Good morning and welcome to another day on the stump. I’m Claire Phipps with your daily election rundown; sign up here to have it delivered piping hot to your inbox. Andrew Sparrow joins the live blog later.
Nobody puts Boris in a corner. After talk that the foreign secretary might be kept away from the election campaign with busywork on North Korea and Russia, Boris Johnson is back, with a speech about selling haggis to the US and a column in the Sun about “mutton-headed old mugwump” Jeremy Corbyn. Just when we thought we’d have to spend the next six weeks on Brexit and the NHS and “strong and stable leadership”.
Johnson’s more serious points – that the electorate can’t be entirely certain of Labour’s position on the nuclear threat or Isis – fade (as is surely the point) in the face of the sedulous insulting of Corbyn, who is “floundering”, “meandering”, “nonsensical” and an “Islingtonian herbivore”. Johnson is, of course, also an Islingtonian, but a carnivorous one, and so definitely not a hypocrite.
Boris Johnson: not courting the vegetarian vote. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA
Away from the mutton-slinging, local parties have been choosing more candidates. Runway runaway Zac Goldsmith – who resigned from the Conservatives when they backed Heathrow expansion, and lost the subsequent byelection to Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney – returns to stand in Richmond Park. For the Conservatives, who still back Heathrow expansion. With that 2016 London mayoral election loss already in the net, can he make it a Zac-trick?
Journalist-turned-politician Esther McVey will attempt to succeed politician-turned-journalist George Osborne for the Tories in Tatton. Labour has selected its successors for outgoing Alan Johnson and Michael Dugher: Emma Hardy will stand in Hull West and Hessle; Steph Peacock in Barnsley East. Ellie Reeves gets the nod in Lewisham West. But there’s discontent in Leigh, the Manchester Evening News reports, with constituency party chairman Peter Smith threatening to resign if Corbyn adviser Katy Clark is slotted into Andy Burnham’s empty chair.
Local parties are pushing back, too, against top-level rejection of a progressive alliance, with Lib Dems in Brighton Pavilion deciding not to field a candidate against incumbent Caroline Lucas – a move welcomed by the Green MP, and by Lib Dem party president Sal Brinton, who called it “constructive collaboration”.
Caroline Lucas: yes, Boris Johnson, another vegetarian. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA
The Greens will not run a candidate in Tory-held Brighton Kemptown, opening a door to Labour, a close second in 2015; nor in Ealing, currently held by Labour’s Rupa Huq.
In Northern Ireland, the prospect of an anti-Brexit progressive alliance seems to be foundering, with Sinn Féin rejecting an SDLP suggestion that candidates stand without party affiliation.
Will it all add up to much on 9 June? The Tories boast they will be targeting Labour MPs Tom Watson, Liz Kendall, Lilian Greenwood and Vernon Coaker in what would once have been thought of as comfortable – although not kick-your-shoes-off-and-chillax comfortable – seats. But Nottingham South MP Greenwood is battle bus-ready:
At a glance:
A new YouGov poll for the Times has Theresa May’s lead over Labour shrinking to just 16 points – I’ll leave you to argue on the merits of that “just”. But it’s a dip from 23 points last week.
EXC: Times / YouGov poll: Tory lead down to 16 points pic.twitter.com/Bd2pl9btv8
April 26, 2017 Sam Coates Times
The same poll also has 45% of those surveyed saying the UK was wrong to vote to leave the EU, against 43% who think it was the right decision, and 12% who just don’t know or can’t bring themselves to think about it for one more damned second, OK?
- Expect to see more of Boris Johnson in a round of interviews this morning.
- Theresa May meets business leaders in the Midlands, before a speech in Leeds this evening.
- Jeremy Corbyn heads to Harlow to talk housing.
- Tim Farron is in Cambridge – where the Lib Dems have their sights on capturing a remain seat from Labour.
- Mhairi Black leads today’s SNP charge, campaigning in Paisley.
A quirk of election campaigns is that amid the jibes and jostling and soundbites, we sometimes catch a glimpse of a policy. Labour’s focus today is housing, of the elusive affordable type, and Corbyn will be in Essex to highlight his party’s record on getting homes built. Between 2010 and 2016 Labour-run councils have built, on average, around 900 more new homes than Conservative authorities, Corbyn will say, announcing that his government would build a million new houses, half for council rent.
Wednesday NHS, Thursday housing. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA
The PM, meanwhile, could downgrade the pensions triple-lock to just the double, potentially freeing up cash to help with social care, an issue she has vowed to “stop ducking”.
David Aaronovitch in the Times says it’s time to put Tim Farron’s views on gay sex to bed:
Farron was elected leader and everyone forgot about his attitude towards sin. Then along came the election and back came the question and his first response was to dodge. I am not in the business, he said, of making ‘theological pronouncements’. In other words what he did or didn’t consider a sin belonged to a different and separate world to the world of politics. In effect he was arguing the theory of the Two Farrons …
People are messy and contradictory. Most of us are Two Farrons, or even more … But the essential question is not what this person might be thinking or feeling, but will they actually do harm or good? The more generous liberal impulse is the big tent versus the narrow path, the forum versus the flames. And we don’t need to burn St Tim.
In the Guardian, Ellie Mae O’Hagan argues that it shouldn’t take the prospect of an electoral upset to make the media pay attention to Wales:
While it’s good that the Westminster-obsessed press is finally talking about Wales, it is beyond infuriating that it needed Welsh voters turning to the Conservatives for it to happen. The fact is, many of the conditions for this perfect storm have been brewing for some time – but nobody was looking …
There is simply no logical reason why Welsh voters wouldn’t adopt the same voting patterns as Brexit voters in England. The myth that the Welsh electorate, which consumes basically the same media as the English, would somehow hold on to an inherent progressivism in the face of industrial decline was always absurd.
Politics Home has been doing a dogged job of logging all incumbent MPs and whether they’re staying to fight or stepping away. With the deadline still a fortnight away, most have now declared themselves in or out, but several have yet to commit – among them Theresa May in Maidenhead and Jeremy Corbyn in Islington North.
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