Brexit 5: Manifesto Mayhem

Boris keeps us waiting

The Conservative Party manifesto is set to be released this weekend with a promise to ‘Get Brexit Done’ by the end of January. Other pledges will include the recruiting of 6,000 extra GPs and deliverance of 50m more appointments a year by 2024-25 as part of a boost in funding for the NHS. The Party will also put an emphasis on law and order, with a commitment to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers. Additional pledges will include a promise to increase the threshold above which workers must pay national insurance to “lower taxes for working people”. But, as expected, the focal point of the Conservatives’ campaign has been a promise to deliver Brexit, as demonstrated during this week’s televised debate in which Boris spoke mainly of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Labour launches its ‘radical’ manifesto

Labour released their manifesto this week, taking the focus off Brexit and onto the party’s radical plans to overhaul the British economy and unleash a public spending boom fuelled by higher borrowing and tax hikes on corporations and the rich. The manifesto includes a number of policy pledges, including a pledge to build 150,000 new social homes a year by 2024, as well as an immediate pay raise for public sector workers, with year-on-year above-inflation pay rises to follow. If elected, Labour would rip up Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, negotiate a new one with the EU within three months, and then put the deal to a referendum within six months of coming to power. The referendum would not be advisory but “legally binding”.

Tories under fire

With the Labour Manifesto released a few days before that of their opposition, the Conservatives took an opportunity to damage the Labour campaign by setting up a fake Labour manifesto website as the election disinformation spree continues. The Conservatives paid Google to promote the website – a previously free domain – towards the top of its results for people searching for the opposition plan. The ‘new’ website features a picture of Jeremy Corbyn at the top and the headline “Labour’s 2019 manifesto”. This isn’t the first time the Tories have been strongly criticised for the spread of disinformation. Last month the party edited a video of the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, to misrepresent the Labour policy on Brexit.

Lib Dems against Brexit

The Lib Dems have launched their manifesto, with the slogan, “Stop Brexit, Build a Brighter Future”. The manifesto focuses mostly on Brexit and the NHS, underpinning their plans to increase public spending thanks to a £50bn “Remain bonus”. Elsewhere in their manifesto, the Lib Dems have pledged a penny income tax rise, promised 35 hours free childcare a week for all children aged two to four, set a target of generating 80% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and demonstrated its intention to recruit 20,000 more teachers. In an attempt to relate to the younger generation – a target demographic of the Lib Dem campaign – leader Jo Swinson even admitted she smoked cannabis at university and “enjoyed it”. Now, many are beginning to wonder which illegal substances Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn will admit to having taken in the run up to 12 December.

Bad news for business

Firms have suffered their worst month for more than three years as Brexit uncertainty risks pushing the economy into reverse, worrying new data showed on Friday. Leading economist Chris Williamson, said: “With an upcoming general election adding to Brexit-related uncertainty about the outlook, it’s no surprise to see UK businesses reporting falling output and orders.” Meanwhile, Dominic Raab has told businesses to “invest in innovation” to find solutions to skills shortages after the government pledged to make it harder for workers to come to the UK from abroad. The foreign secretary said the government would “plug gaps in specific areas” but suggested that businesses should find ways to operate with fewer staff.

The Whitehouse team are experts in the potential impact of Brexit, providing political consultancy and public affairs advice to a wide range of clients, not only in the United Kingdom, but also across the member states of the European Union. More information about our Brexit experience can be found here, or, if you have any questions, please contact our Chair, Chris Whitehouse, at