That’s all from us this evening. Thanks for reading and commenting. My colleagues, Patrick Wintour and Rowena Mason, have tonight’s main story:
And Andrew Sparrow has put together a detailed summary of the day’s main events:
Since he did so, the Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson apologised for her part in introducing austerity after the 2010 election. Swinson said some cuts were necessary but the nature and severity of those implemented by the government of which she was a part were wrong.
Commenting on his interview with Johnson, Labour’s Barry Gardiner said to Peston:
Quite honestly, if I wanted to see two men shouting at each other without listening I’d go down to the local pub.
All he did was bully, hector, and ignore the questions that you put to him. And that is the nature of this man who’s putting himself forward to be elected as our prime minister.
As a prime minister, what I want to see somebody who’s prepared to take on the hard questions and actually try and give you a serious answer to them.
He didn’t do that with you. He certainly didn’t do it with Marr on Sunday, and he’s refused to do it with Andrew Neil. The guy’s running scared of any genuine sort of scrutiny that we could give to him.
On the prime minister being questioned about Brexit, Gardiner said:
You challenged him, you challenged him on how he was going to get it done. He didn’t have an answer, he just kept on repeating the slogan.
Asked about reports he forced Tory MPs to sign up to his withdrawal agreement deal, Johnson said: “I have not forced them, that is totally unfair, there was absolutely no lobotomy”
He insisted “no, not at all” when asked by ITV’s Robert Peston whether he had said they “couldn’t be candidates?”
Boris Johnson, in his interview with ITV, has insisted the UK “will be out” of the EU on 31 January, while simultaneously acknowledging that the country will actually enter the transition period – during which it will still be subject to the EU’s rules and regulations.
Johnson said the UK would legally have left the EU on 31 January and said it could end the transition period at any point it chose to thereafter.
Last month, the Brexit experts Anand Menon and Catherine Barnard wrote an interesting opinion piece for the Guardian on what this might all mean in reality:
Wrapping up the interview, Swinson indicated she believed she would be able to stay on as Lib Dem leader, even if the party secured fewer seats than it held in the last Parliament.
I’m staying as Liberal Democrat Leader and I’m excited ... about the movement, the Liberal movement that we need to build because we still need to make sure that we can stop Brexit and there is something bigger at stake here as well ... It is about who we are as a country. Whether we are open, whether we are inclusive, whether we go down the route that you see in America of populism and nationalism and it’s liberalism that is the answer to that and that is the Liberal movement that I’m building.
Pressed on whether she would stand down following poor results, she added:
I’ve got a job to do and I’ve just been elected to do it and I’m excited to be fighting this election and in terms of that wider movement - you know we have more Liberal Democrat members than ever before ... I’m absolutely here to stay.
Swinson declined to say whether she would begin campaigning for the UK to rejoin the EU immediately after Brexit. Asked if the country should join the Euro if it were deemed necessary to demonstrate commitment to “being at the heart of the European Union”, she added:
I don’t think we should be joining the Euro. You know, I think being at the heart of the European Union I do not interpret in the way that you have just described it. I think that’s about us playing a leadership role within the EU. We’ve done that on so many occasions. If you look at the climate talks, the Paris Accord, the UK played a leadership role getting the EU to adopt an ambitious position – and then the EU managed to get the world to adopt an ambitious position on the climate emergency. That’s the kind of thing about being at the heart of the EU.
Swinson confirmed she would want to extend voting in any second Brexit referendum to 16- and 17-year-olds. Asked if she would go ahead with it even if it meant delaying the referendum, she said:
Well, I think it’s possible, in discussions that I’ve had about how we could do this swiftly. So for example it would be possible to pass a law to extend the franchise to 16-year-olds. It’s easier with EU citizens because they’re already on the voters roll.
Asked whether she would sacrifice a second Brexit referendum if the price of securing one was a second Scottish independence referendum, Swinson said:
I will vote for a people’s vote on the Brexit deal and I think SNP members of parliament will also vote for that legislation because they will know that, you know, that’s what people in Scotland want.
Swinson insisted again that she would not “put Jeremy Corbyn in No 10” but she said she would vote with him – or any other government – to secure a second Brexit referendum.
I will vote for legislation to pass a people’s vote, of course I will and I would have done that under the previous Conservative government, just as I would do under any other government. But I will work with people on a cross-party basis. If we can elect enough MPs who support a people’s vote and we have the chance of delivering it, Liberal Democrat MPs are the strongest advocates of remain.
But I’m not going to put Jeremy Corbyn in No 10. But, if a government of any colour puts down a bill in parliament to have a people’s vote, then we will support having a people’s vote to put a specific Brexit deal to the people with the option of remaining in the EU.
Asked about her personal approval rating, which Neil said was “even lower than Nigel Farage” at minus 31 – down from minus 20 at the start of the campaign – she said:
At the end of the day, I’m going to stand for what I believe in and there will be people who dislike that, but I’m not going to ... just have a kind of message that’s full of... I mean, you know, Jeremy Corbyn’s not saying where he stands on Brexit and I’m proud to be able to be clear that I think our best future is in the European Union.
In a reference to her election campaign tactics, Swinson was asked if she would now acknowledge she will not be the next prime minister. She said:
Well, I would obviously love to be prime minister. Clearly, when you look at the polls that’s not the most likely scenario. I will certainly grant you that. But I’m, you know, very glad to be standing up for the millions of people in this country who want to remain in the European Union and the more Liberal Democrat MPs we elect, the more likely we are to be able to stop Brexit.
The BBC’s interview with the Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, has started. She has been defending her personal popularity ratings and her tactics in the election campaign; particularly her decision to insist on reversing Brexit unilaterally.
The prime minister has claimed people will stop talking about Brexit after the extension period ends on 31 January 2020, despite the fact the UK would then enter the transition period and no future trade deal is in place to come into force at that point.
Asked whether such could happen by ITV News in an interview due to air on Tuesday evening, Boris Johnson said:
Yes, and now let me say something: I think we will have got Brexit done and you will find that it moves, because what will happen is that the parliamentary agony will be over, and the political agony will be over, and the misery and tedium and procrastination that’s been going on… will be over.
The interview, Robert Peston, interjected to tell Johnson that his claim was untrue.
Earlier, we reported that the EU had drawn up plans for how Brexit talks might run if the Tories win the election (see: 5:47pm).
Swinson apologises for backing austerity
The Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, has apologised for her part in introducing swingeing cuts when she was part of the Tory-led coalition government. In an interview with the BBC that’s due to be aired in about an hour, she has said the party was wrong to have backed some of the reforms.
The Lib Dems now propose to scrap the bedroom tax. Asked by Andrew Neil who had voted for its introduction nine times, Swinson replied:
The Liberal Democrats in government, including myself, which I have previously said – and I’m happy to say again – was wrong. And I’m sorry about that, and it was one of the things that we did get wrong.
Asked a similar question about the benefits cap, she said:
I will have done as someone in collective responsibility in government.
And asked another similar question on health reforms that allow NHS contracts to be put out to private tender, she responded:
I was in government, so I will have voted for them.
Given those facts, Neil asked, why would people believe her when she says she wants to roll back those policies? Swinson told him:
Well, we’re setting out what our plan is for the future. We did spend five years in a coalition government where clearly we didn’t win every battle against the Conservatives. We fought many battles and we did win battles for more money for schools, for more money for the poorest pupils, for managing to cut tax for the lowest paid, to introduce same-sex marriage. There’s many things that I’m very proud of and where we made a difference.
But, of course, there were things where we didn’t win those battles and I’m sorry about that. But it was not a Liberal Democrat government, it was a coalition government.
Neil told her 240,000 people had their benefits cut because she went along with the bedroom tax. Would she like to apologise to them, she was asked.
Yes, I am sorry that I did that. It was not the right policy and we should have stopped it. And our manifesto, as our previous manifesto, makes clear that that should be scrapped. And we have identified the money to put into it.
And not only the bedroom tax, but scrapping the two-child limit, which was introduced by the Conservatives, which we did stop in government, but was introduced by the Conservative majority government after 2015.
Asked if austerity was a “necessary evil or a terrible mistake”, Swinson said:
Clearly, too much was cut. Clearly, not enough was raised from taxation and, certainly, the investment should have kicked in earlier in terms of more borrowing for capital investment.
Equally, we implemented pretty much what Labour’s proposed spending plans were from the 2010 election. And I’m not going to say that, in a financial crisis, it was going to be possible – with the deficit at the level that it was in 2010 – not to make any cuts at all.
Some cuts were necessary. But the shape of those cuts and certainly the balance between cuts and tax rises, I don’t think was the right balance. I think we should have been raising more from taxation. And that’s something which we argued for and, obviously, that was not one of the battles that we always won during coalition.
- Donald Trump has concluded a two-day visit to the UK without doing anything likely to jeopardise the chances of his close ally Boris Johnson winning the general election a week tomorrow. Given Trump’s toxic reputation in the UK, Tory strategists had been concerned that any form of endorsement might be counter-productive. But yesterday Trump’s comments about the NHS and a trade deal were not unhelpful to the Conservatives and today the proceedings at the Nato summit were largely overshadowed by a puerile row about whether Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, were laughing at Trump behind his back at a reception last night. Johnson denied this (implausibly) and said it was nonsense to suggest that he did not take Trump seriously. But, at a news conference at the end of the summit, he was careful to distance himself from the man who once dubbed him “Britain[’s] Trump” because the two are supposedly ideologically aligned. Johnson sidestepped an invitation to say anything positive about Trump personally, and even avoided mentioning him by name. This might look like the start of a cooling in the relationship, but Trump understands perfectly well how elections work and, elsewhere in the press conference, there was a hint that behind the scenes the alliance is as strong as ever. That came when Johnson suggested that he might end up siding with US demands to exclude the Chinese firm Huawei from building Britain’s 5G networks. When Theresa May was prime minister she was reportedly planning a less Washington-friendly approach; according to a leak from the national security council, she was planning to give Huawei access to non-contentious parts of the 5G network.
- Trump denounced Trudeau as “two-faced” and left the summit venue earlier than expected, cancelling a planned press conference, after apparently being riled by the news that fellow leaders were having a joke at his expense last night. His abrupt departure dominated the headlines, overshadowing the otherwise modest achievements of a low-key meeting held to mark Nato’s 70th anniversary. At the meeting Turkey dropped its opposition to a plan to bolster the defences of Baltic states and Poland against Russia. As my colleague Patrick Wintour reports, Nato leaders also agreed to set up a committee of experts to analyse political decision-making after the French president Emmanuel Macron lamented the “brain death” of the military alliance.
- John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has said he does not accept Trump’s claim that the NHS would not be on the table in trade talks, saying the US president has a “passing relationship with reality and truth”.
- An Extinction Rebellion protester dressed as a bee glued himself to the Liberal Democrats’ battlebus this morning.
- John Longworth, a Brexit party MEP, has had the party whip removed after a row with the leadership over election strategy.
- The former Labour MP Ivan Lewis, who resigned from the party last year when he was suspended over sexual harassment allegations, has urged people in his Bury South constituency to vote Tory to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of Downing Street.
- Black and ethnic minority voters are backing Corbyn in far higher numbers than the overall electorate as the two main political parties vie for their votes in crucial swing seats.
- MPs would be banned from holding second jobs under reforms of the rules governing political donations and lobbying that have been proposed by the Labour party.
That is all from me for tonight. My colleague Kevin Rawlinson is writing the blog now.
But there is more to come tonight. Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, is being interviewed by Andrew Neil on BBC One at 7.30pm. And Johnson is being interviewed on ITV by Peston. (The programme goes out at 11.15pm, but the interview is broadcast on Twitter at 8pm.)
EU draws up plan for how Brexit talks might run if Tories win election
EU leaders will call for swift action to negotiate a future relationship with the UK, according to a draft declaration likely to be agreed the day after the general election.
EU leaders are holding one of their regular summits in Brussels on 11-12 December, just as British voters are going to the polls and getting the results
While the EU is keen not take sides, officials read British election polls and see a Conservative Brexit on 31 January as the most likely outcome. This leaked document, seen by the Guardian, sets out the next steps in that scenario
EU leaders will call on the European commission to draw up “a comprehensive mandate for a future relationship with the UK immediately after its withdrawal”, while calling on ministers in the general affairs council to “swiftly” adopt that mandate and other relevant decisions.
The commission negotiates trade deals on behalf of the EU, after the 28 member states, soon to be 27, have drawn up a mandate for talks.
“Negotiations should be organised in a way that makes the best possible use of the limited time available for negotiation and ratification by the end of the transition,” states the document.
That is an implicit recognition that not everything can be done in 11 months and the EU will have to prioritise, something EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said in a recent interview.
Barnier has said a basic free trade agreement would be possible to negotiate in Johnson’s preferred timetable of 11 months, although some EU diplomats are more sceptical.
The text also welcomes the continuing role for Barnier, who has won plaudits in Brussels for his coolness and diligence in keeping everyone informed. It says:
The negotiations will continue to take place in a coherent manner and in a spirit of unity and transparency with all member states.
That statement could be seen as a warning shot to the commission’s trade department not to try and run the British talks in secret, as well as assurance to small member states that their voices will be heard
The text also states:
The European council reconfirms its desire to establish as close as possible a future relationship with the UK in line with the political declaration and respecting the previously agreed European council’s guidelines, as well as statements and declarations.
The reference to “statements and declarations” is important: it is a message to EU member states that agreements on tricky issues, such as Gibraltar, will be carried over into the next phase on Brexit. In other words, the EU does not have to reopen these arguments again.
The leaked document should be read as the EU getting its house in order to avoid any procedural snarl-ups in Brussels, thus avoiding blame if talks fail.
Missing from the document is any mention of no-deal (the EU thinks this is less likely and that its plans are in order) or a renegotiation. If Jeremy Corbyn confounded expectations and moved into 10 Downing Street, the EU would once again open talks, but would await first a request for a Brexit extension.
Some of Boris Johnson’s campaign visits seem designed entirely to construct visual metaphors for TV reporters. That is certainly the case with his visit to Red Bull Racing in Milton Keynes. (See 4.39pm.) Just in case any reporters missed the hint, Johnson declared:
This whole country is stuck in the pits because of this blocked parliament. What we need to do is change the wheel and get it back on track.
This is from ITV’s Paul Brand.
These are from the BBC’s Ross Hawkins, who has spent more time on the road than most journalists this election.
The New Statesman has published its election leader article and it has said that it cannot back any of the three main parties. It does come quite close to backing the Green party, saying it would like to see more Green MPs in parliament, although it won’t endorse the Greens because it says they are not in a position to govern.
The New Statesman is broadly on the left and in the past it has backed Labour. But it says it cannot do so because of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. It says:
Labour has rightly chipped away at the edifice of ‘capitalist realism’, the term the late cultural theorist Mark Fisher used to describe the sense that ‘not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system… it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it’.
But the essential judgement that must be made is on Mr Corbyn himself. His reluctance to apologise for the antisemitism in Labour and to take a stance on Brexit, the biggest issue facing the country, make him unfit to be prime minister.
Before becoming Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn described Nato as “a danger to world peace” and said it should have been disbanded at the end of the cold war. Channel 4 News has a roundup of some of his quotes on the topic here.
Today, asked what had made him change his mind and commit to the UK remaining in Nato, Corbyn replied:
Our party is committed to remain a part of Nato. It’s also what we do in Nato and what Nato does itself that’s important – and that’s why I make the point about the need for criticism of human rights abuses wherever they occur, including Russia, but also an understanding of other countries so that we do reduce those tensions and we don’t recreate the tensions of the cold war.
Pressed on what had personally made him change his mind, he replied:
I have always been in favour of a policy of detente and lowering of tensions and we have decided we will remain in Nato as a party.
Asked if he thought Nato now contributed to world peace, he replied:
I think we’ll have to contribute to world peace through Nato and any other alliance – principally through the United Nations.
Boris Johnson's press conference – summary
Here are the main points from Boris Johnson’s press conference at the end of the Nato summit.
- Johnson denied laughing at President Trump at a reception last night and not taking him seriously. (See 2.36am)
- Johnson sidestepped an opportunity to praise Trump personally. (See 2.50pm.) In fact, it was almost a case of “Donald who?” as Johnson got through the whole press conference without mentioning the president once by name.
- Johnson claimed that Jeremy Corbyn wanted to “destroy Nato”. At times he used the press conference for blatant electioneering, and he ended it with what amounted to a version of his standard election stump speech. He said:
There is a choice between those who want to strengthen Nato and those in the Labour opposition who actually want to destroy it, destroy Nato, this alliance that has kept us safe.
I want to strengthen MI5, that keeps us safe. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party want to install a home secretary who wants to disband MI5.
I want longer sentences for violent criminals and to make sure that terrorists serve their full term. Mr Corbyn doesn’t agree with that.
In the past Corbyn did oppose Nato membership, but as Labour leader he has accepted party policy, and the majority view in the party, which is for the UK to remain a Nato member. And, although Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, signed a Commons early day motion in the 1980s opposing MI5, that is not a view that she has supported for years.
- Johnson said that “national security interests” would be a key issue when the government decided whether to let the Chinese firm Huawei play a role in building the UK’s 5G network. Asked about this, he replied:
On Huawei and 5G. I don’t want this country to be unnecessarily hostile to investment from overseas.
On the other hand, we cannot prejudice our vital national security interests, nor can we prejudice our ability to cooperate with other Five Eyes security partners, and that we will be how – that will be the key criterion that informs our decision about Huawei.
HuffPost’s Paul Waugh took this as a hint that Huawei will be excluded from this work (a decision that would please the US, which has urged the UK not to allow the company to have a role in constructing the 5G network).
Johnson also made a more general point about China posing a threat in the technology sector. Asked whether it should be seen as a strategic partner or an enemy, he replied:
Well I certainly don’t think the second thing [enemy]. There was no support for that idea.
I think what people felt was that it was right that we should build a strategic partnership with China, but that we should be aware also of the challenges that China presents, particularly when it comes to areas of high technology. I think that would be a fairer characterisation of the discussion.
- Johnson implied that he was opposed to allowing Britons who fought for Islamic State to return to the country. Asked whether they should be allowed back, he replied:
As you know, one of the difficulties we have in taking these people back is that our legal systems make it very difficult for us to secure convictions.
And I go back to what I said earlier, people go out to break the law, to sort of fight in terrorist organisations, then they really have to take the consequences.
- Johnson said he was not worried about how a dossier about the UK-US trade talks was leaked. (See 2.18pm.) This is a rare example of Johnson snubbing his former employer the Daily Telegraph, which in its splash story on Monday suggested this might be part of a Russian plot.
Former Labour minister Ivan Lewis urges people to vote Tory to keep Corbyn out of No 10
The former Labour minister Ivan Lewis, who resigned from the party last year criticising Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism, is now urging people in his constituency to vote Conservative. At the time he resigned, Lewis had been suspended from Labour over sexual harassment allegations, but he claimed the investigation was being prolonged for political reasons.
Lewis is standing as an independent candidate in Bury South, where he had a majority of almost 6,000 over the Tories in 2017. But now he says people should vote for his Tory opponent because he thinks the priority is for Corbyn to lose.
In a post on Facebook he said:
I say to my Labour friends, Corbyn’s Labour party is not the Labour party of our parents and grandparents. It is unreasonable of me to expect you all to leave the party because of antisemitism. But it is unreasonable of you to admit there is a serious antisemitism problem in the party then expect me to join you in the mantra ‘but the most important thing is we have a Labour government’. Imagine if this institutionalised racism was against any other minority community ...
At this election, the future of our country is on the line like never before. The only way to stop Corbyn in Bury South is to vote Conservative. This is not a decision I have taken lightly but I believe it to be in the best interests of the constituency and the country.
Britain heading for cold snap on polling day
A cold snap is expected to hit Britain just in time for election day on 12 December, the Press Association reports. Meteorologists at the Met Office have predicted that a wintry spell will arrive for election week, covering the UK in frost and seeing temperatures plunge to sub-zero in some areas. But pollsters say voters are unlikely to be deterred from going to the polls next week, with poor weather only having “a small effect on turnout”.
The long-term forecast suggests snowfall in Scotland and the Pennines, with the rest of the UK to be hit by blustery winds and freezing fog, PA reports. Temperatures are predicted to drop throughout the week, dipping below normal towards election day, with a greater chance of frost developing across the country. But the election would go ahead, even in a blanket of snow, because it is written in law and cannot be postponed unless the law is changed.
Brexit party MEP John Longworth has whip removed over row over election strategy
The chair of campaign group Leave Means Leave has been axed as a Brexit party MEP over disloyalty, party officials have claimed.
John Longworth, who publicly differed on general election strategy with Nigel Farage, has had the whip removed and will no longer represent the party in Brussels.
Unease between Longworth and his party is understood to have stemmed from his insistence early in the election that the party operate a smaller campaign and not target Tory seats. Others wanted to contest 600-plus constituencies.
The Brexit party’s chief whip and MEP, Brian Monteith, said:
We regret having to remove the whip, but we have been left with no alternative after John Longworth repeatedly undermined the party’s Brexit strategy over the last few months.
The Brexit party shall not be deflected from, or undermined in, its campaign to win Labour seats. We are receiving a great reception from disenchanted Labour voters and have believe we have a good chance of winning in many seats.
Longworth spoke openly about how his then party should focus on 20 to 30 seats in Labour areas at the very start of the campaign. A few days later Farage announced it was standing down in 317 Tory-held seats, which in some areas has disappointed candidates and party supporters. Its campaign is now focused on Labour heartland areas in northern England, the Midlands and Wales and it is running 274 candidates.
Here is some reaction to the Boris Johnson press conference from political journalists.
From the Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn
From my colleague John Crace
From the Telegraph’s Gordon Rayner
From the Independent’s Benjamin Kentish
From my colleague Dan Sabbagh
President Trump has confirmed that he is not holding an end-of-summit press conference.
Johnson sidesteps opportunity to praise Trump personally
Boris Johnson may have denied laughing at Donald Trump. But he was not prepared to praise him personally. This is what he said when he was asked if he thought that, “as a leader and as a man that Donald Trump is good for the west and good for Britain”. Johnson replied:
I certainly think that the United States ... has massively contributed to Nato, has been for 70 years a pillar of stability for our collective security. If you want evidence of the willingness of the United States to stand shoulder to shoulder with us, I would point you back to what happened in the case of the poisonings in Salisbury ... And the United States actually expelled 60 [Russian diplomats]. That was a fantastic testament I think to the trans-Atlantic alliance.
At this point Johnson started comparing the US response to the Salisbury poisoning attack to Jeremy Corbyn’s.
When pressed again for his view on Trump personally, Johnson pointed out that the US response to Salisbury happened under the Trump administration. They were “shoulder to shoulder” with the UK, he said. They “could not have been more supportive”.
But Johnson declined both opportunities to praise Trump personally as a leader. In contrast, Trump has repeatedly spoken of his admiration for Johnson. Yesterday he said Johnson was “very capable” and a few weeks ago he told LBC that Johnson was a “fantastic man and [the] exact right guy for the times”.
Johnson denies laughing at Trump and not taking him seriously
This is what Boris Johnson said when he was asked about the footage apparently showing him laughing at Donald Trump at a reception last night. “Do you not take President Trump seriously,” he was asked. He replied:
No. That’s complete nonsense. I don’t know where that’s come from.
My colleague Owen Gibson has the answer.
Q: Did you make it clear to Trump that the NHS would not be on the table in trade talks? If so, does that mean this time next year the UK could be leaving the transition with no EU trade deal and no US trade deal?
Johnson says the questions are now scraping the bottom of the barrel. He will wrap up. He ends with a riff about the choice at the election: between getting Brexit done, and having two referendums.
There is also a choice about Nato. He wants to strengthen Nato. Corbyn wants to scrap it, he says. And Diane Abbott wants to disband MI5, he claims.
(She doesn’t, although in the 1980s she signed an early day motion that implied that she did.)
And that’s it. The press conference is over.
I will post a summary soon.
Q: Trump said yesterday he did not know Prince Andrew. But there are lots of photographs of them together. Is Trump an amnesiac or a liar?
Johnson says that is a good effort to get an answer on something that did not come up at the summit.
Q: Did the issue of Turkey’s purchase of Russian missiles come up?
Johnson says this did not come up formally at the meeting.
Q: President Trump wants the UK to take more Islamic State fighters back. Are we going to take them back?
Johnson says our legal system makes it very hard to secure convictions if people return. People must accept the consequences for their choices.
Q: [From the Telegraph] Are you concerned about how the full text of the dossier about the UK-US trade talks became public? (The Telegraph has implied the Russians were involved.)
Johnson says he thought this material had been on the internet for some time. He says he is not concerned about this.
Q: President Trump said every leader he had spoken to here has agreed not to let Huawei play a role in its critical infrastructure. He spoke to you last night. So does that mean the UK will not let Huawei build the 5G network here.
Johnson says he does not want the country to be “unnecessary hostile to investment from overseas”. But he will not prejudice security. Those principles will decide his approach to Huawei.
This is from the Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn on this topic.
Q: Were you joking about President Trump at the reception last night?
Johnson denies it. That suggestion is “complete nonsense”, he says.
Johnson is now taking questions.
Q: President Trump has spoken of his admiration for you. Do you think the president, as a man, is good for the west and good for Britain?
Johnson says America has been a loyal ally to the UK. The alliance has been good for the UK. After the Salisbury poisoning attack, the US expelled 60 Russian diplomats. He contrasts that with the approach taken by Jeremy Corbyn, who wanted to involve Russia in the investigation.
This happened under the current administration, he says.
- Johnson sidesteps opportunity to praise Trump personally.
Boris Johnson's press conference
Boris Johnson is giving a press conference at the end of the Nato summit.
He starts with a short speech about the value of Nato.
One of the interesting moment in the ITV leaders’ debate came when Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson were both asked if the monarchy was fit for purpose. Tories assume that Corbyn will always on the royal family agenda (not singing the national anthem damaged him badly), but on this occasion Corbyn said the monarchy needed improvement, and the audience applauded. Johnson said it was beyond reproach, and his reply was met with stony silence. Corbyn gave the right answer - so much so that Johnson resorted a few days later to claiming that, when he had been asked about the monarchy, he had actually been speaking about the monarch (ie, the Queen).
But today Corbyn hasn’t had such a good outing on royal family territory. In an interview with ITV’s Julia Etchingham he was asked if he watched the Queen’s speech on Christmas day. He said that he normally did, although the full exchange suggests otherwise.
ITV has sent out the transcript of the exchange.
JE: Talk to us a bit about Christmas in the Corbyn household. Do you sit down to watch the Queen’s speech? Mr Corbyn.
JC: It’s on the morning, usually we have it on .. some of the time.
JE: It’s not on in the morning .. it’s at three o’clock in the afternoon
JC: It’s when its repeated .. in the afternoon
JE: So you don’t sit down, as a family, to watch the Queen speech.
JC: We don’t watch television very much on Christmas Day. Maybe a film in the evening. Erm I’d like to do a bit of exercise on Christmas morning
JE: You do some exercise on Christmas morning. I don’t think the Queen’s speech is in the morning. It’s three o’clock in the afternoon. That’s when everybody watches it.
JC: Well. Our Christmas is sometimes ...
JE: You don’t watch it do you Mr Corbyn?
JC: There is lots .. lots to do .. I enjoy the presence of my family and friends around Christmas. Obviously, like everybody else does. And, I also visit the homeless shelter, either on Christmas Day, or the day before, to talk to, and listen to people’s lives, about how they could be made better with a government that cared for them.
It’s not quite Frost/Nixon, although Corbyn would probably have been better off just saying he caught up with the Queen’s speech through the news (if at all), like most of the population.
Here is the clip of President Trump calling Justin Trudeau “two-faced”.
Trump cancels press conference expected at end of Nato summit
Trump says he will not be holding a further press conference. He has done plenty of press conferences, he says.
- Trump cancels press conference expected at end of Nato summit.
(That will probably be a relief to No 10.)
Trump calls Canadian PM Justin Trudeau 'two-faced'
Donald Trump criticised Canada for not spending 2% of GDP on defence. He says he called Justin Trudeau, the Canadian PM, about that. He says Trudeau was not happy about that.
He also described Trudeau as “two-faced” over the footage of Trudeau apparently joking about Trump at a reception last night.
And a a final answer to your questions from me ...
Q: What issues do the SNP anticipate in calling another independence referendum in the case of either a returned Tory government, or a new Labour administration? Which would be better for their campaign, is essentially the question. Fighting it out with Johnson or extracting a promise from an incoming PM Corbyn? Chris, Renfrewshire
In the election campaign so far, the SNP has been careful not to entertain any “plan B” talk, should either Labour or Tories refuse to grant the s30 order that Holyrood requires to legally hold a second independence referendum. You may recall that an attempt to debate a plan B was swiftly quashed at SNP conference in October, and Sturgeon herself has insisted that a second indyref must meet the “gold standard” internationally.
Instead, SNP politicians throw the question back to the other parties: who are you to deny the democratic will of the Scottish people? It will depend on next week’s results how powerful that argument is going to be: Sturgeon has described SNP successes at the ballot box as “an instruction to Westminster”.
It’s certainly clear already that Labour don’t want to be seen as anti-democratic, so they are willing to entertain a pro-independence mandate at the next Holyrood elections in 2021 as reason to grant a s30 order. But Johnson has said that he’ll refuse under any circumstances. I think both are good for the campaign now, since they both refuse to grant it next year, which is what Sturgeon says she wants, so it fits well with the narrative of Westminster frustrating Scottish democracy.
Thanks for all your questions today
Next up will be Guardian political correspondent, Kate Proctor. She will be answering any questions you may have about the Brexit party at 12.30pm on Friday. You can ask your question via our form here.
President Trump is speaking to reporters at the end of the Nato summit, at a meeting with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.
Trump says he thinks he will solve the trade crisis with China. There must be fairness in trade, he says.
Some interesting questions on different issues from readers here. If you’d like to ask a question in the comments please @Libby or via our form.
Q: Why has reformation of the Gender Recognition Act, present in the 2017 manifesto, been removed in the 2019 manifesto? Is there any explanation or reassurance for trans and non-binary people in Scotland who are alarmed by the signal that this withdrawal sends? Will the results of the publicly funded consultation carried out to gather information for the planned reformation be made available to the taxpayer? Sophie, 29, Edinburgh, software developer
Thanks Sophie, a number of people raised this concern after the manifesto was published, and the Scottish government’s equalities minister Shirley-Anne Somerville sought to reassure them, pointing out that she would be publishing a draft bill following further consultation by the end of the year. But it’s certainly true that this issue has caused a great deal of controversy within the party, with Sturgeon facing a significant amount of push-back on her plans to proceed with a devolved gender recognition act, aimed at streamlining the process by which a transgender person gets legal recognition. The fact that the issue has gone out for consultation twice has alarmed many in the LGBTI community, who saw this as a roll-back from a more solid earlier commitment. But the strength of feeling around the proposals, and the concerns from many women within the party who feel that the impact on equalities legislation and on women-only spaces in particular has not been taken into account , meant that the SG had little option.
Q: This election my vote will go to a party that will legalise cannabis. What is the SNP policy on this? Gavin, Dumfriesshire
Worth noting first of all that drugs laws are reserved to Westminster. Nicola Sturgeon has said that devolution of drug laws is one her key demands should another party seek SNP support for their minority government after the election and the SNP’s manifesto calls for this and - pending devolution - that the UK government should introduce a supervised drug consumption facility in Glasgow. Delegates at the SNP’s autumn conference in Aberdeen in October also backed the decriminalisation of controlled drugs, branding the Misuse Of Drugs Act, which dates back to 1971, as “not fit for purpose”. As you’ll probably know, Scotland is dealing with unprecedented numbers of drug related deaths, and this resolution was linked to attempts to open a safe drugs consumption room in Glasgow, which has so far been blocked by the home office.
Q: What is SNP stand on more support for veterans in Scotland? Anonymous, disabled veteran from service in the Gulf War, Dunfermline
I know that the next Scottish census will include a question about veteran status, a significant change prompted by the British Legion’s campaigning to make it easier to identify and support veterans. I believe that the SNP government was the first UK administration to make this change and also the first to appoint a Veterans’ Commissioner in the autumn of 2018. Practically, there’s support for getting into employment and also for veterans requiring social care, the Scottish Government has exempted the War Disablement Pension from assessment of income – meaning that veterans get the help they need and keep the full value of this pension.
Q: How would a border work between independent-but-in-EU Scotland and out-of-EU England. Would it be a hard border, like the feared one in Scotland? Jack, 29, works in insurance, St Albans
That’s going to be one of the looming questions should there be a second independence referendum campaign, and I’m afraid I can’t give you as much clarity as I’d like at this stage. In 2014, the yes campaign was able to argue that there would be no border between a newly independent Scotland and the rest of the UK because both would remain within the EU. Not so now of course. On The Andrew Marr Show recently, Sturgeon refused to rule out a hard border, saying: “We need to see how things play out and what the final relationship between the UK and the EU will be,” and adding that Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit was not an inevitability.
“As that picture clarifies, I will be honest with the people of Scotland but that opens a situation where Scotland’s best interests depend on being independent and in charge of our own future and I don’t want borders.”
Q: How far into nationalism is the SNP prepared to go? We’ve seen the effects of nationalism in Italy, amongst the far-right in Germany and with the EDL in England as well as with Trump in North America, for but a few examples. Do you consider it a potentially dangerous path to travel? Tim Eslip, middle-aged professional, England
The SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, was questioned on precisely this at the Edinburgh Fringe festival this August, so I think it’s helpful to reproduce her answers at length, since it was the most comprehensive I’ve heard her on this in a while. Asked about the types of nationalism you refer to, she told the audience during an interview with Matt Forde that the “civic nationalism” of the SNP was “on another spectrum altogether” from “far right, racist, insular movements” seen in other parts of the world.
Asked by comedian Matt Forde about Scottish nationalism, Sturgeon said: “A lot of the regimes called nationalist today are not countries striving to be independent, because often they already are, but are based on some kind of racial exceptionalism, or superiority often very illiberal and oppressive of minorities, and Scottish independence is not just at the other end of the spectrum of that, but on another spectrum altogether
Questioned specifically about a protester who had been pictured on the Royal Mile with an “England get out of Scotland” banner, Sturgeon said: “The person with that banner does not speak for the SNP. That kind of sentiment has no place in Scotland. You can’t get to a situation in any party where you say we’ll never attract the wrong kind of person but you can be absolutely vehement and resolute about calling it out. The people who put up that banner, I don’t want them in the SNP.”
This is from Bloomberg’s Sebastian Salek.
I have not seen the text of his speech, but will post more on it when I can track down a copy.
Here’s more on the economics of an independent Scotland ...
Q: Given that GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) for 2018-9 shows a deficit of £12.6bn or 7.7% of Scottish GDP, how would an independent Scotland pay for the extra spending proposals in the SNP manifesto or even current levels of spending. Richard, Australia
Thanks Richard - that’s precisely the question that the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which published an analysis of the SNP’s manifesto spending pledges in the Scotsman this morning, asked. As others have noted, the SNP manifesto was notably slim on costings, and associate director of the IFS David Phillips suggests that this may be because the spending plans would necessitate more, not less, austerity for Scotland if it were to become independent. As I set out in an earlier post on this live blog, Phillips points out that pledges including increasing NHS spending across the UK by £136 per head to close the gap with Scotland, an end to the two-child benefit cap and an increased national living wage, would require significant outlay at a time when an independent Scotland was also starting out with a serious budget deficit.
Phillips adds: “Pursuing the types of policies suggested in the SNP manifesto in an independent Scotland would mean either those cuts would have to be even bigger, or other taxes would have to be increased to pay for the proposed net giveaways ... in the short-term at least, independence would likely necessitate more not less austerity.”
The SNP’s own growth commission report on the economics of independence, which came out in 2018, proposed that the inherited deficit be cut by growing the economy rather than cutting spending. It also said it should delay launching its own currency and introduce tax cuts for migrants. Analysing the report at the time, the IFS commended it for being honest about “the challenging public finance position an independent Scotland would start life with”.
However, it went on to dispute claims that its economic strategy would end austerity, suggesting it in fact implied cuts in spending and benefits equal to 4% of GDP over a 10-year period.
Questioned about Scotland’s notional deficit by Andrew Neil last week, which stands at 7% according to current figures, and whether it could hinder renewed membership of the EU (EU members’ budget deficits must not exceed 3% of GDP) Nicola Sturgeon argued: “Our task is to get our deficit reducing faster. That is principally through growing our economy faster which remaining in the EU or returning to the EU helps us to do.”
My colleague Richard Partington has been factchecking the John McDonnell claim that a Labour government would save families an average of £6,700 a year.
Here is his verdict.
Nationalisation could save households money that would otherwise go to private investors, but is reliant on the smooth execution of Labour’s plan. The party could face difficulties and unintended consequences, putting savings at risk. Some of the savings are also not open to families until 2030.
And here is the full article.
According to Joe Murphy and Nicholas Cecil in the Evening Standard, No 10 sources have been keen to insist that Boris Johnson was not one of the world leaders joking about Donald Trump at the reception last night. Here is an extract from their story.
Downing Street quickly made clear that Mr Johnson had not been involved in any laughing about any disruption caused by the US president’s press conference, which was held at the American ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park yesterday morning.
A senior source said: ‘The prime minister was hosting and engaging with world leaders. It is others that were having the conversations and Boris certainly was not leading, as can be seen from the clip.
‘You did not see any commentary from him except for an innocent question as to why one was late.’
If you want to ask a question in the comments please @Libby, so they’re easier to find.
Many of you have been asking about the economics of an independent Scotland.
Q: This is a question that the Scottish press don’t ask. What would the cost of setting up the structure of an independent Scotland be and where will the newly independent Scotland get the money? Robert, 68, retired, Edinburgh
Hi Robert, you’ll recall this was a much-disputed area during the 2014 campaign. A Treasury report in May of that year estimated the costs of setting up an independent state to be around £1.5bn - including £750m to create a new tax regime and £400m for computers and IT for welfare - but this was vigorously challenged by the then first minister, Alex Salmond. Prof Patrick Dunleavy of LSE was quoted by both the UK and Scottish governments as the leading expert on transition costs, and he suggested that “start-up costs” would come in at around £200m but then a further £900m would be required for tax and welfare infrastructure. Nicola Sturgeon confirmed in September this year that she had instructed civil servants to work on a second white paper to convince voters of the case for independence, although it should be noted that the original version relied heavily on projected oil revenues which have since plummeted.
Q: Would an independent Scotland find it easier to join Efta rather than the EU, which would give an independent Scotland many of the benefits which eg. Norway has, but also allow us to opt out of CFP and the CAP?
While the SNP has explored the possibility of rejoining the single market via the European Free Trade Association, with the option of returning to full EU membership later, the response from other member states is mixed. In 2017, Iceland’s foreign minister warned that Scotland could not apply to join Efta until after it had fully separated from the UK, but in the same year Norway said it would keep an open mind to Scottish membership.
Accession to Efta is seen as more straightforward than rejoining the EU, but it is not certain that Scotland would then be allowed into the European Economic Area, membership of which would still have to be agreed by the EU. New members of Efta must be accepted unanimously by the existing four members: Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
Since the Brexit vote, there have been some encouraging noises from EU officials that an independent Scotland could automatically join the EU or inherit the UK’s membership after it leaves. But in 2017, Jacqueline Minor, the European commission’s head of representation in the UK, warned that Scotland would need to formally apply after leaving the UK, although it could be fast-tracked because it already complies with EU rules and regulations.
John McDonnell's speech and Q&A - Summary
With the possible exception of Nicola Sturgeon, John McDonnell is probably the stand-out media performer of this campaign. His speeches always contain an essential seriousness, but he can also handle media questions without sounding evasive or tetchy as soon as they turn hostile. This wasn’t the most newsy speech of the campaign, and it will be overshadowed by events at that Nato conference later, but he conveyed a positive message and he took quite a large number of critical questions without tripping up. Here are the main points.
- McDonnell refused to accept Donald Trump’s claims that the NHS would not be on the table in trade talks, saying the US president had a “passing relationship with reality and truth”. Asked if he thought Trump was lying when he said this yesterday, McDonnell all but said yes. He replied:
All the evidence that we’ve seen has demonstrated objectively that it is.
Donald Trump has a passing relationship with reality and truth sometimes. I believe in one instance claimed he didn’t know what the initials NHS stood for, so the reality is the evidence is there and the anxiety that we have about the NHS under Boris Johnson regime and his relationship with trump causes us extreme concern.
- He joked about a Corbyn government having difficult relations with Trump. Asked to respond to what Trump said yesterday about being able to work with Corbyn if he became PM, McDonnell said:
It’s encouraging to know that we can maintain a good working relationship with the people of America in the future - [McDonnell paused] after possibly another election.
The line about the election prompted laughter from the audience. McDonnell then went on:
Obviously, Jeremy will work with leaders all over the world including Donald Trump and we will ensure that whatever happens in the future we will look after the interests of our own people as well as other across the globe.
- McDonnell said Labour would announce details of its “first 100 days” programme before polling day. (See 11.40am.)
- He described compensating the Waspi (Women Against State Pensions Inequality) women as being akin to bailing out the banks. (See 11.52am.)
- He suggested the extent of poverty in the UK was incompatible with the values of Christianity. In his speech he said:
On Tuesday a new Shelter report also found 135,000 children will be without a home this Christmas.
On the same day an analysis by the Equality Trust showed the UK’s six richest people control as much wealth as the poorest 13 million. It all went to show just how unequal our society is.
It’s three weeks to Christmas. The celebration of the birth of Jesus. Children going hungry and homeless in the 5th largest economy in the world begs the question:
“Are we really living up to the values of Christianity or any other of our religions or beliefs for that matter?”
McDonnell brought up a Roman Catholic and for a while trained for the priesthood before deciding that his vocation lay elsewhere.
- He said a Labour government would save families an average of £6,700. Families with someone eligible for free personal care would save more than £7,000, he said. (See 11.29am.)
You have been sending in your questions about the SNP manifesto, policies and campaign which I will be answering until 1.30pm. You can share your questions with us via our form here.
Many of you have asked questions about the state of education in Scotland.
Q: Does Ms Sturgeon recognise the pledge, “Judge me on my record for education”? As she has not narrowed the attainment gap why should parents and children give her more than an F? Iain RF MacIain, 45, working in education, Scottish Borders
Interesting you mention that today – you no doubt saw the latest Pisa report yesterday, which saw Scotland achieve its lowest scores in maths and science since it first took part in the survey almost 20 years ago, and reported that pupils’ performance in reading tests had recovered only to the level it was at in 2012. A professor of education at Edinburgh University, Lindsay Paterson, described children’s reading performance as “stagnating around mediocrity”, arguing that the reason the attainment gap on reading had narrowed was because middle-class kids were getting worse. The education secretary, John Swinney, described the results as “very encouraging”, while accepting there were still challenges. The problem is that this is just one element of the overall picture, as you’ll know if you work in education yourself.
Another serious concern is teacher shortages. In rural Scotland we have some of the most severe shortages in Europe; also the numbers of days lost to stress-related illness for teachers who are in post; and worries about availability of subjects to children taking high school exams, with reports of kids travelling for hours each week to access teaching in their chosen subject which is only available in another school in their council area.
Q: Why don’t the SNP stand candidates in England or Wales? From the reactions to debate it seems they’d win a lot of people over. Levi, 20, student, Caerphilly
As a nationalist party whose primary aim is Scottish independence, the SNP has only ever fielded candidates in Scotland, but it’s a question that often comes up – particularly after viewers have been impressed by Nicola Sturgeon’s performance in UK-wide televised debates.
Indeed, the question of whether non-residents of Scotland could vote for the SNP featured in a list of most searched-for terms provided by Google after Sturgeon impressed voters across the UK in the first leaders’ debate of the 2015 general election campaign.
And the SNP is well aware of the usefulness of appealing to voters elsewhere: the question of whether Labour could make a post-election pact with the SNP has become one of the key debates of the general election – but also one of the Conservatives’ main attack lines.
I’m Libby Brooks, the Guardian’s Scotland correspondent, and will be answering your questions on the SNP manifesto, policies and campaign today. I’m based in Glasgow and returned to Scotland – where I grew up – on a six-month secondment to help out with coverage of the 2014 independence referendum and since then I’ve reported on some of the most seismic developments in Scottish politics for decades. Before that I was an editor and columnist on the opinion desk and have also written for features, foreign and home news over the years.
If you have a question you can send it to us by filling in the form here.
Here is the full text of the John McDonnell speech.
McDonnell says he thinks that, just as the Attlee government is remembered for founding the NHS, the Corbyn government will be remembered for setting up a national education service.
Education is not a commodity, he says. It is a gift from one generation to another. The national education service will transform lives, he says.
He says the number of young people involved in Labour’s campaign is terrific. He says he thinks people will be surprised by how many young people turn out to vote next week.
Young people have forced the climate crisis onto the agenda, he says. This is a make-or-break moment for the world.
And that’s it. The Q&A is over.
I will post a summary soon.
Q: Why were you not more explicit about the Waspi women pledge in the manifesto?
McDonnell says he was working on this for 18 months. He was worried if it got announced on manifesto day, it would be swamped by other issues. And he says he wanted the policy to be launched on a day when Labour could also launch its calculator, to show how much women might get. That took a lot of work, he says.
He says the money will be paid over five years. If the government had lost the court case on this, it would have to have paid up anyway.
He says this is a lot of money. But £100bn has been given away to the rich in tax cuts, he says. And he says when the banks were in trouble, hundreds of billions were found to bail them out.
He says he wanted a scheme that was straightforward and readily implementable. He is proud of it, he says.
McDonnell says Labour will reintroduce sectoral collective bargaining for wages. That will lead to wages going up, he says.
Q: Do you support the RMT holding a 27-day rail strike?
McDonnell says he hopes both sides will get around the table to negotiate. He says the union is trying to address safety issues.
Q: Are you worried about leave supporters not backing Labour? And what has happened to prominent remainers like Keir Starmer, who are not being put up by the party for interviews?
McDonnell says people like Starmer are campaigning all over the country.
On Brexit, he says Labour would let the people decide.
But he says this election is not just about Brexit. People are asking about other issues, he says.
Labour to announce details of its 'first 100 days' programme before polling day, says McDonnell
Q: You said you will release details of how you will fund your plans in the next few days. Isn’t that too late?
McDonnell says the questioner misunderstood the point he was making earlier. (See 11.30am.) He says what he was referring to were announcements about what would happen in the first 100 days of a Corbyn government.
The party will also announce details of its first Queen’s speech, and some details of its first budget, he says.
Q: Isn’t the idea that Labour can save families £6,700 a year make-believe?
McDonnell says Labour’s plans are costed.
And they have been tested, he says. In the party he has a reputation as a bureaucrat who insists on detail. He says Labour’s plans are credible.
But the party also has an ambitious programme, he says.
He says he wants to ensure there is never another programme like the Dispatches documentary. (See 11.14am.)
Q: Your manifesto largely protects middle-earners. Is that right?
McDonnell says he wants a fair tax system.
At the last election he was accused of having a magic money tree.
Now the Tories have a magic money forest.
If there is a magic money tree, it is in the Cayman Islands. He says Labour will dig it up and bring it back to the UK.
Q: Donald Trump says he can work with Jeremy Corbyn. Is that encouraging?
McDonnell says Labour will work well with whoever is in the White House – after the next presidential election, he jokes.
He then says the party was encouraged by what Trump said yesterday about Corbyn.
Trump has 'passing relationship with truth', says McDonnell, as he refused to accept president's NHS assurance
John McDonnell is now taking questions.
Q: Is President Trump lying when he says the NHS is not on the table in UK-US trade talks?
McDonnell says all the evidence suggests it is on the table.
Donald Trump has a passing relationship with reality and truth sometimes.
McDonnell says he will say more about how Labour would implement change before polling day.
For those of us, who believe that real change is not only necessary but readily achievable, we need to spell out in detail how concretely, step by step, that change can be brought about.
We have done that, through our manifesto and our grey book. And I’ll be saying even more about that theme in the days ahead. So that before polling day people will know not just what we want to achieve.
McDonnell says Labour policies could save families more than £7,000 a year if someone needs personal care.
That’s why Labour has a fair approach to tax: raising income tax rates for the top 5% while closing loopholes and taxing income from wealth the same as that from work.
And what a difference that could make. Paying for free childcare – saving on average almost £3,000 a year per child. Providing free school meals for all primary school children, saving parents over £400 and ensuring that no child struggles to concentrate because of hunger. Paying for the personal care that we or our family members might need in old age. If you or someone in your family needs care at home, that could mean a saving of over £7,000 a year. Paying for a reduction in rail fares, to keep the cost of living down and encourage more people on to public transport. And paying for free prescriptions, saving those with monthly prescriptions over a hundred pounds a year.
Ask our experts a question
As part of our election coverage you can ask our political team any questions you have about the general election, and they will post their responses on the politics live blog between 12.30pm and 1.30pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until polling week.
Today, Libby Brooks, the Guardian’s Scotland correspondent, will answer your questions about the SNP manifesto. You can ask your question via our form here.
McDonnell dismisses claims that providing services for free is unrealistic.
Because you’ve heard the Tories and Liberal Democrats over recent weeks telling you that the essentials of life can’t be provided free at the point of use, paid for through taxation. And you’re a dreamer if you think otherwise. The same people whose political ancestors would have laughed at the idea of free healthcare, free roads or education are now telling you that we can’t possibly provide free social care, prescriptions or childcare.
McDonnell summarises some of the Labour measures that would lift living standards.
In our exciting manifesto launched two weeks ago, Labour set out its plan for real change. Change that will help tackle that burden of rising living costs. How can we do that? After nearly 10 years during which it’s seemed impossible that anything might change. I’ll tell you where it starts. It starts with adopting the principle of “do no harm”. “At least don’t make things worse.” So we’ll scrap universal credit, stopping its rollout and putting in place a package of fixes while we design a replacement that’s fit for purpose.
Of course that won’t help everyone. We need to raise wages across the country so people don’t need to rely on universal credit. That starts with our real living wage: £10 an hour, straight away, for everyone over 16. An average pay rise of up to £6,000 a year. A pay rise for seven and a half million people.
For public sector workers, it’s a boost of 5% in the first year of a Labour government ...
Our proposals to bring the major energy companies into public ownership has been independently estimated to save an average of £142 a year, while our proposals to retrofit almost every home in the country would slash the average household bill by over £400 a year.
McDonnell says many people have had problems with the cost of living over the last decade. Stagnant wages have not affected just a few people; a majority of people have lost out, he says.
He claims families have lost almost £6,000 a year as a result of Tory policies.
Labour has published today a report setting out the cost to most, of the nearly 10 years of the Conservatives in government and the policies of privatisation under successive Conservative governments. Going all the way back to the Thatcher and Major administrations selling off our nation’s public utilities and natural assets. ‘The family silver’ – as a former Conservative prime minister called it.
Profiteering through privatisation and the Conservatives’ failure to curb rising bills has cost families nearly £6,000 a year since 2010. While wages are still lower than before the financial crash, inaction and economic mismanagement by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats over the past decade has meant the cost of living for millions of households has soared.
John McDonnell's speech
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, is giving a speech in Birmingham now.
He says he watched the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary about child poverty on Monday. It was shocking, he says. He urges people who have not seen it to watch it.
The Guardian review of the programme is here.
Here is a question from below the line.
Do candidates see postal votes before election day?
Candidates, or their agents, do get to see postal votes as they come in. They don’t get counted before polling day, but when they are opened someone has to check they are in order, and that process is overseen by the candidates.
But, under election law, no one is allowed to release information about how people have actually voted until polls close.
So, if a candidate were to say ‘Postal votes show we’re on X%, and our rivals are on Y%’, they would probably be committing an offence.
In the video clip cited above, in response to a question about his seat being at risk, Dominic Raab says: “Have a look at the postal votes.” But, beyond giving a knowing look, he does not go much further than that, saying he is not giving too much away.
No one is likely to be marching him away in handcuffs on the basis of that.
Police called as Extinction Rebellion protester glues himself to Lib Dem battlebus
Extinction Rebellion protesters have targeted the Liberal Democrats this morning, with one of them gluing himself to the Lib Dem battlebus. These are from my colleague Peter Walker, who is there.
At his press conference later Donald Trump may be asked about the video that appeared to show world leaders including Boris Johnson, Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron joking about him at a reception last night. Our story about it is here. And here is the video.
Independence for Scotland would probably mean more, not less, austerity in short term, says IFS
There’s an interesting analysis of the SNP’s manifesto from the Institute of Fiscal Studies this morning. Writing in the Scotsman, the associate director of the IFS David Phillips notes the absence of costings from the document launched by Nicola Sturgeon in Glasgow last week, but suggests that this may be because the spending plans would necessitate more, not less, austerity for Scotland if it were to become independent.
Acknowledging that the manifesto “isn’t really about a plan of action for five years of governing the UK – rather it is about starting the process of leaving the UK in the next year”, Phillips points out that plans including increasing NHS spending across the UK by £136 per head to close the gap with Scotland would require significant outlay at a time when an independent Scotland was also starting out with a serious budget deficit.
Pursuing the types of policies suggested in the SNP manifesto in an independent Scotland would mean either those cuts would have to be even bigger, or other taxes would have to be increased to pay for the proposed net giveaways ... in the short-term at least, independence would likely necessitate more not less austerity.
It should be noted that the IFS has already described both Labour and Conservative manifesto spending plans as “not credible”.
The SNP’s own growth commission report on the economics of independence accepted that a newly independent Scotland would have to cut spending significantly in order to manage its deficit.
Boris Johnson is delivering a speech at the opening of the Nato summit. He says:
The fact that we live in peace today demonstrates the power of the simple proposition at the heart of this alliance: that for as long as we stand together, no one could hope to defeat us – and therefore no one will start a war.
This essential principle is enshrined in article 5 of the North Atlantic treaty: that if any one of us is attacked, all of us will go to their defence.
If Nato has a motto, it is: one for all, and all for one.
And here’s the Boris Johnson/Donald Trump handshake.
President Trump has now posed for a photograph with Boris Johnson. It came after Johnson and Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary general, formally welcomed him to the summit. Johnson and Stoltenberg had a handshake and picture with every Nato leader one by one, ahead of the “family photo” taking place about now.
On his arrival at the Nato summit the French president, Emmanuel Macron, defended his recent claim that the organisation was experiencing “brain death”. Asked if he still stood by the comment, he replied:
Yes, absolutely. In fact it allowed us to raise some crucial debates.
He said those included how to create a durable peace in Europe and clarifying who was the enemy.
So I think it was our responsibility to raise ambiguities that could be harmful, and to tackle a real strategic debate. It has started, I am satisfied.
STV's Scottish leaders' debate last night - summary
If you’re a UK viewer living outside Scotland, and feeling deprived of your leaders’ debate fix last night, then read on. It’s fair to say that STV’s debate between the Scottish party leaders – excluding Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens, bizarrely – was rather a shout-fest, although it was refreshing to see Nicola Sturgeon properly interrogated on Holyrood policy, which seldom happens when she takes part in the UK-wide debates. But of course that’s because education, health and so on are devolved – so while it was good to see those areas covered, they are not technically relevant to a UK general election.
The format, which really felt its lack of a live audience, involved a series of questions and interrogations of each leader by the other politicians, rather than by the host, Colin Mackay, and so lent itself to people (men, Sturgeon was the only woman there) talking across one another.
At one point I looked up from my notes to see the Scottish Conservatives’ Jackson Carlaw shouting at the Lib Dems’ Willie Rennie, Rennie shouting at Labour’s Richard Leonard, and Sturgeon standing there with her arms folded like a teacher who has already tried multiple timeouts with the kids and is now just waiting for the lunch bell to go.
Some interesting points: Tory leader Carlaw urged viewers to “lend us your vote to stop indyref2” – clearly the anti-independence message is working as well for the Scottish Tories, if not better than getting Brexit done. Challenged on Boris Johnson’s previous remarks about Muslim women and gay men, he admitted they were “completely unacceptable”, but insisted he would judge him on his performance in office. Carlaw and Rennie attacked Labour’s “clear as mud” position on Brexit, mocking Leonard for being “constantly overruled” by Jeremy Corbyn. Leonard struggled to answer the charge that voters didn’t trust Corbyn to stand up for the union.
Sturgeon failed to offer a plan B if a new Tory (or Labour) government refused her demand for the powers to hold a second independence referendum next year. Challenged on putting independence before public services, her defence of the latest Pisa report, which saw Scotland achieve its lowest scores in maths and science since it first took part in the survey almost 20 years ago and reported that pupils’ performance in reading tests had recovered only to the level it was at in 2012, was weak. But at least it prompted the zingiest response of the debate from Rennie:
If you are telling me that a line on a chart going down is optimistic, then the problem of numeracy in your government goes right to the top.
Boris Johnson, or whoever controls his Twitter account, has just posted a picture of the PM meeting a blonde-haired admirer yesterday. But not that one ...
President Trump has also retweeted the group photograph from last night.
President Trump has tweeted about his meeting with Boris Johnson last night. But he hasn’t included a picture.
President Macron has arrived at the Nato summit venue.
Arriving at the Nato summit Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary general, said he was confident differences with Turkey over a new alliance defence plan to protect the Baltic states and Poland could be resolved. As the Press Association reports, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has threatened to block the plan after criticism of Turkey’s incursion against the Kurds in northern Syria. Stoltenberg said:
I am confident that we will find a solution to the updating of the revised defence plan.
He said Nato leaders would for the first time discuss the rise of China, which was now the world’s second biggest spender on defence. “This provides opportunities and also challenges,” he said.
On his arrival at the Nato summit, Boris Johnson was asked why he was avoiding being photographed with Donald Trump. (See 8.40am.) Johnson said he would be photographed with every Nato leader.
Agenda for the day
Our main focus here will be all news relating to the general election campaign, and not all the news from the Nato summit, but obviously there will be an overlap. In terms of Nato coverage, we will be focusing in particular on what gets said at the final press conferences from Boris Johnson and Donald Trump.
Here is the agenda for the day.
From 7.45am: Nato leaders arrive at the summit.
10am: The Nato summit officially starts.
11am: John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, gives a speech in Birmingham. As my colleague Heather Stewart reports, he will claim that a Labour government would save families an average of £6,700 a year by “putting a stop to rip-off Britain”.
2pm: Johnson is due to hold a press conference at the end of the Nato summit.
3pm: Trump is due to hold his own press conference.
7.30pm: Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, is interviewed by Andrew Neil on BBC One.
Boris Johnson arrives for Nato summit after 'very good' meeting with Trump last night
Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, taking over from Damien Gayle.
Boris Johnson has arrived for the Nato summit taking place at a hotel outside Watford. On his way in, he said he had had a “very good” bilateral meeting with Donald Trump in No 10 last night. He continued:
We discussed the future of Nato, we discussed what is going on in Syria and various other matters.
However, Johnson does not seem to have thought it was important enough for the photographers to have been allowed to record it. Trump is seen as electorally toxic in the UK (he came close to admitting as much yesterday) and, although Johnson and Trump attended events at both Buckingham Palace and No 10 yesterday, as well as having their own bilateral, there is still not public picture of just the two men together.
On his arrival at the Nato summit, Johnson also said there was more that united the alliance than divided it. He said:
Clearly it is very important that the alliance stays together, but there is far, far more that unites us than divides us.
Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade secretary, has mounted a stout defence of Jeremy Corbyn’s record on foreign intervention and his attitude to Nato, suggesting that his peace-promoting credentials are in fact the best defence policy for Britain.
Corbyn has, as they say in politics, been on a journey as regards his position on Nato. Five years ago – as a backbencher – he was speaking at an anti-Nato conference. Now, the Labour party he leads is campaigning on a manifesto promise to maintain the UK’s commitment to Nato.
Responding to suggestions that Corbyn was ambivalent over Nato, which many consider a cornerstone of the UK’s national defence, Gardiner retorted:
The way you defend this country is to make sure that you don’t go on foreign wars and don’t start bombing before you have started thinking.
Ouch! Gardiner was challenged: Is that what Nato does? He continued:
Consistently, if you look at the Iraq war, who was on the right side of history on that? Jeremy Corbyn was not the president at the time and indeed not the Labour party at the time under Tony Blair. But all of parliament went into that, Jeremy Corbyn did not.
What I’m saying is that if you look at the way in which we want to use a defensive alliance it is to think carefully through positions, to learn the lessons of the Chilcot report, learn about how we should try and prevent conflict and de-escalate a situation, rather than actually then promoting a conflict.
When we went into Libya, when we joined the bombing raid on Libya, we were told it was absolutely essential to do that. I didn’t vote for that, neither did Jeremy Corbyn. That has proved to be a disaster. It’s proved to allow groups like Isis to form and take control and to make that country a complete basket case.
Speaking on Today this morning, Jeremy Hunt denied any knowledge of talks between the UK and the US on NHS drugs pricing, despite documents unearthed recently showing that officials began negotiations during his tenure as health secretary.
“When I was health secretary, I wasn’t aware of any talks going on with the United States at all,” said Hunt, who left his post as foreign secretary when Boris Johnson became prime minister.
In so far as there have been preliminary discussions between officials on both sides, not between politicians, we have made absolutely clear that NHS drugs prices are not on the table.
I’m afraid this is the traditional scare story. What would really damage the NHS are economic policies that destroy jobs in the economy and destroy the tax base that the NHS depends on.
We have at the moment a very, very radical economic platform from John McDonnell which would do immense damage to our tax base and therefore our ability to fund the NHS.
Since that last post, it’s Damien Gayle now at the helm of the blog, taking over from my colleague Kate Lyonsr, and filling in while Andy Sparrow eats his cornflakes and limbers up to take you through the day’s political drama.
Nato leaders worried about prospect of Corbyn becoming PM, says Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary, has come out with all guns blazing over Jeremy Corbyn’s attitude to Nato, the transatlantic alliance meeting in London.
Last night, the heads of government of the Nato member states met for tea with the Queen at Buckingham palace, amid concern over the alliance’s future after Donald Trump’s complaints that other allies were not spending enough on guns and soldiers.
Speaking on the Today programme, Hunt backed Trump’s comments, pointing out that France, for example, spends just 1.5% of its total budget on defence, compared with the US spend of 4%, which he claimed contributed towards “a third of the cost of defending Europe”. But, he added:
The biggest thing on the minds of those Nato leaders which they are perhaps not talking about is that in eight days’ time the second-most important member of Nato [I think he means us] could elect the most anti-Nato, anti-western leader in the history of the alliance, and Jeremy Corbyn’s been very open in the past about wanting to dismantle Nato.
What the papers said
A story to give you a chuckle over your breakfast: a Tory councillor climbed dustbins and scaled a school fence to escape a climate crisis debate after she met with a crowd unimpressed with her answers.
Nancy Bikson’s great escape would have stayed secret were it not for a 13-year-old girl who saw the incident at Priory school in Lewes, East Sussex.
Trust me, everything about this story is designed to amuse.
The day ahead
- The prime minister’s time will be split between campaigning in the home counties and hosting leaders for the Nato summit.
- Jeremy Corbyn is campaigning in the East Midlands, while John McDonnell gives a speech on the economy in the West Midlands outlining how Labour’s policies will save average people money.
- In the Lib Dem camp, Jo Swinson will visit a youth centre in London and then sit down for her Andrew Neil interview, which will be broadcast at 7.30pm.
- The Brexit party leader, Nigel Farage, will speak at a public meeting in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, in the morning while the SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, will campaign in Edinburgh. The Ulster Unionist party will launch its manifesto in Belfast.
Good morning and welcome to the Guardian live blog, where we bring you all the politics news you could possibly want. We’re a little more than a week out from the election and there’s a lot going on today, so strap in.
Donald Trump’s presence in the UK for Nato talks continues to loom over the election. The summit started with heated exchanges and further tensions are expected as leaders meet again today. Donald Trump is seen as an electoral liability for the Conservatives over fears that he may be interested in putting the NHS on the table in US-UK trade talks – though yesterday the president categorically denied the US was interested in the health service. Boris Johnson has so far managed to keep his distance from Trump, with Marina Hyde writing that Johnson will continue to studiously avoid the president because “Tories sense even a handshake with Trump could piss their electoral bed”.
Meanwhile, Labour will today try to convince voters of the financial benefit of electing a Corbyn government. The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, will say his party’s policies would save families an average of £6,700 a year by “putting a stop to rip-off Britain” as Labour narrows its focus to bread-and-butter issues.
In a dossier to be published alongside the speech, McDonnell will claim that policies including nationalising utilities and reducing the cost of rail season tickets – as well as free childcare for all two- to four-year-olds, free prescription charges and free school meals – will help the hip pocket of average households.
However, Labour candidates are privately concerned about the scattergun nature of the giveaways, with one Labour saying the manifesto, while good, is “just long and confusing” and some promises could appear too good to be true.