General election 2017: Tories ‘can’t promise’ to hit immigration target, says David Davis – politics live
Welcome back to the final Friday of campaigning. By this time next week everything will be, if not over, at least clearer. Ish. I’m Claire Phipps with your morning roundup; the live blog will steer you through the rest of the day.
Manifestos are a funny thing: we assume most voters don’t read them, but we like to think that the politicians haggling for our votes have. This is also why we like them to get their numbers right, or not to pretend that a howling u-turn was there all along. It’s also why, when a senior government minister contradicts the PM within hours on a key manifesto ingredient, those whose job it is to condense daily politics news into a handy morning briefing can get a bit tetchy.
The Conservative commitment-turned-pledge-turned-aspiration to cut net immigration to the tens of thousands made it into the manifesto for the third time, despite never sighting success. Yesterday, Theresa May teetered perilously close to making it a commitment again, agreeing with policing minister Brandon Lewis that it should happen “over the course of the next parliament”.
“That’s what we’re working for,” May confirmed.
But on BBC Question Time hours later, the Brexit secretary David Davis wasn’t so sure:
Five years is a long time in politics, especially when May is, she told us yesterday, “just focused on polling day”. (You thought she was just focused on Brexit negotiations? That was the day before yesterday.) Perhaps that’s why the PM did not join her French, German and Italian counterparts in their statement scolding Donald Trump’s decision to crumple up the US copy of the Paris climate agreement and lob it in the non-recyclables bin. Downing Street later said May had voiced her “disappointment” to the US president, as Nicola Sturgeon accused her of an “appalling abdication of leadership” and Labour’s Emily Thornberry claimed she had “failed to raise even the quietest peep in protest”.
Theresa May: it’s oh so quiet. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/AFP/Getty Images
With both May and Jeremy Corbyn making speeches on a post-EU UK yesterday, we now have a misty idea of what Brexit means, and it’s either terrible or completely brilliant, and don’t trouble yourself too much with the knotty details. The PM set out her 12-point plan for a brighter Brexit, which stretched the definition of plan with “points” including:
- 1. Provide certainty and clarity.
- 3. Strengthen the union.
- 5. Control immigration.
- 12. Deliver a smooth orderly exit from the EU.
(Don’t @ me: the other eight bullet points do appear in the plan, although that would have been a forgotten numbers gaffe to make a fuss about.)
While this sets the Tories apart from parties pledging uncertainty, obfuscation and an unruly stampede to the emergency brexits, it does still leave a few questions unanswered. Such as: yes, but what are you actually going to do?
Could Labour be more specific? Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said they wouldn’t be putting a figure on migration. Corbyn confirmed that – unlike the “no deal is better than a bad deal” PM – he wouldn’t walk away without … something:
Tim Farron, the latest leader to face the BBC’s Andrew Neil, knew what deal he wanted, and it sounded rather like being a member of the EU:
Tim Farron would campaign to stay in EU in second referendum
With Neil labelling the Lib Dem leader “a Eurosceptic remoaner” and “a populist who’s not popular”, and May telling us that Corbyn “doesn’t believe in Britain” (whenever a politician says “I don’t believe in Britain” there’s a little cup of tea somewhere that goes tepid), is there any respite from final-week jibes? Even the Economist, while endorsing the Lib Dems, called it “a dismal choice” and predicts “a dreadful result” for its chosen party.
All round for a jam sandwich at Corbyn’s house then, where, he told journalists yesterday, even his own party critics would be welcome:
Cosying up would be Bernie Sanders, who last night told an audience at the Brighton festival that Corbyn had his backing.
Not included in the embrace? The SNP, Lib Dems, Greens or any other party that might be angling for an alliance in the event of a hung parliament. Corbyn and Thornberry said there would be “no deals, no coalitions, no pacts” under a Labour minority administration. Or possibly no anything, under Thornberry’s plan:
Today we’re gearing up for another bout of May v Corbyn that doesn’t involve May or Corbyn clapping eyes on each other. Each will step up separately with David Dimbleby for a BBC Question Time special. But first, the PM will be making sure she doesn’t fluff her figures on Woman’s Hour by remembering her figures – no, sorry, by not showing us the costings for her manifesto and sending education secretary Justine Greening to Radio 4 instead.
At a glance:
How’s that Tory revival looking in Wales? According to a fresh poll by YouGov for ITV and Cardiff University – and in keeping with other recent YouGov results – not as rosy as it was. April saw the Tories atop Labour by 40% to 30%, though that had reversed by mid-May. Yesterday’s poll keeps Labour ahead, 46% to 35%, a projection that could see them swipe back two seats – Gower and the Vale of Clwyd – from the Conservatives. This, as with other polls showing the Tories on a shakier footing, relies on ample young voters turning out.
Plaid Cymru, the Lib Dems and Ukip would stay as they were, on this projection, with respectively three seats, one and zero.
No surprise in the Evening Standard poll by the ever-busy YouGov that puts Labour on 50% over the Tories on 33% in London. But for the first time, the capital’s voters rated Corbyn (37%) over May (34%) as the best candidate for PM.
Jeremy Corbyn: taking the metropolitan line. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA
- At 9am, Tim Farron faces Nick Ferrari for the LBC Leaders Live event.
- Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on job creation is at 9.30am.
- At 10am, Caroline Lucas and Natalie Bennett are in Sheffield to pledge Green support for immigrants and free movement.
- Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie campaigns in Edinburgh this morning, as does Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, but not together.
- Nicola Sturgeon takes the SNP roadshow to four Scottish constituencies; and her Tory counterpart Ruth Davidson is in Moray.
- John McDonnell, David Gauke and Susan Kramer attend a small business hustings at London’s Imperial War museum at 11am.
- At 5.30pm, Ukip’s Suzanne Evans faces the LBC radio phone-in.
- And the big Friday night special is Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn – separately, naturally – in a BBC Question Time with David Dimbleby. That’s 8.30pm in York and on the telly.
If the PM does not get the landslide she was hoping for in calling a snap election, what, asks Mary Dejevsky in the Independent, might this mean for Brexit?
What would it mean that a prime minister who went to the country seeking an explicit parliamentary mandate for Brexit had essentially been rebuffed? (And this would surely be the significance of anything less than a clearly increased majority.) As seen from Brussels – or Berlin or Paris – the British bargaining position would be substantially weakened. The government’s mandate would be a lot less convincing than it would have been without a vote. How would any UK prime minister then proceed?
One consequence could be that the initiative passes from the government to parliament. Given that the election post-dated the referendum, a slim victory for May (or less) could encourage those many MPs with misgivings about Brexit to take another look at the ‘will of the people’. They could well argue that now an election had been fought on Brexit – after all, this is what Theresa May intended, even though many other issues came to cloud the vote – the ‘will of the people’ was rather less clear.
We’ve all heard the Corbyn cheerleaders. But there are shy Corbynites too, writes Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett in the Guardian:
I had become so used to political commentators popping up every time I expressed admiration for Corbyn’s principles to call me naive or a narcissist or an Islington-dwelling champagne socialist or a loony lefty, as though we were in some pompous game of whack-a-mole, that I began to sort of believe it. But I never did stop believing in the same things Corbyn does – in equality, social justice, social mobility and peace. Nor did I ever doubt that families such as my own would be much better off under a Labour government than a Tory one. Which is why I’m going to vote for him again.
One for those who like to plan ahead for results night (welcome; I have found my people): Press Association’s estimated declaration times for each constituency.
. @afneil "Has there been a worse Tory campaign in living memory?" @michaelgove "Yes, my one for the leadership" #bbctw
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