Alliances, resignations, promises and an ‘actual sh*t’ – election campaign catch-up

News Westminster

Voters have been promised billions in extra spending whichever party wins the general election as politicians scramble to attract support before December 12’s general election.

It’s only the second day of official campaigning but already we have seen a cabinet resignation, top politicians standing down, the formation of a Remain Alliance, rejection of a Leave Pact, warnings about “weaponising the NHS” in the election campaign and promises of a public spending bonanza.

Rees-Mogg – ‘an actual piece of shit’

Grime star Stormzy told Jacob Rees-Mogg “you’re an actual piece of shit” following the Leader of the House’s appalling interview on LBC on Monday, when he suggested Grenfell Tower victims should have used “common sense” and ignored the fire brigade’s instruction to stay-put to escape the fire that claimed 72 lives.

Rees-Mogg – whose sister is a member of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party – has maintained a low public profile since and has so far resisted multiple calls for his resignation.

The 50-year-old MP for North East Somerset was expected to play a prominent role in the election campaign but the Mail report he has been “sidelined by the Tories” and “forced to make a grovelling apology to survivors of the Grenfell Fire tragedy.”

The ‘nasty party’

Andrew Bridgen MP for North West Leicestershire stepped up to try and defend Rees-Mogg’s “uncharacteristically clumsy” comments on BBC Radio 4’s PM show. He was asked by Evan Davis if the Leader of the Commons was saying he would not have died because he was “cleverer” than the residents who took the fire brigade’s advice.

Bridgen replied: “But we want very clever people running the country, don’t we Evan? And that is a bi-product of what Jacob is. And that is why he is in a position of authority.”

The remarks caused even more outrage and calls for Bridgen to also step down as a candidate with Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator Andrew Gwynne describing the comments as “contemptible”. Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: “Gross superiority. Unforgivable.”

Theresa May famously referred to the Tories as being seen as the “nasty party” in 2002 and Labour have already targeted the “born-to-rule-Tory” trope as a key theme for the December 12 election.

Secretary of State resigns after ‘brazenly lying’ about sabotaged rape trial

A further blow to the Conservative’s election campaign launch came with the resignation of Alun Cairns the Welsh Secretary after he was accused of “brazenly lying” about knowing of an allegation that a former aide sabotaged a rape trial.

Cairns had claimed he was unaware of his former aide Ross England’s role in the rape case. England had made claims about the victim’s sexual history during evidence after which Judge Stephen Hopkins told him: “You have managed, singlehandedly, and I have no doubt it was deliberate on your part, to sabotage this trial.”

The judge said he would “be writing personal letters to people who are politically close to you and I hope they take appropriate action. Get out of my court.”

England was later made a Conservative candidate for the 2021 Welsh assembly and the Tory party had claimed Cairns was “completely unaware” of the details about the case. However,  BBC Wales published an email on Tuesday that was received by Cairns more than a year before the aide’s role in the rape trial became public knowledge.

The victim in the rape trial told BBC Wales the case shows why women don’t alert police and that England’s selection as a candidate by the Tories “shows how little respect they have for me”.

Lord Davies of Gower, chairman of Welsh Conservatives told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast: “There will be an apology if I find out that one should be forthcoming.”

Shadow secretary for Wales Christina Rees said Cairns was “brazenly lying” and any claims he did not know anything about the case were “patently, palpably absurd.”

Top politicians stand down

More than 60 serving MPs will not stand in the general election with the toxic-political climate being blamed as the reason for many high profile withdrawals. Among the MPs stepping down are former cabinet ministers Amber Rudd, Nicky Morgan and Philip Hammond while Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson announced his shock resignation from front line politics on Wednesday.

Father of the House Ken Clarke, Winston Churchill’s grandson Nicolas Soames and former Speaker John Bercow will also be absent from the candidates’ list.

Unite to Remain alliance

The Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Green party are “putting politics aside” to create an alliance to avoid splitting the remain vote in more than 60 constituencies. The parties have agreed to stand-down candidates to give voters one “remain choice” on the ballot.

 Public spending bonanza

Chancellor Sajid Javid has said low interest rates provide “new rules for a new economic era” and promised £20bn in extra borrowing for infrastructure and tax cuts.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell underlined Labour’s radical plan with a commitment to invest $400bn to tackle the “twin crises” of the climate emergency and social deprivation.

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