Boris, Brexit & Britain

Written by  //  February 11, 2020  //  Europe & EU, U.K./Britain  //  No comments

Brexit: What is the Irish border backstop?
The Guardian Brexit
BBC: Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU
Brexit, EU & UK – June 2019
Boris, Brexit & Britain July-November 2019

11 February
UK trade deal faces potential veto from every EU country
Even the smallest member country will be able to wield influence over the accord.
(Politico Eu) If Spain wants to block a future trade deal with the U.K. over Gibraltar, if Belgium wants to stop a deal over fish or if France wants to veto over financial regulation, they have a legal way to do so.
The concession to EU countries is buried in the legal section of the draft negotiating directives that the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier presented on Monday. This document refers to Article 217 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union as a legal basis for an EU-U.K. agreement because of the “scope of the envisaged partnership and the ambitious and long-term relationship that it seeks to establish.”
Under EU law, holding the Brexit talks on the basis of Article 217 means that member countries will need to reach a unanimous decision in Council, giving each of the EU27 countries a chance to weigh in on the talks and forcing Barnier to keep every country’s interests in mind during the upcoming negotiations.

3-4 February
Brexit has only just begun, says think-tank
Trade experts say only a basic UK-EU trade deal is possible by 2021, but some economists point to Brexit’s benefits.
(Al Jazeera) The UK has left the European Union, and as far as the government here is concerned, Brexit is over. But it’s not quite that simple, and the hard work and tough decisions are yet to come, according to a new report published on Tuesday by the research organisation The UK in a Changing Europe. In Brexit: What Next?, the authors focus on the tight December 31, 2020 deadline for the end of the “transition period”, by when the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is determined to have secured a deal with the EU covering trade, security and other issues.
Brexit trade deal clash: UK and EU begin sparring over rulesPost-Brexit rhetoric between UK, Europe heats up before trade talks start in March.
Brexit Done? Not So Fast. Britain and E.U. Enter New Trade Deal Battle.
Three days after the U.K.’s formal withdrawal from the European Union, the two sides are squaring off in the “chest beating” phase of negotiations.

2 February
Brian Eno’s message on Brexit day – and a reply from Yanis Varoufakis
To my European Friends: … those of us who call ourselves liberals or socialists or democrats weren’t paying attention. Most of us didn’t notice that for working people conditions were becoming bleaker every year. And we didn’t notice that the gutter press was relentlessly directing the blame for those conditions towards the victims – the immigrants, the poor, the social workers, the teachers, the foreigners…and most of all, the EU. We didn’t recognise the revolution because we always thought it was us who were supposed to be the revolutionaries.
YV: On Brexit day, on behalf of DiEM25, I sent you, our comrades in Britain, the following: By leaving us, you are making us sadder, poorer and more prone to the errors that made so many of you vote for Brexit. The only solace I take from your departure is the thought that Brexit will convince you that a European Union should be invented even if it did not exist. And that it will convince us, on the Continent, to democratise properly the one we have so as to serve our people’s needs and, yes, to lure you back as well.

31 January

Brexit in Historical Perspective: The Age of Britain in Europe
(The Gladstone Diaries) For nearly half a century – from 1973 to 2020 – perhaps the single most important fact about British history was its membership of the European Union (or ‘Community’, until 1993). Membership touched almost every area of national life. It transformed how Britain was governed, who it traded with and who had the right to live and work here. It rewired Britain’s manufacturing base, rewrote its constitution and transformed its judicial system. Its effects have been felt across the spectrum of public policy, from gay rights and environmental protection to regional policy, agriculture and the peace process in Northern Ireland. This was ‘the Age of Britain in Europe’, and its passing marks an epoch in our modern history.
Membership provided an answer to three fundamental questions about Britain’s role in the world, which reached a crisis in the years after 1945. First, how could Britain maintain its prosperity, as a declining industrial power that had lost its colonial markets? Second, how could it project power in the world, once it had lost its empire and its global military reach? Third, how could Britain preserve its sovereignty, in an increasingly globalised world? Put differently, how could Britain ‘take back control’, at a time when it seemed to be leaking sovereignty to the currency markets, to the International Monetary Fund, and to big trading blocs that were setting the rules of world trade?
From 1961 to 2016, every government (whether Conservative or Labour) started from three basic assumptions: that the best way to rebuild Britain’s economic strength was as the entry-point to an integrated, European market; that the surest route to influence in Washington or the Commonwealth was through a leadership role in Europe; and that the best way to maximise British sovereignty was to have a seat at the table where its destiny would be decided.
Yet recent governments have shown little understanding of why that decision was reached, or of the strategic dilemmas to which Europe became the answer. To say this is not to refight the arguments of the last four years. But unless we understand why Britain joined – and why alternative strategies were rejected – we will not be realistic about the scale of the challenge that lies ahead.

Brexit Has Arrived. But Boris Johnson’s Reign Is Just Beginning.
With his signature campaign promise fulfilled, the prime minister can now reshape Britain for a generation.
By Richard Seymour
(NYT) The moment has arrived. Britain is out of the European Union. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his “People’s Government” — it scarcely calls itself Conservative at this point — has fulfilled the promise on which it was elected in December and “got Brexit done.”
There are difficulties ahead. Mr. Johnson has promised impossible and contradictory things on Brexit: Maximum regulatory freedom where it suits his government, maximum frictionless trade where it suits the British economy. The European Union is unlikely to give him what he wants in the months of negotiations to come.
But by fulfilling his pledge, Mr. Johnson has won enormous good will from nationalist voters across England and Wales. Outside the European Union, he will also have more scope to change the British government’s role in the economy. This gives him a unique opportunity do what his predecessors could not: build a lasting popular base for the Conservative Party. Mr. Johnson can now take advantage of his big majority to overhaul British capitalism, incentivizing long-term Conservative voters while permanently annexing chunks of the Labour Party’s historic base.
During the election, Mr. Johnson was able to glide over the glaring contradictions in what he said with a bustling con man’s charm, but in office he has to navigate them. With a big majority, he can no longer play the outsider. However, the lesson of nationalist leaders globally is that, in this jittery era, they don’t have to deliver booming success to keep power. From Viktor Orban in Hungary to Narendra Modi in India, these leaders have expanded their base by delivering a personalized, charismatic form of rule in which they are militant defenders of the nation against all comers — be they foreigners, “traitors,” liberals, or leftists.
Mr. Johnson is not a nationalist by conviction. He is the epitome of the “reckless opportunists” that, as the sociologist Aeron Davis says, run Britain. His voting record in Parliament shows him to be slightly more liberal than his party. But his performance over the last few months — during which he agitated against Parliament, accused opponents of “collaboration” with Europe, and saber-rattled against the courts and media — showed him to be adept at using the far right’s template. Whenever the contradictions in his government threaten to unravel, he is likely to return to these tactics.

Roger Cohen: Requiem for a Dream
Britain exits Europe. It will be poorer, above all in its shriveled heart.
Brexit Day, now upon us, feels like the end of hope, a moral collapse, a self-amputation that will make the country where I grew up poorer in every sense.
Poorer materially, of course, but above all poorer in its shriveled soul, divorced from its neighborhood, internally fractured, smaller, meaner, more insular, more alone, no longer a protagonist in the great miracle of the postwar years — Europe’s journey toward borderless peace and union. Britain, in a fit of deluded jingoism, has opted for littleness.

The mixed emotions of Brexit day show the UK is not yet at ease with itself
(The Guardian) How does a nation say goodbye to its neighbours? With a lump in its throat and a poignant song of farewell – or with cheers and a raised middle finger of defiant good riddance? The answer that Britain gave at 11pm on Friday 31 January 2020 was: both. The UK broke from the European Union on a late winter’s night with both jubilation and regret, as divided on the day of leaving as it had been in deciding to leave. For some Britons, this was Independence Day. For others, it was a national bereavement.
… while Downing Street had its clock, remainers had a projection of their own: a film beamed on to the white cliffs of Dover, featuring two veterans of the second world war, both in their 90s, speaking of their sadness at the coming of this hour. They would miss the “comradeship” of the European Union, they said, adding the hope that “we will be back together before too long”. The film, the work of the Led by Donkeys group, ended with an image of a single gold star from the European flag. “This is our star,” said the message. “Look after it for us.”
Brexit day: Britain quits EU, steps into transition twilight zone
(Reuters) – The United Kingdom leaves the European Union on Friday for an uncertain Brexit future, the most significant change to its place in the world since the loss of empire and a blow to 70 years of efforts to forge European unity from the ruins of war.
… for all Johnson’s talk of healing, there was no agreement between leave and remain at the moment of parting – except on one thing. Both saw 11pm as chiming in an epochal shift in the history of these islands. True, nothing material altered at that moment. The UK that wakes up on Saturday will still have to stick to EU rules and pay into the EU budget, albeit without any say, until 31 December. Britons can still go through the EU citizens line at the airport. Things will only get real on the first day of 2021.

2 January

those of us who call ourselves liberals or socialists or democrats weren’t paying attention. Most of us didn’t notice that for working people conditions were becoming bleaker every year. And we didn’t notice that the gutter press was relentlessly directing the blame for those conditions towards the victims – the immigrants, the poor, the social workers, the teachers, the foreigners…and most of all, the EU. We didn’t notice because for us life wasn’t too bad – we all had our iPhones and apps and Amazon accounts and cheap flights to seasides and other ways of wasting our time. Meanwhile there was a revolution going on.

We didn’t recognise the revolution because we always thought it was us who were supposed to be the revolutionaries.

30 January
Why Britain Brexited
For decades, the country has struggled with the challenge facing the modern nation-state: how to balance control and influence.
(The Atlantic) The United Kingdom will soon begin the most radical national experiment of the 21st century so far: Brexit. … Brexit is essentially an aberration, a decision of epic stupidity, which, at its heart, seeks to reverse the tide of history pushing midsize countries into multinational blocs in order to compete in a world of superpowers. Britain, in voting to leave the biggest and most advanced of these blocs, has allowed an instant of nostalgic madness to rip it from its moorings, casting it off into the exposed waters of economic isolation at the very moment the rest of the world, led by Donald Trump, is putting up trade barriers. It is a story of a country that has lost control of who it is and where it is going.
There is another perspective, viewing Brexit as a largely conservative act, returning to what remains, after all, the norm for most countries: independent national sovereignty. In this view, shared by some conservative historians, economists, and politicians, Brexit is primarily about protection from the EU’s radicalism, viewing the bloc’s push for ever-closer union—manifested most obviously in its single currency—as the aberration of history, turning what was once a confederation of nation-states into a federal union.

26 January
Fast-track ‘global talent visa’ to be launched days after Brexit
Boris Johnson’s scheme to attract scientists dismissed by Lib Dems as ‘gimmick’
The Spectator:
This week will see a momentous, historic event: Britain leaving the European Union. But it’s not clear whether Friday’s Brexit day will be dominated by the celebrations of the people who campaigned to get the country out of the EU, or the regrets and recriminations of those who tried to stop this happening. Today we’ve had Lord Heseltine complaining that it is ‘unwise of the government to rub our noses in it by celebrating our defeat at this hour, whilst talking about unifying the country’. So far we’ve had the new Brexit 50p coin which bears the words ‘peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations’, and on Friday will see a light display in Downing Street and Whitehall, along with Union flags in Parliament Square and Pall Mall. From 10pm, there will also be a countdown clock projected onto No. 10 – though this won’t conclude with the bongs of Big Ben, despite the efforts of many Brexiteers. It remains to be seen whether Mark Francois will stage his own performance in Westminster.
This week will also see more detail on the practical implications of Brexit, with a new report from the Migration Advisory Committee due to set out plans for the new immigration system. This will include a review of the proposed £30,000 minimum salary threshold for migrant workers, which some in business have argued will lead to shortages in key sectors.
Designing a new immigration system is complicated enough, and that’s one of the reasons the proposed split between the Home Office and a new Immigration department has been paused, as the upheaval could lead to total chaos. But this pales into insignificance next to the decision, expected on Tuesday, about whether Huawei should be allowed to supply some infrastructure for the UK’s 5G network. Boris Johnson is having to take the decision at the same time as trying to build a new trade agreement with the United States

How to mark Brexit Day? Boris Johnson is searching for the right tone.
(WaPo) At the strike of 11 p.m. local time on Jan. 31 — a.k.a. midnight in Brussels — Britain will leave the European Union, more or less.
So what happens to Britain when it wakes up the morning after Exit Day?
Essentially, nothing. The whole point of the coming 11-month transition period is that nothing changes for travel and trade.
Instead, teams of negotiators will be dispersed around the world to hustle up trade deals and re-ink some of the 600 international treaties that Britain is leaving by exiting the E.U.

Despite the spin that a trade pact with President Trump is at the top of the list, Sajid Javid, Britain’s finance minister, told an audience in Davos, Switzerland, this past week that the U.K. needed and wanted a deal with the E.U. first.
The timeline is tight. Even the most ardent Brexiteers in government acknowledge there are tough talks ahead, with Britain either securing a free-trade deal or not.

21 January
Prince Harry joins Meghan in Canada, without the half-in, half-out royal deal they wanted
Prince Harry joined his wife, Meghan, and their son, Archie, Tuesday on Canada’s Vancouver Island, to begin mapping out a life outside the royal fold.
Harry and Meghan won their freedom, but things didn’t go quite as planned. Two weeks ago, they announced they wanted to “step back” as front-line royals and “carve out a progressive new role within this institution.” But they aren’t stepping back so much as stepping down. … The British tabloids have dubbed it a “hard Megxit”
… There may be other reasons, too, why the queen did not greenlight a hybrid model for Harry and Meghan.
Canada, though it remains a member of the British Commonwealth, wasn’t especially enthusiastic about becoming an outpost for the royal family.
15 January
How Megxit put Queen Elizabeth II in the role of crisis manager once again
(NYT) At the peak of the latest crisis facing the House of Windsor, which saw Prince Harry and Meghan announce, via Instagram, their decision to quit their roles as senior royals, it was Queen Elizabeth II who took hold of the spinning wheel, to steady the family — and protect the royal brand.
At 93, an age when many matriarchs would be among the dearly or nearly departed, or elbowed aside to allow an ambitious younger generation to run the show, the queen remains firmly in charge — of both a sprawling, often problematic family and the monarchy.
It was the queen who convened the meeting at her royal estate in Sandringham this week to deal with Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. And although her son and heir, Prince Charles, reportedly assisted, afterward it was the queen who issued her very personal statement to sort out the matter.

2019

12 – 13 December

The Economist: We have published a special edition with our analysis of Britain’s astonishing general election. As we went to press, Boris Johnson was heading for a majority of around 80 seats, the largest Conservative victory since the days of Margaret Thatcher. Under Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, Labour has suffered its worst result since 1935. The vote marks a profound realignment in British politics. For the first time since the referendum of 2016, it is clear that Britain will leave the European Union. The party of the rich has buried Labour under the votes of working-class northerners and Midlanders. And, after a decade of weak or non-existent majorities, Britain has a prime minister with immense personal authority and a free rein in Parliament.

The United Kingdom Has Voted. Will It Remain United?
Boris Johnson’s resounding victory means Britain will almost certainly leave the European Union. But what will become of Scotland and Northern Ireland?
(NYT editorial) Brexit is now a fact, and that is the first and most concrete takeaway from the election. Without any viable opposition in his own Tory ranks, whose dissidents he had purged before the election and whose deputies all vowed to support him on Brexit, Mr. Johnson is likely to get his Brexit bill through Parliament within days or weeks, and Britain to formally leave the union by the end-of-January deadline. … The survival of the “United” in United Kingdom itself was in question after a strong showing by the nationalist party in Scotland and its certain demand for a new referendum on independence, as well as the uncertain fate of Northern Ireland under Mr. Johnson’s Brexit plan.
Boris Johnson pledges to prioritise NHS after election victory
Prime minister wants ‘healing to begin’ after gamble on Brexit-focused election pays off
(The Guardian) Boris Johnson has claimed he wants to “let the healing begin” over Brexit, pitching himself as the prime minister of a one-nation government after winning the largest Conservative majority since Margaret Thatcher.
Speaking outside Downing Street, Johnson said the NHS would be his top priority in government, and the country needed “a permanent break” from the issue of Brexit after three and a half years of bitter division.
The prime minister gave his speech a few hours after visiting the Queen to inform her he had the support to lead a government, after the Conservatives won an 80-seat majority with the help of previously Labour-held seats across the north of England, the Midlands and Wales.
Jeremy Corbyn ‘very sad’ at election defeat but feels proud of manifesto
The Labour leader is under pressure to step down but did not give a timetable for departure
The Labour leader gave a short statement in which he did not apologise to the 60 Labour MPs who lost their seats since its 2017 result or acknowledge any responsibility for the party suffering its worst result since 1935.
Could Boris Johnson Be the Last Prime Minister of the U.K. As We Know It?
(New York) While Johnson may claim victory in this election and in the debate over Brexit, his legacy and his political future will depend on how he governs over the coming years. With the threat of another Scottish independence vote (and an uncertain future for Northern Ireland), he might end up being the last prime minister of the U.K. as we know it today. British — or rather, English — politicians a generation from now could find themselves in a downsized House of Commons, debating whether breaking up with the European Union was worth breaking up their own union as well.
It’s Boris Johnson’s Britain Now
His impact in a short period of time has been revolutionary, and his resounding victory means he can remake the country.
(The Atlantic) In the six months since Johnson took over from Theresa May … He has sheared off the Conservative Party’s most liberal wing, radicalized Britain’s divorce deal with the European Union—and won a thumping mandate from the public to see it through. In doing so, he has eliminated the opposition’s chances of blocking Brexit and set the country on course for a future not only outside the EU, but also one that remakes its regulatory, legal, and economic order.
Tom McTague:The Britain that has emerged today is different from the one that came before, its old political map erased, its economic model upended, its prospects uncertain—even its very unity in doubt. The Britain built by Tony Blair is gone, fatally undermined by David Cameron’s Brexit referendum and now swept away in a provincial tide of support for Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.
Gwynne Dyer: English turkeys vote for Christmas with ‘Brexit election’
Down on the turkey farm, the Scottish and Irish birds noticed the smiling man was holding a hatchet behind his back, and hid. The Welsh turkeys looked confused and huddled together squawking. But the English turkeys marched bravely up to the chopping block, confident this would be a Christmas to remember.
Boris Johnson’s big victory in Thursday’s “Brexit election” was achieved almost entirely with English votes. Only 20 of the 364 seats won by the Conservative Party were in the other three nations of the United Kingdom.

10 December
So much for polls!
UK’s Johnson now less certain of election victory: YouGov
(Reuters) “Based on the model, we cannot rule out a hung parliament,” Anthony Wells, YouGov’s director of political research, told The Times newspaper, which published the results.
U.K. Health Service Poses a Late Election Issue for Boris Johnson
There is a dawning realization among voters that the prime minister’s vow to complete Brexit could undermine the N.H.S.
(NYT) With Britain on the precipice of an election that could soon lead to a decisive break with the European Union, Brexit looks to many people more like a threat to their cherished health service than its salvation. The system has already deteriorated under the watch of Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party, with beds overflowing, waiting times swelling and nurse and doctor vacancies piling up.
Zoe Williams: The Tories have underestimated young voters’ anger. That could be costly
‘Young’ isn’t a demographic any more but a class cohort with similar problems – and they’re treated with baffling prejudice
(The Guardian) There are rumours that Boris Johnson’s camp fears “t’n’t” – turnout and tactical voting.
It is true that the get-out-the-vote campaign is superior on Labour’s side, a corollary to the party’s larger activist base. It is true, too, that the polls consistently show a progressive majority in this country that could beat this extreme ethno-nationalist variety of Toryism hands down, if it all voted the same way. But experience knocks the edges off these fears: the right has the overwhelming support of the over-65s, who everyone knows are the best at turning out.
Yet there are some threats they do not seem to have factored in. The most obvious is the youthquake, which is a curious oversight, since it was only two years ago that it happened last. There is a tendency right across the political spectrum to write young voters off as a kind of joke constituency: flighty, capricious, liable to get distracted by a bee or put off by a spot of rain. This is partly down to a misunderstanding of what we mean by “youth” – in the 18 to 24 and 24 to 35 age brackets, the preferences are solid and overwhelming – 3:1 progressive parties to Conservative/Brexit parties.
Something interesting happens when you alter the cutoff ages – if your next age bracket is 30 to 39, as in a recent YouGov poll, that drops to 2:1, a significantly closer ratio but still, in polling terms, conclusive – a 30-point lead for the left over the right. However, when your age bracket is 35 to 44, as in this ICM poll, the Tories are actually one point ahead of Labour. As a political entity, “young” is now any age up to 39. Among the over-40s, opinions are a lot more divided – until you get to 70.

Brexit deal includes two-way customs checks, insists Ireland
Foreign minister challenges Johnson’s claim about goods moving from Northern Ireland to Britain
(The Guardian) “It was very clear when the deal was done,” he said in Brussels on Monday. “The EU has made it clear they want to minimise the impact on goods coming from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, but at the same time goods coming from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will need to have some checks to ensure that the EU knows what is potentially coming into their market through Northern Ireland.”
The comments contradicted Johnson’s claims, repeated last Sunday, that there would be no checks on goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.
Coveney’s tacit rebuke followed sharper censure on Monday from Arlene Foster, the Democratic Unionist party leader, who accused the prime minister of misrepresenting the Brexit deal and breaking his word to Northern Ireland.
A document leaked last week, written by officials in the government’s Brexit department, warned that Johnson’s stated goal of implementing his deal by the end of 2020 presented a major challenge because of the need to create new protocols and systems for business in Northern Ireland.
The document, obtained by the Financial Times, claimed that 98% of export businesses were “likely to struggle to bear the cost” of the extra paperwork, fuelling concerns of increased prices for consumers.
Northern Ireland customs protocol could thwart Brexit plans
Arrangement to apply part of EU customs code to region is ‘major’ block to Brexit delivery

1 December
In Prince Andrew Scandal, Prince Charles Emerges as Monarch-in-Waiting
After a public-relations debacle stirred questions about the role of Queen Elizabeth II, the Prince of Wales is asserting a newfound authority in British royal affairs.
(NYT) The Prince of Wales was said to be worried that the scandal had spiraled so rapidly that it was threatening to eclipse this month’s general election in Britain, The Times of London reported.
The latest crisis erupted at a time when Britain’s political leaders, paralyzed by Brexit, are in little position to help. Far from steadying the crown, … today’s politicians are drawing her into their own frantic machinations.
Critics accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of misleading the queen when he asked her to suspend Parliament for a period of weeks, rather than the customary few days, in an effort to curtail parliamentary discussion and action on Brexit. The decision was later declared illegal by Britain’s Supreme Court.

29 November
Bloomberg Politics: Election peril | U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is leading opinion polls but, as he heads into the final campaign stretch for the Dec. 12 election, he could be facing his biggest danger yet. …Trump’s brief visit to London next week — to mark NATO’s 70th anniversary — has senior Conservatives worried for a whole host of reasons.

27 November
UK’s Conservatives set for biggest win since 1987: YouGov model
(Reuters) – Britain’s Conservative Party is on course to win its biggest majority in parliament since 1987 at a Dec. 12 election, according to a new poll, which would give Prime Minister Boris Johnson a mandate to take the country out of the European Union.
“The swing to the Conservative party is bigger in areas that voted to Leave in 2016, with the bulk of the projected Tory gains coming in the North and the urban West Midlands, as well as former mining seats in the East Midlands,” said Wells.

25 November
All I want for Christmas is Brexit
Boris Johnson sets out timetable if he wins the election.
(Politico Eu) “My early Christmas present to the nation will be to bring the Brexit bill back before the festive break, and get parliament working for the people,” Boris Johnson said ahead of the Conservative manifesto launch on Sunday. “As families sit down to carve up their turkeys this Christmas, I want them to enjoy their festive season free from the seemingly unending Brexit box-set drama.”
But far from being free from drama, Johnson’s pledge will mean Brexit upheaval that could last right up to Christmas Eve.
Downing Street announced today that the queen will make her trip for the state opening of parliament on Thursday, December 19 — presumably with some degree of déjà vu after she went through the same ceremony in October when Johnson closed and re-opened the parliamentary session. The state opening will take a full day and no government business can be brought forward until after it is finished.

Boris Johnson plays for time with a cautious, tepid manifesto
Prime minister pins his hope on ‘getting Brexit done’ while not scoring any own goals
(The Guardian) Take no chances. Make no mistakes. Maintain strict message discipline. …the Conservatives think the only way they can lose the election is if they throw it away.
The contrast between the manifesto launched by Boris Johnson and Labour’s last week was marked. Behind in the polls and with only three weeks to go before election day, Jeremy Corbyn has gambled that voters are ready for radicalism.
The prime minister, by contrast, is seeking to run down the clock until 12 December, relying on the fact that his “get Brexit done” line has cut through. Things started to go pear-shaped for Theresa May in 2017 when her manifesto plans for social care were dubbed a “dementia tax”. This time, the Conservatives have said the answer is to build a long-term, cross-party consensus.
Johnson’s pitch throughout the campaign has been that Britain’s departure from the EU will unleash a wave of pent-up investment and, by ending the uncertainty, lead to faster economic growth. But there is no guarantee that this will happen, particularly since even if Brexit does go ahead on 31 January next year, the rest of 2020 will be spent trying to conclude a trade deal with the EU before the transition period ends,
… The safety first approach has its risks. Pledging to spend more on hospitals, schools and the police has been a recognition that voters have wearied of austerity and want a change of course. This is an election that is being fought on ground that suits Labour.

11 November
Brexit party will not contest 317 Tory-won seats, Farage says
Party leader announces election climbdown in effort to avoid splitting leave vote
Nigel Farage has said the Brexit party will not field any candidates against the Conservatives in the 317 seats they won at the last general election, after Boris Johnson committed to leaving the EU by 2020 and pursuing a Canada-style trade deal.
Farage said his party’s climbdown came after months of trying to create a leave alliance with the Tories, but he felt it was time to put the country before his party and make a “unilateral” move.
He will announce on Friday in which seats the Brexit party is standing. Speculation continues over where the party will stand but it is not expected to run in Northern Ireland or parts of Scotland.
As he spelled out his general election strategy at a rally in Hartlepool, which voted 70% to leave the UK, Farage said he had concluded that if the Brexit party had stood a candidate in every seat it could split the vote and usher in dozens of Liberal Democrat MPs and, in turn, create the circumstances for a second referendum.

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