Closing summary

But that’s it from us this evening. Thanks for reading and commenting. Here’s a summary of the day’s main events:

  • Aspects of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal would obstruct US-UK trade, Donald Trump claimed in a UK radio interview. No 10 sought to counter the claim, which has the potential to seriously damage Boris Johnson’s election campaign, shortly after the interview was broadcast on LBC.
  • Labour batted away criticism from Trump, with the party’s leader accusing the US president of interfering in the UK’s general election. Trump claimed the US did not require the NHS to be on the table in any post-Brexit bilateral trade talks. But Corbyn pointed out that it was Trump who had said it did only a few months ago.
  • The US president used the interview with his ally Nigel Farage, the Brexit party leader, to try to offer backing to Boris Johnson. He said Corbyn would be “so bad” for the UK and that Farage and Johnson would be an “unstoppable force” if they joined up. Some observers suggested the comments could be more useful to Corbyn than to Johnson.
  • Labour launched its general election campaign, with the party’s leader insisting he will not be its focus. “It’s not about me. It’s not about any individual on this platform. It’s not a presidential election,” Corbyn said when asked about his own personal extremely low approval ratings.
  • Corbyn pledged to immediately begin buying property to house rough sleepers if Labour win the election. The Labour leader added that everyone delivering NHS services should be an NHS employee but he refused to commit Labour to abolishing public schools. He also sidestepped a question about how he would vote in the referendum Labour plans to hold after the election offering a choice between remain and a soft Brexit. You can read a summary of his key points here.
  • Johnson was accused of preventing the publication of a report assessing the security threat posed to the UK by Russia. The cross-party intelligence and security committee said it had expected him to approve publication by now.
  • The former Conservative MP, Antoinette Sandbach, joined the Lib Dems. Sandbach, one of 21 Tory MPs to be kicked out for voting against the government, will contest her current seat on behalf of her new party.
  • A £100,000 grant awarded to the US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri’s Hacker House company has been declared “appropriate” by the government’s internal audit agency. The report was immediately labelled a “whitewash” by Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson.
  • The prime minister could be poised to sound the death knell for the UK’s controversial shale gas industry after more than a decade of support for fracking, according to sources. Johnson could promise an effective ban as part of his election campaign and green groups believe it could help kill off the industry.
  • The Labour MP Keith Vaz has been formally suspended from the Commons for six months for offering to buy drugs for sex workers and failing to cooperate with an investigation. The move was endorsed without a vote after a brief Commons debate.

If you’d like to read yet more, my colleague Rowena Mason has the full story:

Updated

My colleague, Peter Walker, has just published a story on Sandbach joining the Lib Dems:

In June, as the Tory leadership contest raged, Sandbach complained of abuse at the hands of male party colleagues. She tweeted an image of messages she said were from one and suggested that similar abuse had been behind the decisions of three female former Conservative MPs to leave the party.

Sandbach, who was then still a Tory MP and was supporting Rory Stewart in the party’s leadership race, said the message read: “You too are a disgrace. Time you left the party I think.” She added:

Barely is the ink dry on the results and the dark ops begin. This from a male conservative MP to me as I sit on the train home.

She tagged it with the words “completewankspangle” but later deleted the tweet. In a supplementary tweet that remained live, she wrote:

It’s bad enough when you get it from complete strangers. Is it any wonder three female MPs left.

Just last week, my colleague Maya Wolfe-Robinson visited Sandbach’s constituency; a safe Tory seat is estimated to have voted 52% in favour of leave in the referendum.

She reported that Sandbach felt her stance – voting for Theresa May’s deal, but against a no-deal Brexit – reflected her constituents’ views. Here’s what she found when she spoke to some of them:

Earlier this month, Sandbach lost a vote of confidence among members of her local Conservative party association.

She was appealing the withdrawal of the Tory whip, following the prime minister’s decision to remove it after she voted with opposition MPs to take control of the Commons order paper in September.

But Tory party members in her Eddisbury constituency in Cheshire passed a vote of no confidence in her. The ballot was symbolic but opened the door to formal deselection. At the time, Sandbach complained of “entryism” and said she was granted only six minutes to set out her defence.

This is obviously deeply disappointing, but I won’t allow an unrepresentative handful of people decide who gets to be the MP for tens of thousands of Eddisbury voters.

All my constituents can rest assured that I will continue to represent them in parliament, standing up for a sensible, pragmatic Brexit deal and confirming that it is what the people want through a ‘final say’ confirmatory referendum.

Former Conservative MP joins Lib Dems

Antoinette Sandbach has become the latest of the 21 MPs from whom the Tory whip was withdrawn last month to move over the Lib Dems, the party has announced.

Sandbach will stand for the party for her current seat in the constituency of Eddisbury, in Cheshire, on 12 December. As the news was announced tonight, she said:

This general election will be the most important in my lifetime. People have a very clear choice, the Conservative party offers years of uncertainty whilst the Liberal Democrats will stop Brexit.

I’m so proud to stand alongside other Liberal Democrat candidates across the country to fight for a brighter future with Jo Swinson, our candidate to be prime minister.

I will stand on my strong local record, helping to secure local investment, fighting for fair funding for our schools and to secure additional funding in local health services.

Our country deserves so much better than Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. I can’t wait to get to work, win this election and then deliver for my constituents and our country.

Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, has added:

I am delighted to welcome Antoinette to the Liberal Democrats. She is a passionate campaigner, and will be a fantastic candidate at the general election and a great addition to our party. Her defection clearly shows that the Liberal Democrats are the strongest party of Remain and attracting support from right across the political spectrum.

Antoinette is one of the millions of people who are tired of the two old parties, led by people who will take our country backwards, not forwards. It is only the Liberal Democrats that will stop Brexit and build the brighter future that our country deserves.

The BBC is set to reject Labour’s complaint about a Panorama documentary which alleged widespread antisemitism in Jeremy Corbyn’s party, according to individuals with knowledge of the case.

The decision is likely to set up a clash between the public broadcaster and the opposition that will run during the forthcoming general election campaign.

The episode of Panorama entitled “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” was broadcast this summer and made a number of claims about Labour’s attitude towards the issue in recent years. It interviewed party activists and officials who said they were undermined by senior Labour bosses in their attempts to tackle antisemitism.

Labour strongly rejected the programme’s conclusions, which included suggestions from a group of whistleblowers including the former general secretary Iain McNicol that Jeremy Corbyn’s director of strategy and communications, Seumas Milne, and the current general secretary, Jennie Formby, interfered with investigations into antisemitism.

However, the Guardian has learned that the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit, the top level of the broadcaster’s internal complaints process, has finished investigating the concerns raised by Labour and decided to back the programme-makers. A BBC spokesperson declined to comment.

My colleague, Rowena Mason, has just published this story on Boris Johnson’s “PR stunt” visit to a Cambridgeshire hospital:

Julia Simons, a 23-year-old medical student, who had confronted the prime minister, said:

Staff were not informed even when he was in the hospital. He was too cowardly to face the uncensored opinions of staff because we know the reality the effects of his government’s and party’s policies on patients.

Updated

A No 10 spokesman has contradicted Trump’s claim that a UK-US trade deal might not be possible under Boris Johnson’s Brexit withdrawal agreement.

The PM negotiated a new deal which ensures that we take back control of our laws, trade, borders and money; a deal which people said he would never negotiate. Under this new deal, the whole of the UK will leave the EU customs union, which means we can strike our own free trade deals around the world from which every part of the UK will benefit.

Updated

Last night, my colleague Rowena Mason reported that the Tories’ election campaign was set to be run by Isaac Levido, the former right-hand man of Lynton Crosby. The PM’s de facto chief of staff, Dominic Cummings, was not due to be centrally involved and had remained in Downing Street, she reported.

This evening, she has this update:

Dominic Cummings has told Spads tonight that Isaac Levido is in charge of Tory campaign, not him, and he may yet go for his November medical operation - as we reported yesterday https://t.co/CmZfHHe6Em

— Rowena Mason (@rowenamason) October 31, 2019

It emerged earlier this afternoon that an inquiry had concluded the £100,000 government grant given to a firm run by Jennifer Arcuri, the US businesswoman embroiled in a conflict of interest row over her close friendship with Boris Johnson, was “appropriate”.

The shadow culture secretary and Labour deputy leader, Tom Watson, has now said:

This ‘review’ is a complete whitewash. The documents published raise more questions than we had before. No one reading Hacker House’s grant application would give the company a penny, let alone £100,000 of tax payers’ money.

The fundamental question of why Hacker House was ever given this grant remains unanswered. The public deserve to know why their money was handled so irresponsibly. We will not let this lie.

On Corbyn, Trump said:

I have great relationships with many of the leaders, including Boris. He’s a fantastic man and I think he’s the exact right guy for the time and I know you and him will end up doing something that could be terrific if you (Farage) and he, if you and he get together as, you know, an unstoppable force.

And Corbyn would be so bad for your country. He’d be so bad, he’d take you in such a bad way. He’d take you into such bad places. But, your country has tremendous potential, it’s a great country.

Updated

Trump told LBC he has got on well with both the current and former prime ministers on a personal level. Referring to the current occupant of No 10, Trump said:

Oh yeah, Boris and I have a great friendship, we’ve become friends. Boris and I, when he was running they were saying: ‘He’s the Trump, he’s the Trump.’ We have a lot of the same things going, I guess.

Boris is a terrific guy, you know that he’s a terrific guy. I think it was time for Boris, it was time you needed him.

As some correspondents in Westminster have pointed out, this could end up playing better for Labour than for the Conservatives:

This intervention helpful for Corbyn. Last thing he wants is endorsement from Trump. Lab leader chose to address an anti-Trump rally during Potus state visit in June.
BUT Trump also revealed to me in Q&A at press conference, that Corbyn had asked to meet him. And he'd said no https://t.co/aafxpmxpH3

— Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) October 31, 2019

Trump intervention is indeed a gift for Jeremy Corbyn, but surely also for Boris Johnson. What do we think 'Workington man' makes of President Trump? In reality the two campaigns are targeting different core voters.

— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) October 31, 2019

This Trump/Farage interview is just extraordinary.

Can’t help but feel it’s very patronising of the Prime Minister and the UK.

Labour will big time use this to their advantage.

— Sophia Sleigh (@SophiaSleigh) October 31, 2019

Referring to his relationships with Theresa May, Trump told LBC:

Well, I liked her very much. You know, I disagreed with certain things that she did but I like her; she was always very nice to me, I was nice to her ... I told her exactly how to make a deal but she didn’t listen to me and that’s okay; not everybody listens to me. Some people do.

According to May, Trump’s advice to her was to “sue the European Union”.

Updated

Trump also suggested that gossip about the US having its eyes on the NHS may have started with the Labour leader, telling LBC:

I don’t even know where your healthcare system started with respect to us taking over your healthcare system. I mean it’s so ridiculous I think Corbyn put that out there.

In reality, besides Trump having himself put it out there (see previous post), his ambassador to London, Woody Johnson, has also explicitly and publicly raised the prospect.

Updated

On US designs on parts of the NHS, Trump told LBC:

No, not at all, we wouldn’t even be involved in that no. We’re trying to fix our health service. We all have our health service problems ... No. it’s not for us to have anything to do with your healthcare system. No, we’re just talking about trade.

The US president has previously contradicted himself on whether or not Washington would want the NHS on the table in trade talks. In June, he said:

When you’re dealing on trade, everything is on the table. So NHS or anything else. A lot more than that.

Later the same day, he said:

I don’t see [the NHS] being on the table. Somebody asked me a question today and I say everything is up for negotiation, because everything is. But that’s something I would not see as part of trade. That’s not trade.

Here’s what Trump told Farage on his discussions with the prime minister over the latter’s Brexit deal:

We wanna do trade with the UK and they wanna do trade with us and, to be honest with you, this deal – under certain aspects of the deal – you can’t do it, you can’t do it, you can’t trade.

Trump added that the US would be barred from some parts of the UK market under Johnson’s deal; a situation that he said “would be ridiculous”.

Updated

Reacting to Trump’s LBC interview, the Lib Dems’ foreign affairs spokesman, Chuka Umunna, has said:

Donald Trump is unfit to hold the office of president of the United States. Boris Johnson is unfit to be prime minister of the United Kingdom.

This endorsement is yet another example of the cuddly relationship between the two men. As the saying goes, you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep.

Trump is a bully, a misogynist and a racist. Yet the Conservatives have fawned to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with him. A trade deal that would threaten food standards and our precious NHS.

Liberal Democrats will continue to stand up to regressive politics and will continue to fight to stop Brexit and build a brighter future.

As has been suggested elsewhere, Farage has opened himself up to claims of hypocrisy by inviting a sitting US president to intervene when the UK is preparing to vote on its future.

Nigel Farage on when it is and isn't ok for foreign leaders to interfere in UK politics. pic.twitter.com/PgdwNJvLMT

— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) October 31, 2019

Here’s what the Brexit party leader told Fox News in 2016 in reaction to Barack Obama saying the UK would be at the back of the queue in trade negotiations if it voted to leave the EU:

Vladimir Putin behaved in a more statesmanlike manner than President Obama did in this referendum campaign. Obama came to Britain and, I think, behaved disgracefully; telling us we would be at the back of the queue. Vladimir Putin maintained his silence throughout the whole campaign.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has responded to Trump’s interview with LBC, tweeting:

Donald Trump is trying to interfere in Britain’s election to get his friend Boris Johnson elected.

It was Trump who said in June the NHS is “on the table”. And he knows if Labour wins US corporations won’t get their hands on it.

Our NHS is not for sale.pic.twitter.com/AUhht3pCgL

— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 31, 2019

Corbyn’s referring to Trump’s claim that the US would have no involvement in the NHS under a post-Brexit US-UK trade deal. The US president has, at different times, said the NHS would and would not be on the table in any such negotiations.

Donald Trump opened his interview with LBC by again repeating his nonsense claim to have correctly predicted the result of the Brexit referendum when he opened his Turnberry golf course on 24 June 2016.

The Brexit referendum was held on 23 June 2016.

Trump’s interviewer, the political campaigner and Brexit party leader, Nigel Farage, nodded, said “yep” and allowed the false claim to pass.

Updated

Afternoon summary

  • Donald Trump has used an interview with his ally Nigel Farage, the Brexit party leader and LBC broadcaster, to intervene in the UK election. Trump said that Jeremy Corbyn would be “so bad” for the UK, and that Farage and Boris Johnson would be an “unstoppable force” if they joined up in some way. (See 5.28pm.)

World Exclusive: President @realDonaldTrump told @Nigel_Farage, Corbyn "would be so bad for your country, he'd take you into such bad places" #TrumpOnLBC pic.twitter.com/bbECEYbYSC

— LBC (@LBC) October 31, 2019
  • Trump also criticised Johnson’s Brexit plan, saying it could obstruct a UK-US trade deal. (See 5.28pm.)

That’s all from me for today.

My colleague Kevin Rawlinson is now taking over.

Labour brushes aside criticism from Donald Trump

On Radio 4’s PM programme Andy McDonald, the shadow transport secretary, dismissed President Trump’s claim that a Jeremy Corbyn government would take Britain into a bad place. (See 5.28pm.) McDonald said:

I think the bad place a lot of Americans experienced [is] at the hands of Donald Trump. So I’m really not concerned that Nigel Farage and Donald Trump have reaffirmed their commitment to one another.

We do know that the American pharmaceutical industry is very interested in our national health service and we have made it abundantly clear that the NHS is not for sale and Donald Trump is not going get anywhere near our NHS. And nor are we enthused at the prospect of chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef coming into our country with low standards for food safety. We are not going to be tolerating anything like that.

Updated

Here is some comment from journalists on the Trump interview.

From the BBC’s Jon Sopel

Incredible statement from ⁦@realDonaldTrump⁩ on #GeneralElection19 - in effect calls for ⁦@Nigel_Farage⁩ and ⁦@BorisJohnson⁩ to work together; says ⁦@jeremycorbyn⁩ “would be so bad for your country.”
So much for staying out of other countries elections pic.twitter.com/awJqpGAqpZ

— Jon Sopel (@BBCJonSopel) October 31, 2019

From my colleague Paul Johnson

Donald Trump intervenes telling Nigel Farage via ⁦@LBC⁩ :

‘You and Boris Johnson, if you got together, would be an unstoppable force. Jeremy Corbyn would be so bad for your country’

-Labour should play that quote over and over and over again pic.twitter.com/o77G2e4bPM

— Paul Johnson (@paul__johnson) October 31, 2019

From the Mail on Sunday’s Dan Hodges

Donald Trump going on LBC to heap praise on Boris and attack Corbyn is exactly what Corbyn needs and exactly what Boris doesn't need.

— (((Dan Hodges))) (@DPJHodges) October 31, 2019

Trump criticises Johnson's Brexit plan, saying it could hinder UK-US trade deal

The Brexit party leader, Nigel Farage, has recorded an interview with his political ally Donald Trump for his LBC radio show. The whole thing is being broadcast later, but LBC has just broadcast a clip, and it included Trump saying that he thought Farage should be uniting in some way with Boris Johnson. Together Johnson and Farage would be an “unstoppable force”, Trump said.

Trump also said that there were aspects of Johnson’s Brexit deal that would obstruct a UK-US trade deal. He said:

To be honest with you, this deal, under certain aspects of the deal, you can’t do it, you can’t do it, you can’t trade. We can’t make a trade deal with the UK ...

Under certain ways, we’re precluded - which would be ridiculous.

From the extract broadcast just now, it is not clear exactly why Trump thought the Brexit plan would hinder a trade deal, but he may have been referring to its level playing field proposals.

Trump rejected claims, which Jeremy Corbyn has been making strongly, that the NHS would be threatened by a UK-US trade deal. Health would not be a part of any deal, Trump claimed. “It is not for us to have anything to do with your healthcare system,” he said.

Trump claimed UK-US trade could be four or five times higher than it is now under a deal, which he said would make Britain “much bigger economically than it is right now”.

And Trump claimed Corbyn would bad for the UK. He said:

Corbyn would be so bad for your country, he’d be so bad, he’d take you on such a bad way. He’d take you into such bad places.

Corbyn is unlikely to lose any sleep over this non-endorsement. According to YouGov, two thirds of Britons have a negative opinion of Trump. Only 19% have a positive view of him - and they are unlikely to include many potential Labour voters.

Hear me talk to President Trump at 6pm tonight on LBC.

We will be discussing Brexit, Boris, Corbyn, the NHS and impeachment. pic.twitter.com/v2v2PZ82AF

— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) October 31, 2019

Updated

The legislation to allow the early election has now had royal assent, the BBC’s Nick Eardley reports.

Royal Assent granted for Early Election Act

12 December is official

— Nick Eardley (@nickeardleybbc) October 31, 2019

With John Bercow standing down as Speaker at the end of today, here is a Guardian compilation of some of the highlights of his time in the chair.

And here are some excerpts from what was said when MPs paid tribute to him yesterday.

Boris Johnson was booed as he ended a visit to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, the Cambridge News reports. There is a story here and a live blog covering the visit here.

The pro-Labour Skwawkbox blog has also posted some footage.

Johnson flees Addenbrookes hospital to loud booing by staff, patients and campaigners. One staff member asked, "What the **** did he think was going to happen?"
For more, see https://t.co/J6OCvS74Rt pic.twitter.com/JcwpakHNPa

— The SKWAWKBOX (@skwawkbox) October 31, 2019

These are from Mark Urban, Newsnight’s diplomatic editor, on the story that Boris Johnson has been accused of holding back the publication of a report from parliament’s intelligence and security report looking at the issue of Russian interference in British elections.

The Parliamentary Intelligence & Security Cttee report on Russian actions against the UK was sent to No10 on 17/10 with the idea it should be released on 28/10, before the election, but No10 has not signed it off 1/3

— Mark Urban (@MarkUrban01) October 31, 2019

I understand that the Int & Sec Cttee report includes evidence from the UK intelligence services concerning Russian attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 Brexit referendum and 2017 General Election 2/3

— Mark Urban (@MarkUrban01) October 31, 2019

The report will have to be released by Tuesday at latest before current committee is dissolved, & failure to do so because of a refusal by No10 to sign it off may be seen by many as an attempt to suppress evidence of previous Russian attempts to subvert UK polls 3/3

— Mark Urban (@MarkUrban01) October 31, 2019

Updated

Labour would run minority government rather than form coalition or pact with another party, says McDonnell

Labour would rather run a minority government if necessary than try to form a coalition or pact with another party, the shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said. Speaking to Sky News this morning, at the Labour campaign launch, McDonnell said he expected the party to win a majority. But when asked what would happen if it didn’t, but if it was still in a position to govern (ie, it was the largest party in a hung parliament), he replied:

We would run a minority government. We’d implement the policies and we’d expect the other parties to support them. If they didn’t, well, we’ll go back to the people. Look, who wouldn’t vote for a £10 living wage? Who wouldn’t vote for the way in which we want to solve Brexit, going back to the people? Who wouldn’t vote for actually ensuring we invested in all our public services, and a fair taxation system?

Asked if Labour would consider a confidence and supply agreement with one of the smaller parties, McDonnell went on:

No deals, no deals. We do in as a majority government. If there is a minority, we will implement our manifesto, full stop.

Labour government would 'immediately' start buying property to house rough sleepers, says Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has said that Labour will “immediately” start rehousing the homeless if it wins the election. Speaking at a campaign event in Milton Keynes, Corbyn called the level of homelessness in the UK a “disgrace and insult to our country”, and promised a Labour government would end austerity. As the Press Assocaition reports, he said:

On our first day in office, we will immediately buy all the properties necessary to house the rough sleepers.

Boris Johnson made an election stop at a primary school in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, where he joined a group of children in an activity sorting pictures of London into past and present, the Press Association reports. The PM held one black and white image aloft and suggested “past?”. One pupil agreed and said it “looks dirtier”, to which the prime minister replied: “That was when Ken Livingstone was running it.”

Referring to a photo of London Bridge, Johnson told the youngsters: “You know what they used to do? They used to stick the decapitated heads of the enemies on spikes.”

He also visited a classroom where children were mummifying pumpkins with salt, and another where they made firework collages.

Updated

At the last election the conventional opinion polls turned out to be a very poor guide to the result. On that basis some people argue they should be ignored completely, but the political parties take them seriously, they are better than most other ways of trying to gauge public opinion and even sceptics will admit that they pick up movements in opinion, even if they don’t provide a reliable guide to the final result.

With that in mind, here are the results of the three polls around today.

Mr Johnson has the best personal scores of any leader since 2017, with 46% satisfied and 44% dissatisfied — a net score of plus 2.

Conservatives are overwhelmingly happy with their leader, with 80% satisfied and 9% dissatisfied.

Mr Corbyn has failed to improve since last month’s record-breaking low personal scores. Just 15% of voters are happy with his performance and 75% are unhappy — a net score of minus 60.

Labour voters are divided about their leader, with 46% satisfied and 49% dissatisfied.

Westminster voting intention:

CON: 41% (+8)
LAB: 24% (-)
LDEM: 20% (-3)
BREX: 7% (-3)
GRN: 3% (-1)

via @IpsosMORI, 25 - 28 Oct

— Britain Elects (@britainelects) October 31, 2019
  • A YouGov poll gives the Tories a 15-point lead over Labour.

Latest Westminster voting intention (29-30 Oct)

Con - 36%
Lab - 21%
Lib Dem - 18%
Brexit Party - 13%
Green - 6%
Other - 6%https://t.co/H0i9cEjDBW pic.twitter.com/OFE7zR3Y8T

— YouGov (@YouGov) October 31, 2019

Asked which leader had the best health policies, 36% of voters said Mr Johnson while 34% opted for Mr Corbyn.

We have new Westminster voting intention figures in tomorrow’s Daily Mail. Both Labour and the Conservatives have seen a small increase in support in the past 2 weeks. pic.twitter.com/f2a1TGvql1

— Survation. (@Survation) October 30, 2019

There is more information here on the Guardian’s election poll tracker.

Updated

I missed this picture earlier. Perhaps Jeremy Corbyn was practising for when he meets the Queen ...

Updated

MPs back motion suspending Keith Vaz for six months

The House of Commons has just approved the recommendation from the Commons standards committee for Keith Vaz to be suspended for six months for offering to buy drugs for sex workers. The motion was passed without a division.

With parliament due to be dissolved at the end of Tuesday ahead of the general election, the decision may have little practical effect. Vaz is under pressure not to stand again as a candidate. (See 9.47am).

The debate was marked by a bitter exchanges between Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative backbencher, and John Bercow, who is on his last day as Speaker. Bridgen accused Bercow of being biased in favour of Vaz. Bercow denied this and, referring to Bridgen, he told MPs:

He can try to smear me, he will get the square root of nowhere.

Here is a good question from below the line.

It's being reported that Jeremy Corbyn has the lowest approval rating of any opposition leader since 1977. But the leader of the opposition in 1977 was Margaret Thatcher, who went on to win three general elections. Am I missing something?

You are right, but you are missing something.

It was Sky’s Beth Rigby who put it to Jeremy Corbyn that he has the lowest approval rating for any opposition leader since 1977. (See 11.51am.) She was referring to this Ipsos Mori survey. But I don’t think she meant it in the way you have interpreted it. What Ipsos Mori says is that Corbyn has “the lowest net satisfaction ratings of any opposition leader since the survey began in 1977” - not the lowest rating since the opposition leader in 1977, Margaret Thatcher.

Here are the figures.

Updated

Johnson accused of withholding key report on Russia from voters

Boris Johnson has been accused of sitting on a key report assessing the threat posed by Russia to Britain’s democratic processes, the Press Association reports. The former attorney general Dominic Grieve argued voters must have access to the report by the intelligence and security committee, which he chairs, given an election has been called for 12 December. He said it was “unacceptable” for the prime minister to “sit on it”, informing the Commons that Johnson should have confirmed on Thursday that no classified matters were remaining in the report.

The full story is here.

After his failure to meet his cast-iron, “do or die” pledge to deliver Brexit by 31 October (today), you might have thought that Boris Johnson would think twice before setting a fresh deadline for Brexit. But he has been at it again. During a visit to Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge, he said if the Conservatives were elected, Brexit would definitely happen by the end of January. He said:

If you vote for us and we get our programme through ... then we can be out at the absolute latest by January next year.

He also said he had an “oven-ready” Brexit deal ready to go if he won the election.

Updated

Farage describes claims Brexit party may stand aside in hundreds of seats as 'idle speculation'

This morning the Telegraph splashed on a story saying the Brexit party could stand aside in hundreds of seats - a move that could considerably help the Conservatives, who are at risk from the pro-Brexit vote being split. As Gordon Rayner and James Rothwell report in their story (paywall):

Splits have emerged in Nigel Farage’s party over its election strategy, with several senior figures backing the ‘sensible’ option of focusing its resources on a small number of Leave-voting Labour seats that it stands a realistic chance of winning.

One senior Brexit party MEP suggested the party could field as few as 20 candidates, while other sources suggested the figure would be nearer 100.

Mr Farage, who previously suggested he would field 600 candidates, said on Wednesday night he was still ‘working through’ his options, but there are fears at the top of the party that splitting the Leave vote in marginal constituencies could lead to a Jeremy Corbyn premiership.

Asked about the report today, Farage played it down, but did not deny it outright. He told PA Media:

This is idle speculation. I have not spoken to anyone of any seniority in the party [about this].

The Daily Telegraph: Brexit party could aid Tories by not fighting hundreds of seats #tomorrowspaperstoday pic.twitter.com/uZZgYXoAVI

— Helena Wilkinson (@BBCHelena) October 30, 2019

Updated

Lib Dems to stand aside in Dominic Grieve's seat to boost his chances of winning as independent

The Lib Dems have confirmed they are standing aside in Beaconsfield to help Dominic Grieve, the former Tory, run as a pro-remain independent candidate. Rob Castell, the party’s former parliamentary candidate, said it was true that he would step back because of these “unprecedented times”.

Grieve, a supporter of a second referendum and key architect of the parliamentary battle against no deal, said today:

I will run as an independent. I have no idea what the outcome will be. All I can do is offer myself to my constituents as an individual. If they want me, I’m here to serve. If they don’t, no hard feelings.

In Grieve’s Buckinghamshire seat of Beaconsfield, he won 36,559 votes for the Tories in 2017, compared with Labour’s 12,016 and 4,448 for the Lib Dems.

At first minister’s questions in the Scottish parliament the Scottish Tories’ interim leader, Jackson Carlaw, immediately asked Nicola Sturgeon if she’d like to thank Jeremy Corbyn for allowing her a second independence referendum.

(Actually Corbyn was yesterday using the same form of words that the Labour leadership has done since the summer: opposing independence but not refusing another referendum, though not in early years of a Labour government. The trouble is that this contradicts Scottish Labour’s official policy and, like their Brexit stance, isn’t easy to put across on the doorsteps.)

Sturgeon hit back by asking Carlaw about a story in this morning’s Times, suggesting an electoral pact by Tories and Labour to step back and allow the Lib Dems a clear run in their attempts to oust SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, in his Highland constituency, previously held by the late Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy.

She also hit a nerve by telling Carlaw that she sympathised with him, given that his party had so little confidence in him that they used a backbencher’s photo in their election material. This refers to leaflets bearing the face of recently departed leader Ruth Davidson: the loss of her personal voter appeal is something the Scottish Tories are expected to feel keenly during this campaign.

While Sturgeon hammered her message that only a vote for the SNP could keep the Tories out of Downing Street, and Carlaw pitched the Tory guarantee of no more referendums, don’t expect the electioneering at Holyrood to let up anytime soon ....

Updated

Jeremy Corbyn's speech and Q&A - Summary and analysis

Jeremy Corbyn will be pleased with that speech. It had a clear message, it was very well received from the activists in the hall and even the Mail on Sunday’s Dan Hodges, who has cast more vitriol over Corbyn than almost anyone else in the British commentariat, had to concede that Corbyn had done a good job. It did not contain any surprises, but it set out Labour’s platform quite compellingly.

Low bar. But that was one of Corbyn’s most effective performances. Boris has a fight on his hands here, especially with the Trump/NHS line.

— (((Dan Hodges))) (@DPJHodges) October 31, 2019

The key points from the speech are summarised at 9.02am and at 9.24am.

As usual, the more unexpected stuff came in the Q&A. Here are the main points.

  • Corbyn said the election was not about him personally. In response to a question about his own personal extremely low approval ratings, he said it was not a “presidential election”. It was Labour’s platform that mattered, he said. He replied:

It’s not about me. It’s not about any individual on this platform. It’s not a presidential election ... It’s about each and every one of us standing as labour candidates - the Labour shadow cabinet or any other position - with all the diversity that we’ve got and all the different life experiences we bring to this country and to our party and to our parliament.

There is a lot of truth in this. People do vote for candidates and parties, not individual leaders, and at the last election Labour performed far better than was expected by people who thought that Corbyn’s leadership would be the decisive factor. But elections do decide who serves as prime minister, and you cannot pretend leadership is irrelevant.

  • He said that he wanted all NHS services to be delivered by NHS employees. In response to a question about whether he wanted to stop some NHS services being provided by private companies, as is the case now, he said it was possible to visit a hospital pharmacy now and find that the staff there were not NHS employees. But they wanted to be NHS employees, he said. He went on:

Yes, I do want our NHS to be one where everyone delivering the services of the NHS are NHS employees, part of the family of NHS employees.

  • He sidestepped a question about how he would vote in the referendum Labour plans to hold after the election offering a choice between remain and a soft Brexit. Corbyn has repeatedly refused to answer this question, fuelling speculation that he might personally remain neutral.
  • He refused to commit Labour to abolishing public schools. Asked if Labour would get rid of schools like Eton, he said that the manifesto would be decided at a clause V meeting (a meeting of the shadow cabinet, Labour’s national executive committee and union leaders). But he went on:

For starters, we will definitely be making sure that all those private schools – public schools as they call themselves – will actually have to pay their taxes in a fair and proper way.

This will not come as any surprise to anyone who looked closely at what Angela Rayner, the shadow education, was promising in her speech to the Labour conference in September. But there was a difference between what Rayner actually promised (integrating private schools with state schools), what the much more radical motion passed by delegates actually promised, and the way Momentum, the organisation for Corbyn supporters, described the significance of the motion. It put out a press release after the composite was carried saying: “Labour commits to abolishing private schools in next manifesto.” From what Corbyn is saying today, it sounds as if the manifesto will not be saying that.

  • Corbyn refused to commit himself to serving a full five-year term if elected prime minister.
  • He refused to commit to appoint members of the shadow cabinet to the cabinet posts they currently shadow.
  • He said that he last spoke to Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader and Scottish first minster, about 10 days ago. He implied that, if he were prime minister, he would be better than Johnson at maintaining good relations with other parties.

I do keep in touch with, obviously, political leaders around the country because that is what leading the party is all about. You know what, when we go into government, it’s going to be so much different and so much better, because we’ll have a different world and a different society and take government that doesn’t try and divide people, but instead tries to bring them together.

According to the Times Scottish political editor, Kieran Andrews, Sturgeon was less cordial when speaking about Corbyn at first minister’s questions today.

Nicola Sturgeon has just called Corbyn “useless” at #FMQs https://t.co/VpfCqN9nBh

— Kieran Andrews (@KieranPAndrews) October 31, 2019
  • Corbyn said he would like the media to “just report what we say”. Talking about the campaign, he said:

I’ll be all over the country, meeting people, listening to people and taking that message there. And I ask our media, as good journalists, to just report what we say.

This was just a plea for fair reporting, but it has attracted some comment on Twitter from journalists who have had to put up with complaints from left that reporting what No 10 says amounts to mere stenography.

Updated

Corbyn counters concerns about his leadership by saying election is not about him

This is what Jeremy Corbyn said when asked about his own personal extremely low approval ratings.

He said it was not a “presidential election”. It was Labour’s platform that mattered, he said. He explained:

It’s not about me. It’s not about any individual on this platform. It’s not a presidential election ... It’s about each and every one of us standing as Labour candidates – the Labour shadow cabinet or any other position – with all the diversity that we’ve got and all the different life experiences we bring to this country and to our party and to our parliament.

Updated

The event is now over. I will post a summary shortly.

Corbyn is now taking questions from Labour supporters at the event.

Q: What will Labour do to improve youth services?

Corbyn says we should be cherishing and supporting young people. Some councils have been able to maintain youth services. He says he wants to say thank you to youth workers for what they do.

At this point his voice seems to give out for a moment. He recovers, and jokes about there only being seven more weeks of this to go.

He says Labour will properly fund youth services.

Q: How will Labour fix the education system?

Corbyn says the Tories said they were introducing a fair funding system for schools. But that was Orwellian, he says. It was cut after cut after cut.

He says he wants to remove the stress on children they suffer under the education system. League tables are great things, he says. He says that as an Arsenal supporter. But he says they do not work for education. They are contributing to rising stress for chldren. That is why Labour would end testing at key stage one and key stage two.

More questions.

Q: Are you part of the Islington elite?

Corbyn says he has been MP for Islington North since 1983. Almost 40% of the children in his community are in poverty. A third of people live in the rented sector. People are terrified of universal credit. He says his community has people who are totally up against it. He has been proud to represent his constituency.

And, whatever position he has held, he has always worked flat out to represent the people who elected him.

Q: Would you appoint all your shadow cabinet to the same jobs in cabinet?

Corbyn says it would not be appropriate to decide who will serve in cabinet now.

Q: Would you serve a full five-year term as PM?

He says he loves meeting people, he loves campaigning, and he will be so proud to lead a Labour government that ends universal credit and builds the homes the country needs.

When he joined Labour in the 1960s, he wanted a more just society and a peaceful world. Nothing in those beliefs has changed.

Q: Would Labour abolish Eton?

Corbyn says the manifesto is still being written. He says it will be discussed at the clause V meeting. For starters, Labour will ensure public schools have to pay their taxes in full.

Q: Do you think all leaders should publish their tax returns?

Corbyn says he and John McDonnell publish theirs in full. The first time he did this, it turned out he had overpaid tax by about £300.

Q: When did you last speak to Nicola Sturgeon?

About 10 days ago, Corbyn says. He says as a political leader he has to keep in touch.

Updated

Corbyn says everyone delivering NHS services should be an NHS employee

Jeremy Corbyn is now taking questions.

Q: Your pitch to the public is similar to your one in 2017. Why do you think the message will work now when you did not win then?

Corbyn says he is putting a pitch to the public about what can be achieved. He says there have been three Tory leaders since he became Labour leader. And the government has been defeated in parliament 48 times. He is prepared for this campaign.

Q: In 2017 you defied your critics. But now you have the lowest polling ratings of any opposition leader since 1977. How will you get the public to feel the same way about you as people in this room do? And if you lose, will you stand aside?

Corbyn says it is not about him, or any individual on this platform. “It is not a presidential election.” He says it is about Labour candidates, “with all the diversity we’ve got and all the life experiences we bring to this country”.

He says he asks the media to just report what he says.

  • Corbyn counters concerns about his leadership by saying election is not about him.

Q: How will you vote in the next Brexit referendum?

Corbyn says Brexit has divided people, communities and families. He says there are people who voted leave and remain who experience the same problems.

He says Labour wants to take no deal off the table. That is why he refused to support any move that might allow Boris Johnson do to this.

He says a Labour government would open negotiations with the EU about a sensible relationship with the EU, that would not destroy jobs. There would be a customs union, which would keep the border in Ireland as it is now. And the Good Friday agreement would be intake. And a sweetheart trade deal with Donald Trump would not be an option.

Q: The private sector provides services for thousands of people already under the NHS. Would you end these arrangements?

Corbyn says private companies that do not get NHS contracts sue the NHS. He says he asked Richard Branson to give the money Virgin Health got form this to the NHS.

He says he wants everyone delivering NHS services to be NHS employees.

  • Corbyn says everyone delivering NHS services should be an NHS employee.

Updated

From the Scotsman’s Paris Gourtsoyannis

There weren't any mentions of Scotland or Wales in the text handout of this speech, but Corbyn has gone off script to squeeze them in as part of list of people who "win" from a Labour government

— Paris Gourtsoyannis (@thistlejohn) October 31, 2019

Corbyn is now on his peroration.

Boris Johnson thought he was being smart holding this election in a dark and cold December. He thinks you won’t go out to vote. He thinks you won’t go out to campaign.

Well I say this: Labour will be out there in every city, town and village with the biggest and most confident campaign that our country has ever seen, bringing a message of hope and change to every community.

Even if the rivers freeze over, we’re going out to bring about real change for the many, not the few.

All we need to keep us warm is the thought of removing Boris Johnson’s Conservatives from government – and the chance to rebuild and transform our country.

Back in Battersea Arts Centre Corbyn says: when Labour wins, everyone wins.

Hundreds of thousands of people in every part of our country who will make this the biggest people-powered campaign in history.

We’re young, we’re old, we’re black, we’re white, we’re straight, we’re gay, we’re women, we’re men, we’re people of all faiths and none, from the north and from the south.

And when Labour wins, the nurse wins, the pensioner wins, the student wins, the office worker wins, the engineer wins. We all win.

Updated

The Conservative party press office is posting tweets rebutting Corbyn’s speech as he delivers it. Here are some examples.

What Corbyn won't mention:

Under the @Conservatives

📈 The rich are paying more in income taxes than they did under Labour
💷 We've taken over 4 million of the lowest paid workers out of paying income tax altogether #inconvenienttruths

— CCHQ Press Office (@CCHQPress) October 31, 2019

This is what Labour's plans to renationalise would costhttps://t.co/9H4hcpwRuB

— CCHQ Press Office (@CCHQPress) October 31, 2019

Corbyn asks whose side are you on. But whose side is Corbyn on? https://t.co/2BZRtcJ6j1

— CCHQ Press Office (@CCHQPress) October 31, 2019

Corbyn says Boris Johnson wants people to think that Brexit is being blocked by an establishment elite. But people know that the Conservatives are the establishment elite, he says.

Corbyn is now using the “whose side are you on” passage I quoted earlier. (See 9.24am.)

Updated

Corbyn says a decade of Conservative cuts has done huge damage to the country.

After a decade when real wages have fallen, for too many people, what they see is the community they love being run down through years of deliberate neglect. The evidence of a decade of economic vandalism is all around them.

It’s there in the boarded up shops. In the closed library and swimming pool. In youth centres that have closed their doors. The high street like a ghost town. The elderly couple who are scared to walk down their road because violent crime has doubled. The army veteran sleeping under blankets in a doorway. People struggling to make ends meet. The mother and her children eating from a food bank because they’ve been forced onto universal credit.

That’s the evidence of Conservative cuts. Well I say, no more.

Labour would end austerity and scrap universal credit, he says.

Corbyn turns to the claim that Brexit could open up the NHS to American corporations.

Despite his denials, the NHS is up for grabs by US corporations in a one-sided Trump trade sell-out.

Channel 4 Dispatches revealed this week that the cost of drugs and medicines has repeatedly been discussed between US and UK trade officials. Remember Johnson’s famous promise of £350m a week for the NHS? Well his toxic Brexit trade deal with Trump could hand over £500m a week of NHS money to big drugs corporations.

We will stop them. Labour won’t let Donald Trump get his hands on our National Health Service. It’s not for sale, to him or anyone.

(I am using the quotes from the text sent out by Labour. Corbyn is making some minor changes to the text, but the quotes I am using represent what he is saying.)

At this point activists in the hall break into a change of “not for sale” for 10 seconds or so.

Updated

Corbyn turns to Brexit.

Friends, today is the 31st of October, the day Boris Johnson promised we would leave the EU. He said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than delay beyond today. But he has failed. And that failure is his alone.

You can’t trust Boris Johnson.

Corbyn confirms Labour’s plan to hold a referendum, with voters being given a choice between a “sensible deal” and remain.

It is not complicated, he says (trying to counter claims that Labour’s Brexit policy is not straightforward.)

Corbyn says this election is a once-in-a-generation chance to transform the country, and to ensure that no community in any part of the country is ever left behind again.

Some people say real change is not possible, he says. Really? A health service where people do not have to wait, and prescriptions are free? Is that asking too much?

Is it asking to much to have a care system where people are treated with dignity, with free personal care?

It is asking to much to have a real living wage for everyone, including young workers from the age of 16?

Is it asking too much to have homes that people can afford, rents that don’t break the bank, and an end to the disgrace of rough sleeping?

30 hours free childcare for all children. A good education from cradle to grave. Is that too much to ask?

Corbyn says he would put rail, mail and water into public ownership, ending the Tory rip-off.

What about real action on the climate crisis by creating hundreds of thousands of new, green energy jobs in communities where they’re most desperately needed?

No, that’s not asking too much. Because we have to radically change course now to avoid living on a hostile and dying planet.

Updated

Jeremy Corbyn is speaking now.

He says he is launching the most ambitious and radical campaign the country has ever seen.

If you want to live in a society that works for everyone, not just billionaires, if you want to stop the cuts and save the environment, then this is your chance to vote for it.

He says the choice could not be clearer.

Labour stands with you, he says. It will put wealth and power in the hands of the many. Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, who think they are born to rule, will only ever look after the few, he says.

De Cordova is talking about her constituents who have been affected by government spending cuts. And, on Brexit, she says regardless of how people voted, no one voted for their living standards to go down.

Battersea voted overwhelmingly to remain, as she did, she says.

And she says only Labour will sort Brexit out, by giving the British people a final say.

Labour will end the privatisation of the NHS, she says. It will build more home, and tackle the climate crisis through Labour’s green new deal.

Updated

Marsha de Cordova, the Labour MP for Battersea, is introducing Jeremy Corbyn. The event is in Battersea Arts Centre.

She won the seat from the Tories in 2017 with a majority of 2,416.

She says Battersea has a radical history. London’s first black mayor, John Archer, was elected in this very building, she says.

The event is starting now. Jeremy Corbyn and the shadow cabinet are coming in.

From the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg

Jeremy Corbyn about to launch Labour campaign in packed out arts centre in London's Battersea - Labour took the seat from Tories in 2017, will hope to repeat the trick in other London seats this time round

— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) October 31, 2019

Jeremy Corbyn launches Labour's election campaign

The Labour campaign launch is due to start at 11am.

These are from the BBC’s Peter Saull, who is there.

At the Labour general election launch. One old slogan, one new. “For the many, not the few” and “It’s time for real change.” #ge2019 pic.twitter.com/ELrvAzM1aV

— Peter Saull (@petesaull) October 31, 2019

Some interesting t-shirt designs at the Labour campaign launch. #ge2019 pic.twitter.com/6PQHzmBYMK

— Peter Saull (@petesaull) October 31, 2019

Some very fired up Labour activists in the room. One angrily remonstrating about Boris Johnson, suggesting that the former mayor of London should take some responsibility for failing to prevent the Grenfell Tower tragedy. #ge2019

— Peter Saull (@petesaull) October 31, 2019

Last night Nicky Morgan, the culture secretary, announced that she would be standing down from parliament. In an interview with the BBC’s Radio Leicester this morning, she insisted that she was leaving not “for any reasons of disagreement with the prime minister or the direction of the government at all”.

She said the abuse she had received as an MP had contributed to the decision, adding:

I think the role of being an MP has changed. I think the abuse, because of the platforms, because of how strongly people feel about the current political situation, that has changed enormously in the almost 10 years since I started.

Here is an updated list of the MPs standing down from the Institute for Government’s Gavin Freeguard.

58

(yes, we're going backwards)https://t.co/n4UjaFAgBM

h/t @thhamilton pic.twitter.com/AdV7byTFTZ

— Gavin Freeguard (@GavinFreeguard) October 31, 2019

And here is some Twitter comment on Morgan’s resignation.

From the Economist’s John Peet

A party that in quick succession loses Amber Rudd, Nicky Morgan, Ken Clarke, David Lidington, Philip Hammond, Nick Boles, Jo Johnson and Dominic Grieve has serious thinking to do about its future - if it has one

— John Peet (@JohnGPeet) October 30, 2019

From the author and political commentator Robert Harris

We were told it would be moderate Labour MPs who would be culled on the eve of the election. Instead it seems to be the Conservative Party that has been taken over by extremists

— Robert Harris (@Robert___Harris) October 30, 2019

From Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis

This seems to miss the point. It’s not that the numbers are disproportionate. It’s that more of those who cite abuse as a reason fir leaving are female. Either it’s happening to men too and they choose not to say. Or it’s worse for women. https://t.co/ZSY0YXDINf

— emily m (@maitlis) October 30, 2019

Even if women are standing down in the same proportion as men, it does look as if the average age of the women who are standing down is lower than the average age of the departing men. Many of the men going are at the end of their careers. I have not had time to do the maths, but that seems to be less true of the women.

Updated

More than 300,000 people have applied to register to vote in 48 hours, according to government figures. As the Press Association reports, a total of 139,162 applications were submitted on Tuesday, followed by 177,105 on Wednesday. This is well above the typical number for weekday applications, which has been averaging around 37,000 for the past month.

There is no sign of Boris Johnson this morning yet, but here, for the record, is the statement he released overnight ahead of the visits he is doing today to a school, a hospital and a police station. He said:

Today should have been the day that Brexit was delivered and we finally left the EU. But, despite the great new deal I agreed with the EU, Jeremy Corbyn refused to allow that to happen – insisting upon more dither, more delay and more uncertainty for families and business.

We cannot continue along this path. I didn’t want an election – like the country I wanted to get Brexit done, but it is the only way forward.

The public wants and expects the government to give them hope and to improve their opportunities.

This is exactly what my government has been doing for the past 99 days and exactly what my government will continue to do if the public choose the Conservatives in this election.

I want next year to be a great year for our country – with more investment in frontline NHS services, the recruitment of thousands more police officers to reduce violent crime and investment in every one of our primary and secondary schools across the country.

The alternative is for the people of this country to spend the next year, which should be a glorious year, going through the toxic, tedious torpor of two more referendums – on EU membership and Scottish independence – thanks to Jeremy Corbyn’s incessant indecision.

Now is the time to break the deadlock so we can move on as a country. The Conservatives will campaign for a parliament that gets Brexit done and delivers on the people’s priorities, including the NHS, education and crime.

And here are the two main points Johnson is making. As is almost routine with Johnson statements, neither of them is properly true.

  • Johnson claims that Labour is to blame for parliament not being able to pass his Bexit deal. It is true that Labour voted against the programme motion, setting aside just three days for MPs to debate the bill. But the programme motion was defeated because the DUP (supposedly Johnson’s allies) and former Tories who had had the whip removed voted against it, and Labour offered to strike a deal with the government on a programme motion giving MPs more time to debate the bill, which may well have passed. But Johnson did not try this, and instead shelved the bill and went for an election.

Updated

Yesterday the Liberal Democrats sent out a note inviting journalists to a slogan launch this morning. That could be a first. Having covered general elections since the 1990s, I’ve seen poster launches, campaign launches and manifesto launches, but never something billed as an event to announce just a slogan.

My colleague Peter Walker was there. And it turns out the slogan is: Stop Brexit, Build a Brighter Future.

Peter is not over-impressed.

Lib Dems have a digital sign van outside parliament unveiling two election posters and their campaign slogan, which seems to be, “Build a Brighter Future.” pic.twitter.com/6KL7LmVzJG

— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) October 31, 2019

All campaign catchlines are necessarily platitudinous, and as with this, almost always fail the, ‘can you argue the opposite?’ test - ie, no party is going to say, “Actually, no, we want to create a worse future.”*

*That’s not to say some policies won’t do just this.

— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) October 31, 2019

Anyway, the Lib Dem slogan van is supposedly due to spend *an hour* driving around Parliament Square. It’s a diesel. As an asthmatic who works a few hundred metres away I’m not overly keen on this.

— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) October 31, 2019

That said, the Lib Dem van did one circuit of the square and was last seen driving towards Lambeth bridge, so maybe there was a change of plan.

— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) October 31, 2019

Footage of the diesel Lib Dem as van idling before it sets off on its circuits of Parliament Sq. It’s not entirely ideal. As someone pointed out below they could have used @pedalmeapp for the job .... pic.twitter.com/beTWdtuiyv

— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) October 31, 2019

Updated

While we are on the subject of the Commons standards committee, MPs will later debate a motion saying they should suspend the Labour MP Keith Vaz, as recommended by the committee, for offering to buy drugs for sex workers.

In an interview on the Today programme this morning Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said Vaz should stand down instead of standing for election again. She said:

I think he should consider his position. I think he himself should agree not to be a candidate. It has been a very sad issue, not just for him but for his family and his children.

When it was put to her that the Labour party has not removed the whip from Vaz, a move that would prevent him from standing again as a Labour candidate, she replied: “Not yet.”

The Conservative MP Sir Henry Bellingham has been ordered to apologise to the Commons for the late declaration of a financial interest, the Press Association reports. The Commons standards committee found he did not declare his non-executive chairmanship of Clifton Africa Ltd, an African mining and development company, within the 28 days required. In a report the committee said such cases were normally dealt with through a “rectification” procedure, but, despite “extensive” correspondence with the parliamentary commissioner for standards, it said Bellingham had taken “far too long” to correct the record. As a result, the committee said it was recommending that he should issue a written apology to the house.

The Conservatives argue that Labour’s claim to be offering change (see 9.02am) is bogus because the party is offering another referendum on Brexit. This is what James Cleverly, the Tory chairman, said in a statement last night, responding to the advance extracts from Jeremy Corbyn’s speech released in advance. Cleverly said:

A vote for Labour is not a vote for change. It is precisely the opposite - a vote for more delay and uncertainty on Brexit, meaning the government can’t focus on people’s priorities, like the NHS, schools and crime.

(But Cleverly also said in his statement that Labour’s “extreme economic ideas would wreck the economy” - which I suppose would be change of a sort.)

'Whose side are you on?' - Corbyn promises to take on 'privileged few'

As Heather Stewart and Rowena Mason write in their overnight story, Jeremy Corbyn will use his speech this morning at the Labour campaign launch to assert that his party is on the side of the people.

This is another standard piece of election rhetoric. You never hear candidates saying that they are on the side of vested interests or the elite (even though some of them are).

Boris Johnson has been trying his own version of this positioning, with No 10 advisers saying that, because he is campaigning on a pledge to deliver Brexit, he is standing up for the people against parliament.

Corbyn will say he is standing up for the people against the elite, or the “privileged few’. And in his speech he will name examples of what he means by the elite. It is worth quoting the passage at lengthy so here it is.

You know what really scares the elite?

What they’re actually afraid of is paying their taxes. So in this election they’ll fight harder and dirtier than ever before. They’ll throw everything at us because they know we’re not afraid to take them on.

So we’re going after the tax dodgers. We’re going after the dodgy landlords. We’re going after the bad bosses. We’re going after the big polluters. Because we know whose side we’re on.

So are you on the side of the tax dodgers, who are taking us all for a ride? People who think it’s ok to rip people off, hide their money in tax havens so they can have a new super yacht. Or the children with special educational needs who aren’t getting the support they deserve because of Tory and Lib Dem government cuts?

Whose side are you on? The dodgy landlords, like the Duke of Westminster, Britain’s youngest billionaire, who tried to evict whole blocks of families, to make way for luxury apartments? Or the millions of tenants in Britain who struggle to pay their rent each month?

Whose side are you on? The bad bosses like Mike Ashley, the billionaire who won’t pay his staff properly and is running Newcastle United into the ground? Or his exploited workforce, like the woman who was reportedly forced to give birth in a warehouse toilet because she was terrified of missing her shift?

Whose side are you on? The big polluters like Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest man who makes his money by polluting the environment? Or the children growing up in our cities with reduced lung capacity because of choking pollution?

“Whose side are you on? The greedy bankers like Crispin Odey, who makes millions betting against our country and on other people’s misery and donated huge sums to Johnson and the Conservative Party? Or are you on the side of working people, the people who create the wealth that’s then squirreled away in tax havens?

And whose side are you on? The billionaire media barons like Rupert Murdoch, whose empire pumps out propaganda to support a rigged system. Or the overwhelming majority who want to live in a decent, fair, diverse and prosperous society?

You know whose side Labour’s on. And we have something that the Rupert Murdochs, the Mike Ashleys, and the Boris Johnsons don’t have.

We have people. Hundreds of thousands of people in every part of our country, who will make this the biggest people-powered campaign in history.

'Real change is coming,' says Corbyn at Labour's campaign launch

Essentially there are only three sorts of election campaign: ‘it’s time for a change’; ‘give us more time to finish the job’; or (when all else fails) ‘don’t let the other lot ruin it’. The easiest and most effective message is normally the first one (which is why sometimes incumbents even try and run on a ‘change’ platform) and today this is what Jeremy Corbyn will offer the electorate when he launches Labour’s election campaign at an event with the shadow cabinet.

According to extracts released in advance, Corbyn will say:

We stand for the many. Boris Johnson’s born-to-rule Conservatives protect the privileged few. They’ve slashed taxes for the richest and vital services and support for everyone else.

But real change is coming.

We will end the Conservatives’ great rip-off by putting rail, mail and water into public ownership so they work for everyone, not just Tory donors and shareholders in tax havens.

We will invest in every nation and region, rebuild our public services and give our NHS, schools and police the money they need by taxing those at the top to properly fund services for everyone.

This election is a once-in-a-generation chance to transform our country, take on the vested interests holding people back and ensure that no community is left behind.

I will quote more from the speech soon. And here is our overnight election story, also covering what Corbyn will say.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: The Lib Dems launch their election slogan, which will be on a poster on a van that will later drive around Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency and Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington North constituency.

After 10.30am: Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, makes a business statement in the Commons.

11am: Jeremy Corbyn and the shadow cabinet launch Labour’s general election campaign at an event at Battersea Arts centre in south London.

After 11am: MPs debate the standards committee recommendation for Labour’s Keith Vaz to be suspended for six months.

Boris Johnson is also doing election visits today, going to a hospital, a school and a police station in different parts of the country to highlight what he calls “the people’s priorities”.

It is John Bercow’s last day in office as Commons Speaker.

And at some point today the culture department is expected to publish its report into how Johnson’s close friend, the American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri, secured a £100,000 grant from the department.

As usual, I will be covering breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web, although I will be focusing almost exclusively on general election developments. I plan to publish a summary when I wrap up.

You can read all the latest Guardian politics articles here. Here is the Politico Europe roundup of this morning’s political news. And here is the PoliticsHome list of today’s top 10 must-reads.

If you want to follow me or contact me on Twitter, I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter.

Updated

Contributors

Andrew Sparrow and Kevin Rawlinson

The GuardianTramp

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