’s Diary
  • Should we have just waited for the EU to die? – Peter Franklin for Unherd
  • ‘What’s the point? We’re leaving!’ Brexit Party MEP mocks EU for threatening Britain – Express