General Election 2019: Conservative manifesto launches amid more fact check questions

Boris Johnson expected to face questions over his election promises, Tony Blair to speak out and Nicola Sturgeon will be on the Andrew Neil show tonight- all this and more in today’s general election briefing.

Conservative party manifesto questions

Boris Johnson is expected to face questions this week over the veracity of his election promises after his manifesto was called into question by Labour and fact-checkers.

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The Prime Minister's pledge of boosting the NHS with another 50,000 nurses secured headlines following the Conservative Party manifesto's unveiling in Telford in the West Midlands on Sunday.But Labour said the figure was disingenuous when it included 19,000 nurses who the Tories wanted to re-train, and another 12,000 from overseas.

It means only 19,000 posts would be filled by new nurse trainees enjoying the return of maintenance grants - bursaries scrapped by former Tory chancellor George Osborne.

Cons govt wilfully mismanaged NHS for yrs, presided over staff leaving, failed to replace them, & made the NHS dangerous - resulting in a shortage of >40,000 nurses. They stole the nurses bursary. More nurses & the grant back = simply replacing their cuts.#ConservativeManifesto

— Dr Lauren Gavaghan (@DancingTheMind) November 24, 2019

A Tory source confirmed this following the PM's speech, telling reporters: "We know that we have an issue with retention of the nursing workforce and so we would have plans to keep more nurses in the profession."

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Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: "The Conservatives' claim on nurses is frankly deceitful - the sums simply don't add up. First we had Johnson's fake 40 new hospitals, now we have his fake 50,000 extra nurses."

Independent fact-checking organisation Full Fact also pulled the Tory leader up on his claim that his ministers would increase day-to-day government spending by only £3 billion. The figure is small compared to Labour's promised £83 billion increase in spending, paid for by higher taxes on big businesses and the highest 5 per cent of earners.

But Full Fact said, despite Chancellor Sajid Javid promising the "most transparent costings that have ever been published in British electoral history", the Tories had not explained how every pledge in the manifesto would be funded.

"While the Conservatives plan to increase annual current spending by £3 billion compared to what's already been announced, the Conservatives plan to spend a lot more than £3 billion extra per year than we spend today," said a Full Fact spokesman.

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'For every extra £1 the Tories spend running the government, Labour are planning to spend £28'On today's #CampaignCheck @EdConwaySky looks at how the spending plans in the #Conservativemanifesto match up against the other parties.#GE19Read more here:

— Sky News (@SkyNews) November 24, 2019

"For example, the Conservative manifesto spending list omits its headline pledges on school funding, the NHS, and (creating 20,000 more) police officers."

Chief executive Will Moy said the Conservative Party could "do more to meet the standards we expect" when it came to providing voters with "accurate and honest" information in the run up to polling day on December 12.

Andrew Neil interviews

As the campaign enters its final two-and-a-half weeks, party leaders are set to see their promises put under the microscope, with forensic interviews by the BBC's Andrew Neil scheduled.

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SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon will be the first to be quizzed on Monday evening, before the spotlight is put on Labour's Jeremy Corbyn on Tuesday. Before then, a former Labour leader will have his say on Mr Johnson's proposals for Brexit.

Tony Blair speech

Tony Blair is due to give a speech on today in which he is expected to brand the PM's plans "fantasy" and urge voters to think tactically at the upcoming election.

Mr Johnson, in his manifesto-launching speech, said he would "get Brexit done and we will end the acrimony and the chaos".

But three-times election winner Mr Blair, speaking at a Reuters Newsmaker event, is due to say that the former London mayor's "cheek is quite breath-taking" and predict that the Brexit talks could go on well beyond the 2020 deadline re-committed to by the Tories.

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He will say in his speech that voters should look at this election seat by seat, describing the General Election as "650 mini elections".

Lib Dems warn of Boris Johnson becoming Trump's 'poodle'

Chuka Umunna, the Liberal Democrat's foreign affairs spokesman, will issue a similar warning to voters in a bid to get them to switch their allegiance to his party.

The former Labour man will, in a speech today, warn that Mr Johnson will become Donald Trump's "poodle" if the Tories win the election and take the UK out of the EU. It is part of a pitch, sanctioned by Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, to paint the pro-EU party as the only group that can deny Mr Johnson a Commons majority.

Analysis by Datapraxis was released over the weekend showing that if voters switched to the Lib Dems in Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab's seat of Esher and Walton, he could be ousted by a Remain alliance.

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"There is a real opportunity for Liberal Democrats to win seats from the Conservatives and stop Boris Johnson and his bad Brexit deal," Ms Swinson told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme.

Mr Johnson will resume campaigning in Wales, while Mr Corbyn will be in South Yorkshire discussing Labour's £58 billion compensation promise to Waspi women who lost out financially when the retirement age was pushed back from 60 to 66.

The Brexit Party's Nigel Farage is due to campaign in a Leave-voting area of the South West.

Labour to take on 'dodgy' landlords

Labour has pledged to take on "dodgy" landlords and introduce a charter of renters' rights.The party will announce a new national "property MOT" to deal with what they say is the problem of squalid private rental housing.

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The balance of power between landlords and tenants is out of whack.Rent controls, open-ended tenancies, and an end to no fault evictions will give renters more agency over their lives.This is real change.

— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) November 25, 2019

Under the plans, there would be a legal requirement for landlords to complete an independent annual inspection to ensure homes are up to scratch, and if landlords let out sub-standard properties or flout the rules they will face fines of up to £100,000 and forced repayment of rent to tenants.

Labour said its research has found that tenants collectively pay more than £10 billion a year in rent to landlords letting out sub-standard homes.

Hot take:

"The Conservatives have consolidated their opinion poll lead ahead of Boris Johnson’s election manifesto launch.

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"Surveys over the weekend put them in an average lead of 12 to 13 percentage points, enough to return Mr Johnson to Downing Street with a handsome majority on 12 December.

"Labour’s failure to advance in the polls will disappoint opposition figures who hoped that the release of its manifesto on Thursday would win over wavering voters.

"The Liberal Democrats are also failing to make progress, while the Tories appear to be squeezing support for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

"However, all parties are well aware that the gap between the Tories and Labour was similar at this stage of the 2017 election before narrowing dramatically in the run-up to polling day.

"Strategists also warn that changes in political allegiance tend to take several days to feed through into headline voting intentions."