Boris Johnson is hammering home his key messages on Brexit and the NHS today as Tory MPs breathed a sigh of relief that the manifesto had ‘avoided the booby traps’.
The PM is campaigning in Wales after unveiling the ‘safety first’ programme yesterday, focusing on pledges to get the UK out of the EU, recruit more nurses, and cut taxes.
The Tory offer deliberately made no effort to compete with the extraordinary spending splurge proposed by Labour.
Jeremy Corbyn has put forward an eye-watering £83billion a year in day-to-day spending, plus hundreds of billions on nationalisation – including the state seizing chunks of BT to offer everyone free broadband.
In an apparent sign of desperation yesterday, shadow chancellor John McDonnell announced another £58billion would be handed to women pensioners – despite the measure not having been costed in its manifesto.
Boris Johnson is campaigning in Wales after unveiling the ‘safety first’ programme yesterday (pictured), focusing on pledges to get the UK out of the EU, recruit more nurses, and cut taxes
A Survation poll published last night put the Tories 11 points ahead – almost certainly enough for a comfortable majority
A Survation poll published last night put the Tories 11 points ahead – almost certainly enough for a comfortable majority.
Launching the Tory document in Telford yesterday, Mr Johnson mocked Mr Corbyn’s decision to take a ‘neutral’ stance in a second referendum, saying: ‘He used to be indecisive, now, he’s not so sure.’
Senior Tories acknowledged that they had taken a ‘safety first’ approach with the manifesto, following the disastrous unravelling of Theresa May’s 2017 prospectus, which is widely thought to have cost her a Commons majority.
Pledges to bring back grammar schools and allow a Commons vote on repealing the foxhunting ban were dropped.
And the social care crisis was fudged, with only a commitment to inject an extra £1billion a year and hold cross-party talks in the future.
One Tory MP in a Northern seat told MailOnline: ‘He avoided the booby traps. He is like a man carrying a ming vase on a slippery floor.’
They said Conservative support ‘felt quite solid’ and was ‘far more positive’ than at the same stage in 2017. ‘As long as they can keep this up over the next 17 days I can imagine that there are going to be some good solid gains,’ the MP said.
Ministers scarred by the row over Mrs May’s ‘Dementia Tax’ said the PM was right to keep the manifesto vague.
One said: ‘If it’s not being talked about by tomorrow evening, that’s a good thing.’
The Tory event came as a string of polls suggested Labour’s manifesto had fallen flat with voters, leaving the Tories with a double-digit lead. One major analysis put them on course for a majority of 48.
The relatively modest nature of the new Tory pledges means that for every £30 Labour has committed to new day-to-day spending, the Tories will spend just £1.
Conservative plans for an additional £100billion in capital spending are dwarfed by Labour’s £400billion proposals, which do not cover the cost of nationalising parts of the economy, such as rail, energy, water and broadband.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell also announced a further £58billion to fund pensions for older women yesterday.
The manifesto confirmed a string of pledges, a handful of them new, including:
- A commitment to raise the starting rate for paying national insurance to £9,500, giving most workers a tax cut worth almost £100;
- £2billion to fill in potholes and £3billion to improve flood defences;
- A ‘triple lock’ on tax that rules out any increases in the headline rates of income tax, VAT and national insurance;
- A vow to end hospital car park charges, although some will still have to pay up;
- An Australian-style points-based immigration system for after Brexit.
Many of the biggest commitments, such as billions of pounds for schools and hospitals are already in spending plans and are not included in a financial ‘scoresheet’ accompanying the manifesto.
Mr Johnson had pledged to raise the threshold for paying 40p tax from £50,000 to £80,000 and hinted at scrapping stamp duty on homes worth less than £500,000.
But neither policy made the cut in yesterday’s manifesto.
And the PM said better-off voters would have to wait for more substantial tax cuts. ‘I have not lost any of my tax-cutting zeal,’ he said.
‘The cut in national insurance helps every taxpayer in the country. But at this juncture, as a result of the economic disaster left behind by the last Labour government, it is right to focus our tax cuts on the people who need them most.’
Paul Johnson, director of the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies, said: ‘If the Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos were notable for the scale of their ambitions the Conservative one is not.
‘If a single budget had contained all these tax and spending proposals we would have been calling it modest.
‘The lack of significant policy action is remarkable.’
Boris Johnson’s blueprint for post-Brexit Britain: From a million more homes to 50,000 new nurses and an Australian-style immigration system, JACK DOYLE assesses how the Tory’s ‘sensible’ manifesto adds up
Compared with Labour’s vast spending spree, the Tory manifesto is a model of fiscal restraint.
Instead of big spending commitments, Boris Johnson’s core messages – on Brexit and public services funding – are aimed at securing victory at the polls.
Here Associate Editor JACK DOYLE details the policies and analyses their impact.
Tory Manifesto Pledges Analysis
Get Brexit Done and Unleash Britain’s Potential; Leave the EU before the end of January; No extension to the transition beyond 2020.
Analysis: The central Tory campaign message is aimed to unite frustrated Leave voters and Remainers who just want to move on, and contrast Mr Johnson’s decisiveness with Jeremy Corbyn’s fence-sitting. The tough message on not extending transition is aimed at would-be Brexit Party voters.
£34billion a year more for the NHS; 6,000 more GPs; 40 new hospitals by 2030, bursaries to help train 50,000 more nurses; no Trump sell-off, some free hospital parking.
Analysis: In a rapid turnaround, some polls show Mr Johnson ahead of Jeremy Corbyn on the NHS, a sign that increased funding – £650million more a week – is more than neutralising Labour’s core message. An unequivocal pledge not to privatise the health service.
Compared with Labour’s vast spending spree, the Tory manifesto is a model of fiscal restraint
National Insurance cut worth £100 next year; ‘ambition’ to increase to £500 by 2024; no increase in income tax, VAT or NI.
Analysis: Higher earners can be confident their taxes won’t go up, but they aren’t guaranteed a tax cut. Instead Mr Johnson is targeting his limited tax-cutting pledges at lower earners who will get £100 back next year because, he said, they ‘need them most’.
Australian-style points system to control immigration; fewer lower skilled migrants; NHS Visa; no benefits for five years.
Analysis: Mr Johnson promises to ‘take control’ and get numbers down while letting in the ‘brightest and best’, is designed to show moderation and attract the highly skilled and NHS staff while exposing Labour’s lax open door policy.
Another big spending promise designed to crack down on rising crime and restore the party’s reputation on Law and Order is the promise of 20,000 more police officers; tougher stop and search powers; tasers; knife crime crackdown
20,000 more police officers; tougher stop and search powers; tasers; knife crime crackdown.
Analysis: Another big spending promise designed to crack down on rising crime and restore the party’s reputation on Law and Order.
Longer jail terms for violent and sexual offenders; whole life for child killers; 10,000 more prison places; crackdown on traveller camps.
Analysis: Protecting the ‘law-abiding majority’ by keeping criminals in jail for longer sends a clear message about Mr Johnson’s priorities.
One billion extra a year for social care; cross party review; promise no-one has to sell their home to pay for care.
Analysis: No fully costed system yet but a ‘cast iron guarantee’ of a new system in five years and a clear signal of intent – more money and a crucial pledge that pensioners won’t have to sell their homes, to avoid the ‘dementia tax’ nightmare of 2017.
The central Tory campaign message is aimed to unite frustrated Leave voters and Remainers who just want to move on, and contrast Mr Johnson’s decisiveness with Jeremy Corbyn’s fence-sitting
£14billion extra every year; minimum £4,000 for primary and £5,000 secondary per pupil; £30,000 starting salary for teachers; £2billion for FE colleges.
Analysis: Another weak spot in 2017 neutralised with more cash, designed to ‘level up’ funding in ‘left behind’ areas and sustain Mr Johnson’s pledge to spread opportunity.
Mr Johnson shows a return to the ‘vote blue, go green’ pitch to voters – showing the influence of his eco-activist girlfriend Carrie Symonds (pictured)
Net zero carbon emissions by 2050; triple tree-planting to 30million a year; ban fracking; £4billion extra for flood defences; 40GW offshore wind; ban dumping of plastic waste overseas.
Analysis: A return to the ‘vote blue, go green’ pitch to voters – showing the influence of Mr Johnson’s eco-activist girlfriend Carrie Symonds.
Increase to £10.50 per hour by 2024; starts from 21 not 25.
Analysis: A wage boost to millions which also shows low income voters Mr Johnson is on their side, appeals to the young and neutralises a Labour attack.
The Tory manifesto promises a wage boost to millions which also shows low income voters Mr Johnson is on their side, appeals to the young and neutralises a Labour attack
No cut to winter fuel allowance or bus pass, keep the pensions ‘triple lock’ to increase pensions.
Analysis: No repeat of the 2017 threat to winter fuel payments and pensions which alienated core Tory voters.
Debt to be lower at the end of the Parliament; public sector net investment no higher than 3 per cent of GDP.
Analysis: Higher borrowing for capital projects and infrastructure to take advantage of historically low rates, but no Labour-style spending splurge.
Boris Johnson has promised £34billion a year more for the NHS; 6,000 more GPs; 40 new hospitals by 2030, bursaries to help train 50,000 more nurses; no Trump sell-off, some free hospital parking
End ‘witch hunt’ Northern Ireland veterans; no Armed Forces cuts; exceed NATO two per cent spending; Trident.
Analysis: Modest increases to defence spending and a vital lifeline to Northern Ireland veterans in an area where Corbyn is weak.
1million more homes by 2024; £10billion for housing infrastructure; protect the Green Belt; end to leasehold scandal.
Analysis: Increase the number of new homes to appeal to young voters while not building on protected areas.
It promises 1million more homes by 2024; £10billion for housing infrastructure; protect the Green Belt; end to leasehold scandal
No changes to Hunting Act; end live export of animals; tougher sentences for animal cruelty.
Analysis: Fox hunting dealt Theresa May a damaging blow so there will be no repeat and instead a series of animal friendly policies.
Rail and Road
£500million to reverse Beeching cuts, Northern Powerhouse Rail; minimum service during strikes; HS2 review; £28.8 billion for roads; £2billion pothole fund.
Analysis: A huge capital investment programme designed to improve productivity and reconnect areas which feel cut off, and a trade union law to ensure services don’t collapse.
Full fibre and gigabit broadband across the UK by 2025; £5billion to reach far flung places.
Analysis: A key Johnson pledge from the leadership campaign to help businesses in rural areas who complain of slow speeds.
Cut rates for smaller pubs, shops and cinemas to help the high street; double R&D spending.
Analysis: A one-off business rate relief and promise of a longer term review to help the struggling high street and billions more for research and development spending.