(Bloomberg) — Boris Johnson deployed troops to flood-hit parts of northern England, as the threat of further rain underlined the risk of holding a general election in December. The prime minister has faced criticism from opposition parties over his response, and will seek to shift the focus back to campaigning with a speech in the key election battleground of the West Midlands.
Johnson speaks at 4.30 p.m., warning that a government led by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would offer “more political self-obsession and onanism”Corbyn said a Labour government would not allow a referendum on Scottish independence in its first termBrexit Party leader Nigel Farage speaks in Ilford from about 2 p.m.Former Tory minister David Gauke urges voters not to back JohnsonCabinet minister Michael Gove says a majority Conservative government would get a free-trade agreement with the EU done by the end of the Brexit transition period in Dec. 2020
Corbyn: No Scottish Referendum in First Term (12:10 p.m.)
Jeremy Corbyn said a Labour government would not allow a referendum on Scottish independence in its first term.
“No referendum in the first term for a Labour government because I think we need to concentrate completely on investment across Scotland,” Corbyn said in pooled comments. “I’m very clear that a Labour government’s priority is investment in Scotland.”
The issue is a key one because Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have repeatedly said a vote for Corbyn means a vote for two referendums next year — one on Brexit and one on Scottish independence.
Lib Dems See Boost in Farage Pullback (11:45 a.m.)
The Liberal Democrats are trying to cash in on Nigel Farage’s decision to pull Brexit Party candidates out of Conservative-held seats.
In an interview, party leader Jo Swinson said Farage’s gambit makes it easier for her party to appeal to moderate Tory voters who are appalled by the association with the Brexit Party. She’s also keen to remind voters that U.S. President Donald Trump urged Farage and Johnson to work together.
Read more: U.K.’s Liberal Democrats See Opportunity in Brexit Party Retreat
Voter to Johnson: Flood Aid ‘Too Late Now’ (10:15 a.m.)
Boris Johnson’s visit to flood-stricken areas of northern England has not yet produced the kind of footage the prime minister will have been hoping for.
Walking around with reporters and TV cameras in tow, he asked a local woman: “What more can we do?”
“It’s a little bit too late now,” she replied, filming the encounter on her smartphone. Another voter declined to discuss the issue with Johnson, turning away when the premier approached.
Speaking to Sky News, Johnson said there’s “a lot more still to be done” to help areas affected by flooding, and to prevent recurrences.
Labour Pledges ‘Rescue Plan’ for NHS (10 a.m.)
The opposition Labour Party pledged to end what it described as a “crisis” in the state-run National Health Service with a funding boost of 26 billion pounds ($33.4 billion). The increase in health spending by an average 4.3% a year will be funded by higher taxes on businesses and the wealthiest taxpayers, Labour said in an emailed statement. The party said it represents 6 billion pounds more in real terms than the government announced last year.
“The world-class health service we all need and depend on needs proper funding,” Labour’s economy spokesman John McDonnell will say in a speech in London on Wednesday, according to the party. “Labour’s policies to tax the richest in society and invest for the future through our Social Transformation Fund mean we will be able to improve millions of lives.”
Johnson to Vow to End Brexit ‘Groundhoggery’ (9:40 a.m.)
In a speech later on Wednesday, Boris Johnson will vow to end the “groundhoggery” of Brexit if he wins a majority in the Dec. 12 election and “unleash Britain’s potential” with a clean energy revolution.
“We can get out of the rut,” Johnson will say, according to lines briefed by his office. A coalition formed by Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party lies in wait for the U.K. if the Tories don’t succeed, he’ll say.
“The country can either move forwards with policies that will deliver years of growth and prosperity, or it can disappear into an intellectual cul-de-sac of far-left Corbynism,” Johnson will say. “We can honor the wishes of the people, or else we can waste more time, at the cost of a billion pounds per month, and have two more referendums, one on Scotland and one on the EU — an expense of spirit and a waste of shame, more political self-obsession and onanism.”
Gove: Tory Majority Only Way to Get Brexit Done (8:30 a.m.)
Cabinet minister Michael Gove disputed David Gauke’s assertion (see 7:30 a.m.) that voting for the Conservatives risked a hard split from the European Union. During his broadcast round, Gove told the BBC that Gauke was “precisely wrong” and said a parliamentary majority for the Tories would allow the government to deliver a free-trade agreement with the EU by the end of 2020.
“The only way we can get Brexit done and move on with the people’s priorities, investing in policing and education, is by making sure that we have a functioning majority government,” Gove said. He said politicians’ warnings of a no-deal Brexit at the end of 2020 are attempts to “raise bogeys and make people’s flesh creep.”
Gove also addressed the flooding in northern England that has rapidly become a key campaign issue. He said the government is releasing extra funds to help affected communities. “It’s certainly an emergency and it deserves a national response.”
Gauke: A Vote for Johnson Means ‘Hard Brexit’ (7:30 a.m.)
Former Tory Cabinet minister David Gauke urged voters not to support Boris Johnson, warning that “a Conservative majority after the next election will take us in the direction of a very hard Brexit.” Gauke told BBC radio it’s doubtful a free-trade deal with the European Union can be negotiated by Dec. 2020, when the Brexit transition period is due to end.
“I think in reality the prime minister is so boxed in that the Conservative Party would not allow him to extend the implementation period even if he wanted to — and he shows no signs of wanting to do so,” said Gauke, who plans to stand as an independent candidate.
Gauke also said he’s “impressed” by Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson. “I think if I was living in a lot of constituencies, I would lend my vote to the Liberal Democrats.”
Johnson Asks Troops to Fight Floods as Weather Hits U.K. BallotU.K. Recent Election Polls Summary: Conservative 40%, Labour 29%Brexit Bulletin: Johnson Told He Can’t Avoid EU ResponsibilitiesJohnson Aims Not to Be Swept Away By Floods: U.K. Campaign Trail
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