Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn face election debate fallout
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Tim Sainsbury -- a former long-time Conservative lawmaker who was a trade minister under Margaret Thatcher -- has endorsed the Liberal Democrats in the upcoming elections.
Writing in The Times, Sainsbury said he would vote for the Lib Dems because "the prospect of a no deal or a hard Brexit risks turning an economic setback into an economic disaster."
The opinion piece penned by Sainsbury -- a member of the family that founded the eponymous UK supermarket giant -- comes just two days after several British newspapers reported he had made a major donation to the Liberal Democrats.
British media, including the BBC, the PA news agency and the Guardian, have combed through the official candidate lists, and the data shows that a record number of women are standing as candidates in the upcoming UK general election.
But male candidates outnumber women 3:1, and a significant number of female MPs have quit politics ahead of the election.
50:50 Parliament, an organization that campaigns for Parliament equality, said there are still not enough women candidates and urged more women to stand in the future. It said:
There are 32 million women in the UK which is 51% of the population. Women make a massive contribution to society in their paid and unpaid work. They merit fair representation and inclusion in the most important decision-making institution in our country.
These days, everyone is concerned about foreign actors spreading disinformation in the run-up to elections. Until now, in the United Kingdom at least, we've not had to worry about the governing party indulging in the same practice.
But that's where we are.
During Tuesday night's debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, the official Twitter account that represents the press department of Johnson's Conservative Party changed its name from CCHQPress (CCHQ is for Conservative Campaign Headquarters) to "factcheckUK." The account's bio stated that it would be "Fact checking Labour from CCHQ."
Read the full analysis here.
The election campaign is underway, which means it's time for photo ops at schools.
Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson launched her party's manifesto on Wednesday. But just before that, she made a quick stop in a school in Cambridge.
The Lib Dems have made major education funding promises in this campaign. The fresh photos of smiling Swinson surrounded by kids in school uniforms will have been intended to drive that point home.
But Swinson is definitely not the only one heading back to school during this campaign. School visits are a long-established staple.
Here is Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pictured at the Scrap Creative Reuse Arts Project in Leeds earlier this month:
And this is Boris Johnson visiting a primary school in Taunton last week:
The Liberal Democrats are going big on green policies in their election manifesto, hoping to tap into younger voters for whom climate is one of the top priorities.
The party has formed a pro-Remain electoral coalition with the Green Party and Wales' Plaid Cymru, meaning the three will not run against each other in a number of key constituencies. That makes the Lib Dems' focus on climate even more important, because the party will need to appeal to voters who would otherwise vote for the Greens.
One idea the party floated on Wednesday is a new tax on flying. They didn't go into much detail, but said the tax would not apply to people who only take one or two flights a year.
They promise to:
Reduce the climate impact of flying by reforming the taxation of international flights to focus on those who fly the most, while reducing costs for those who take one or two international return flights per year.
The party also said it would place a moratorium on the development of new runways in the UK and oppose any expansion of London's three biggest airports. They also called for an overhaul of the rules that govern plane fuels, and suggested that airlines should be required to use lower-carbon blended fuels for domestic flights.
The Liberal Democrats have made a bold claim on Wednesday, saying that staying in the European Union would save the UK £50 billion ($64.5 billion).
The party said it would invest this "Remain Bonus" in public services and programs aimed at tackling inequality.
How reasonable is this promise?
Most economists, including those at the highly respected Institute of Fiscal Studies, the Bank of England and the UK Treasury, agree that the UK economy would grow faster in the event of no Brexit compared to a situation where the country leaves the EU with a deal. A no-deal Brexit -- in which Britain crashes out of the EU without an agreement on future relations -- would likely push the economy into a recession.
However, putting a precise number on the extra growth is tricky -- the economy is a complex beast shaped by a whole array of events, many of which are completely outside the government's control.
The Lib Dems are basing their claim on the assumption that the economy would be 2% larger by 2025.
FullFact, a UK independent factchecking charity, said the claim was "a reasonable estimate but highly uncertain." The charity said:
This is a fair assessment of the best available forecasts, comparing Remain to a Brexit deal scenario. But those forecasts themselves contain a high degree of uncertainty, so we shouldn’t treat £50 billion as definitive.
The Liberal Democrats officially launched their election manifesto today.
The party is hoping to flip seats from both the Conservative and Labour parties. They are focusing on two groups: Conservative voters who do not agree with Brexit, and Labour voters who think Jeremy Corbyn's policies are too leftist.
While Lib Dems' key message is about stopping Brexit, Wednesday is about showing voters they are not a single-issue party.
Here's what they are promising:
- To stop Brexit by revoking Article 50, and to invest the £50 billion so-called "Remain Bonus" into public services and tackling inequality.
- To tackle the climate emergency by generating 80% of the UK's electricity from renewables by 2030 and by insulating all low-income homes by 2025.
- To improve education by hiring 20,000 more teachers as part of an extra £10 billion a year for schools.
- To provide free childcare from 9 months.
- To give every adult £10,000 to spend on skills & training throughout their lives.
- To transform the UK's mental health services by treating mental health with the same urgency as physical health.
The Conservative Party is facing a barrage of criticism after rebranding its verified Twitter account as "factcheckUK" during the debate last night.
The party has already been reprimanded by Twitter and the incident prompted the election regulator to call for campaign transparency.
Twitter users are also out in force, criticizing the Tories and poking fun at the stunt. #factcheckUK is trending on Twitter in the UK.
One user has asked the Conservative Party to fact check the debunked claim made repeatedly by Boris Johnson that the UK pays the EU £350 million a week.
Another hypothesized that the incident was a result of a typo.