Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn Face Off In First Election Debate

A combination of pictures shows Britain’s Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson (R) and Britain’s main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (L) giving speeches during their general election campaigns. Britain will go to the polls on December 12, 2019 to vote in a pre-Christmas general election. PHOTO: Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Britain’s Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn go head-to-head on Tuesday in their first TV debate of the election campaign, facing scrutiny over their plans for Brexit and more public spending.

Johnson, who took over as the leader of the governing Conservatives in July, has held a double-digit lead over Labour in opinion polls for weeks, making the December 12 election his to lose.

Corbyn meanwhile is seeking to repeat the success of the last election in 2017, when his promise to end austerity and deliver change “for the many, not the few” fired up voters and denied the Tories an outright win.

The two men have sparred only a handful of times in parliament, making the prime-time debate, broadcast on ITV television at 8:00 pm (2000 GMT), a rare opportunity to see how they engage up close.

Brexit vs inequality

Johnson fired the starting gun with a letter to Corbyn overnight questioning his plans for Britain’s looming departure from the European Union.

The Conservatives are campaigning on a pledge to “get Brexit done”, promising to end years of political disagreements and several delays by leaving the EU on January 31.

Corbyn says he will renegotiate Johnson’s exit deal and hold another referendum, appealing to around half of Britons who still oppose the result of the 2016 Brexit vote.

But the Labour leader has yet to say how he would campaign in that referendum, and Johnson warned in his letter that he offered only more “dither and delay”.

On a visit to a boxing gym near the northwestern city of Manchester on Tuesday, the premier sparred in the ring wearing gloves emblazoned with the words “Get Brexit Done” and said he was “excited” about the fight with Corbyn.

“Parliament is blocking Brexit, we need to get Brexit done so we can take forward our agenda for the whole country,” he told ITV television.

Labour meanwhile has sought to shift attention to inequality and the impact of a decade of Conservative spending cuts, promising a swathe of nationalisations and huge investment in public services.

Finance spokesman John McDonnell on Tuesday attacked the “obscene” disparities in workers’ pay and unveiled plans for a new ratio of 20:1 between the top and lowest earners in public sector firms.

He also announced proposals to transfer shares from large companies into an employee fund, and to break the hold of the “Big Four” major accountancy firms.

“We know whose side Boris Johnson is on — the billionaires, the bankers and big business,” he said.

Johnson warns that Labour would cripple the economy, although he has also promised more money for hospitals, schools and police, as well as infrastructure including broadband.

Small parties excluded

Johnson and Corbyn will answer questions submitted by viewers in front of a live audience, a format that had been challenged by smaller parties.

The Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats went to court to protest their exclusion from the debate, but High Court judges rejected their case on Monday.

Although the next prime minister is almost certainly going to be either Johnson or Corbyn, the role of smaller parties could be crucial.

The Conservatives failed to win a majority of MPs in 2017, forcing them to agree an alliance with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Their arrangement collapsed over rows over Brexit, leaving Johnson without the support he needed to get his EU exit deal ratified by parliament.

This time, he has faced a challenge from Nigel Farage’s hardline Brexit Party, although it has agreed not to field candidates in Tory-held seats.

Labour is languishing so far behind the Conservatives that polling expert John Curtice, from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, has suggested it has almost zero chance of winning a majority.

But he noted Corbyn could still take power at the head of a loose coalition involving the SNP and Lib Dems, both of whom strongly oppose Brexit.

AFP

More Republican Bigwigs Sever Ties With Trump

Donald Trump, US, Women
Mr. Trump insists he wont quit the race despite the backlash

A handful of top Republicans have shifted ground in their support for US presidential candidate Donald Trump after his remarks about women became public last week.

Since the comments became public, more than 12 Republican bigwigs have announced that they would not be voting for Mr Trump in November.

Mr Trump, who has apologized over his comments, however insists he will go ahead with his campaign, as he lashes out to some Republicans who advised him to withdraw from the race.

In the tape from 2005, Mr Trump is reportedly heard bragging about groping and kissing women.

Former Republican presidential candidate John McCain and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are the latest of such Republicans to withdraw their support.

Rice, Condoleeza, US, America, Elections, Republican, Party
Condoleezza Rice says it is enough from Trump, asking him to drop out of the race

Mr McCain said such comments “make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his (Trump) candidacy.”

While Ms Rice said: “Enough! Donald Trump should not be President. He should withdraw.”

The Republican Senator from New Hampshire, Senator Kelly Ayotte, in a statement she released after Mr Trump’s comments were published said, “I cannot and will not support a candidate for president who brags about degrading and assaulting women.”

The Senator however says she won’t vote for Hilary Clinton either.

The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Paul Ryan who was initially supposed to host Mr Trump at a campaign event in Wisconsin this weekend, withdrew the invitation, saying he is “sickened” by what he heard.

The second TV debate between Mr Trump and Mrs Clinton will take place on Sunday evening (October 9) in St Louis.