One canvasser on doorstep campaign duty in a previously-safe Labor seat in the north of England said: “It’s just been two and a half weeks of getting punched in the face. It’s getting to that point like the Mitchell and Webb sketch: are we the baddies? ”Another candidate said the party leadership was suffering from“ hubris ”after allocating of resources 80: 20 in favor of “offensive” seats rather than “defensive” ones.
The activists spoke out after it emerged at least 100 candidates had decided to play it safe by not mentioning Mr Corbyn on their campaign flyers.
The snub highlights his unpopularity with voters in Labor’s traditional heartlands where his vague position on Brexit appears to have badly backfired.
The party is still reeling from results of a YouGov poll that showed Labor faced losing dozens of seats in the Midlands and the north o f England and candidates have moved to distance themselves from Mr Corbyn by leaving his name and face of their pre-election publicity material.
Election Live(Image: PA)
Analysis of Labor campaign literature also found the party was still looking both ways on Brexit.
Candidates in Remain- supporting seats often pointed to the party’s policy of a second referendum and back staying in the EU while those on Leave constituencies try to highlight their support for Brexit.
Labor sources have conceded the party made a key mistake in overestimating the threat to the party posed by the Lib Dems while underestimating the danger of Leave voters switching directly from Labor to the Tories.
Party strategists have concentrated on trying to persuade voters that the election is about far more than Brexit. They have tried to make the NHS the key issue in the campaign.
But with polling day less than two weeks away they are now trying to win back disaffected Labor voters by claiming that the party is not seeking to stop the EU leaving the bloc.
Mr Corbyn, who has vowed to stay neutral in any campaign for a second EU referendum , is expected to tour Leave-voting Labor constituencies over the following few days.
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10. 28 am update: Sturgeon ‘would back Corbyn to block Boris’
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has hinted she could back a minority Labor government if it meant keeping Boris Johnson out of Downing St
Ms Sturgeon told BBC Woman’s Hour her party is not in favor of a formal coalition but would never do anything to help Mr Johnson remain in power.
Nicola Sturgeon hinted she would prop up a Jeremy Corbyn administration(Image: GETTY)
9. 48 am update: Johnson describes Labor shift to the left as “incredible”
When asked if Jeremy Corbyn should apologize for anti-semitism in the Labor Party, Boris Johnson said he found it “incredible ”That Labor had“ moved so far to the left ”and“ sticks up for Hamas, or Tehran, Putin ”.
He said he was deeply sorry f or the offence caused by his remarks about Muslim women whose appearance he compared with “letterboxes”.
9. 38 am update: Johnson defends decision to skip climate change debate
Boris Johnson insists his team had made it clear “we weren’t going to do” the Channel 4 leaders’ debate on climate change and denied claims he had failed to turn up.
He said: “On the contrary, I have done plenty of debates. I can’t do everything.
“I’m here talking to Nick Ferrari and giving a press conference later on.
“I can’t do every, absolutely every debate and we made it clear ages ago that we weren’t going to do that one.”
9. 30 am update: Prime Minister answers critics of “50, 000 new nurses “pledge
Boris Johnson has admitted only 31, 000 of his promised ”50, 000 new nurses “would be new recruits.
He said:” I do understand the controversy around this. There are 19, 000 that are currently in nursing at the moment. And we thank them very much. “
” The risk is they will leave the profession and we’re putting in the funds to make sure that they stay but there a further 31, 000 that we wish to recruit. “
Boris Johnson appearing on Nick Ferrari’s LBC show(Image: PA)
9. 15 am update: Boris repeats pledge to leave EU on January 31
Britain will le ave the EU on January 31 if the Tories win the general election with a majority
He told LBC: “What we can do, get the Withdrawal Bill back into the Commons before Christmas andwe’re definitely out by January 31. “
Referring to theLabor position on Brexit, Mr Johnson said: “You have a Labor shadow cabinet of which virtually every member, apart from Mr Corbyn, have said they’re in favor of Remain.
“So McDonnell, Starmer, Diane Abbott, all of them say they’re in favor of Remain.
“There’s one exception who’s in favor of a new deal, and that’s Jeremy Corbyn, but he’s not prepared to campaign in favor of a deal. And he’s going to put this absurdity to a referendum. It would be satirical if it were not so tragic. “
Pushed further on the Brexit deadline, the Prime Minister said:” If we get a working majority in the House of Commons I guarantee we will be out by January 31. “
9. 05 am update: Boris vows NHS “not for sale”
Boris Johnson has repeated his pledge that he would never put the NHS on the table in any post-Brexit trade talks with the US.
Speaking on LBC, Mr Johnson said there was “no evidence” the UK government wanted to sell the NHS.
And he accused Labor of producing “pure Bermuda triangle stuff” onclaims the health service could sold off to private interests the USonce Britain had l eft the European Union.
He said: “The NHS is not for sale and under no circumstances will this Government or any Conservative government do anything to put the NHS up for negotiation in trade talks or privatising or anything like that.
“I can tell you that were the United States or any other country to insist on that as a condition of talks, we would simply walk out.
“It is perfectly obvious as leader of this country that if any government was to be so mad as to go down that route then they would never be elected. “
8. 47 am update: Boris Johnson accused of “running scared” from Andrew Neil interview
Boris Johnson is “running scared” of being interviewed by Mr Neil, According to shadow chancellor John McDonnell.
The Prime Minister has yet to agree to a slot for a head- to-head interview on BBC with Mr Neil who has so far interviewed SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Jeremy Corbyn in what has beenwidely accepted as a car-crash encounter for the Labor leader.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Mr McDonnell said: “The reason he is doing it is because he thinks, like you know his Bullingdon Club friends, that they’re above the rest of us.
“That they don’t need to be held to account. They don’t need to treated like the rest of us. And so what he’s doing now is he’s avoiding, he’s running scared.
“Because he knows that Andrew Neil will take him apart. He’s running scared. But even if he does it now, he’s played you because he pushing it later and later beyond the postal vote returns. “
Mr Neil is due to interview Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage next week.
Boris Johnson has yet to confirm an interview date with Andrew Neil(Image: GETTY)
8. 31 am update: Stanley Johnson enters Channel 4 ice sculpture row
Boris Johnson’s father Stanley Johnson said allowing Michael Gove to appear on Channel 4’s climate debate last night would have led to an interesting discussion about an urgent matter.
Channel 4bosses refused to let Mr Gove take partafter Mr Johnson declined to participate in the televised debate and instead replaced the Prime Minister with an ice sculpture.
But the stunt was blasted by Mr Johnson snr. Hesaid: “Are you saying that Michael Gove is not a leader? Why play schoolboy games with ice sculptures? ”
He said he was not“ privy ”to where the Prime Minister was last night and saidthe melting ice sculpture row had sadly overshadowed a “majorly important debate”.
He said: “Mr Gove was a very valid substitute. He is probably the best environment secretary this country has ever had. ”
Chanel 4 bosses replaced Boris Johnson with an ice sculpture(Image: GETTY)
(8.) am update: Vaizey warns Tories over Channel 4 threats
Former Tory minister Ed Vaizey has warned it is “not a sensible strategy for political parties to threaten broadcasters”.
Mr Vaizey spoke out after reports the Tories might review Channel 4’s public service broadcasting position after it replaced Boris Johnson with a melting ice sculpture when he refused to take part in a climate change debate.
He said: “It’s not a sensible strategy for political parties to threaten broadcasters in that way, so I was disappointed.
” It was an anonymous briefing, I don’t think it’s the settled view of the Conservative Party or the Government. “
Mr Vaizey was culture minister between 2010 and 2016. He had the Tory whip removed after voting for efforts in the Commons to block a no-deal Brexit but later had it restored. He is not standing for re-election at the General Election.
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John McDonnell is launching Labor’s regional manifestos(Image: GETTY)
8. 05 update: McDonnell denies Labor campaign strategy switch
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Labor is not changing its campaign strategy to target Leave-voting areas.
It was reported the party would change its focus to these areas, following a YouGov poll on Wednesday which suggested the Tories were on course to win a majority by picking up votes in Labor seats which voted to leave the EU.
But speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today program Mr McDonnell said: “There’s no change in strategy.
” I don’t know where this story has come. People have put two and two together and made five. “
(7.) am update: Labor’s regional manifestos dismissed as “a distraction”
Labor is set to launch a manifesto in every region of England under plans to hand “wealth and power back to every community”.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said investment will breathe new life into local economies across the country and bring pride back to communities by kickstarting a Green Industrial Revolution in every part of the UK.
) But the Tories have dismissed the proposals as a “distraction”.
Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry, said: “This is a clear distraction from Corbyn’s failure to set
“Every region in England outside of London voted to leave the European Union. f Corbyn’s Labor want to deliver for the people who live there, he should start with that.
“The only thing on offer from Labor is the chaos of another two referendums. ”