General Election 2019: Boris Johnson ducks climate debate as IFS calls main parties’ manifestos ‘not credible’

General Election 2019: Boris Johnson ducks climate debate as IFS calls main parties’ manifestos ‘not credible’
(Left to right) Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Green Party Co-Leader Sian Berry, before the start of the Channel 4 News' General Election climate debate (Photo: Kirsty O'Connor - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Johnson and Farage duck out of climate debate, “racist” Johnson book rediscovered, and the IFS labels Labour and Tory spending plans “not credible” – all this and more in today’s election brief.

Climate change debate – the key quotes

For the first time ever in a General Election, party leaders have debated the climate emergency in a special edition of Channel 4 News.

Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage both refused to take part, and were replaced by ice sculptures in the debate, which was hosted by Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

Reacting to the ice sculptures, the Conservatives made a formal complaint to the broadcasting regulator Ofcom, insisting that the sculptures represented a “provocative partisan stunt”.

Here are some of the key quotes from the leaders who did turn up to face public scrutiny:

Sian Berry, Green Party: “Tonight, every leader on this stage will agree with me. They will all work very hard to sound a bit like the Green Party.”

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party: “The climate movement has changed our politics forever, and Labour has listened. Labour is on your side and on the side of the environment.”

Adam Price, Plaid Cymru: “As a new father the climate crisis feels personal now. What I want to do is combine hope with urgency.”

Nicola Sturgeon, SNP: “Tackling the global climate emergency is a moral obligation. It is a big challenge but one that we all must meet.”

Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrats: “The climate crisis is even more important than Brexit, but Brexit a climate crime. It is morally wrong to leave our seat at the table and give up our influence to create the change we need across the world.”

Passages from ‘horrific’ novel by Boris Johnson branded racist

Boris Johnson has been accused of racism after sections of a book he penned in 2004 were revisited.

Critics have highlighted the use of “racist” and “sexist” language in the novel, Seventy-Two Virgins: a Comedy of Errors, ahead of the general election.

The book refers to Arabs as having “hook noses” and “slanty eyes”. A mixed-race person is described as “coffee-coloured” while some people are called “half-caste”. The word “negroid” is also used.

Critics have pointed out that the book contains sexist attitudes towards women including one description that reads “a mega-titted six-footer”.

Book historian Dr Elizabeth Savage, a senior lecturer at the School of Advanced Studies, said of the book: “It’s horrific: racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and more.”

Mr Johnson wrote the book, about an MP who tries to foil a terrorist attack on the US President who is visiting Westminster, while he was the MP for Henley and editor of The Spectator magazine.

Read the full story on The i

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Something doesn’t add up

A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has accused both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn of failing to present a “properly credible prospectus” to the voters in their manifestos’ economic plans.

The thinktank judged that it was “highly likely” that a Tory government would end up spending more than implied by its manifesto – in other words, either taxes or borrowing would have to rise.

The Conservatives have promised to scrap a planned cut in corporation tax and channel the savings into hospitals, schools and other services, but have also insisted that rates of income tax, National Insurance and VAT will not be raised over the next five years.

Chancellor Sajid Javid did not comment on the IFS’s assessment of the Tory plans.

Meanwhile, the report claimed that Labour could not keep its promise to boost investment £55bn a year as the public sector does not have the capacity to “ramp up” that much that quickly.

It said it was “highly likely” that a Labour government would have to find other tax increases beyond those it has announced for big business and the better off if it was to raise the extra £83bn a year in revenue.

Mr Corbyn dismissed the thinktank’s findings, saying: “We are very confident that our manifesto can deliver improvements in the lifestyle and life chances of the poorest people in our country, and will not result in tax or national insurance increases for anyone earning less than £80,000 per year.”

Read Nigel Morris’s full analysis of the report on The i

Scottish Labour candidate suspended over alleged anti-Semitism

Scottish Labour has suspended Safia Ali – the party’s candidate in Falkirk – because of alleged anti-Semitic Facebook posts.

The party expressed “deep regret” that Ali had been selected as the candidate, but said that it had taken “immediate action” to suspend her after the posts emerged.

Michael Sharpe, the Scottish Labour general secretary said that while it was too late to remove Ms Ali’s name from ballot papers, the party had withdrawn its support for her.

“I deeply regret the people of the Falkirk constituency will no longer have a Labour candidate to campaign and vote for on 12 December,” Mr Sharpe said.

“There is no place for anti-Semitism, or any form of racism and bigotry, in our party. That is why Labour is taking robust action to root it out of our movement and wider society.”

The news comes just a day after the Scottish Conservatives suspended a candidate for alleged Islamophobic remarks.

Hot Take: Young Tories are not ‘Mini-Moggs’

“Young Conservatives are worried about the same issues that the Left has held court on for so long: climate change, the pressures on housing and the cost of living. But we often don’t hear about that.

We seem to see young people as somehow biologically predisposed to being socialist. But their enjoyment of the advances that capitalism has brought us – such as a free press, freedom of speech, advances in technology and Deliveroo to name just a few things– suggest otherwise.

Young Tories share with other people their age the same issue of finding it difficult to engage with politics, however.
That’s why earlier this year I set up ‘Blue Beyond’, earlier this year, a grassroots organisation aiming to engage young Conservative party members outside of SW1A .

The new group is the result of that feeling. It’s more radical, more diverse, more working-class, more Northern and more – dare I say – relatable than the stereotype of young people on the Right.

According to our internal data, with 36 per cent of members identifying as BAME, over a quarter qualifying for free school meals and over 50 per cent being the first in their family to go to university, the mini-Mogg Tory boy stereotype is far from representative.”

Read the rest of Robert Luke Black’s argument here