Closed Election: Johnson hosts world leaders at Nato summit — as it happened

Nato Leaders Meeting

Live coverage of the UK election campaign.


Welcome

Fireworks in London today? Boris Johnson has backed a UK digital sales tax in a move that could spark the ire of Donald Trump, who is in London for the Nato summit. Mr Trump lashed out at France over a similar measure that the US president says will hurt big US tech groups like Google-parent Alphabet.

We’re just eight days from the election now, so both campaigns are on the lookout for any exogenous shocks that could shake things up in a way they can’t control.


Trump and tech tax on the agenda

Donald Trump is in town, and the president’s free-wheeling press conferences offer the near constant threat of upending the election campaign.

So far though, Mr Trump has been on his best behaviour – he told reporters yesterday he had “no thoughts” on the election and could work with anybody.

But will he be able to resist weighing in on the UK’s plans for a new digital tax?

Boris Johnson has risked escalating a European trade war with Mr Trump by vowing to push ahead with a British digital sales tax, hours after the US administration threatened to punish France for imposing a similar measure.

The prime minister’s comments came ahead of a Nato summit that he will attend with his American counterpart on Wednesday near London as tensions rose over new European tech levies. Mr Trump has claimed they unfairly discriminate against US companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook.

You can read the full details in this report from George Parker and Chris Giles in London and James Politi in Washington.


Where is the prime minister?

How long can Boris Johnson avoid Donald Trump for?

The two leaders were pictured together last night as part of a class photo of all the Nato leaders and members of the British Royal Family, but the British prime minister is desperate to avoid handing the Labour party a PR-freebie by associating too closely with the president who is deeply unpopular in the UK.

As the FT’s Henry Mance noted, while Mr Trump advanced on London yesterday, Mr Johnson fled to Salisbury, 78 miles away.

With eight days to go before the general election, the last thing Mr Johnson needs is to be near Mr Trump, a man with higher disapproval ratings in the UK than Vladimir Putin, Jean-Claude Juncker and even Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn.

Update: Messrs Johnson and Trump met in unscheduled, off-camera talks in Downing Street last night, the BBC reported.


‘His team’s jaws drop to the floor’

One way to risk a rise out of Donald Trump is to be filmed apparently joking about the US president behind his back.

Footage has emerged of Nato leaders including prime minister Boris Johnson, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and France’s Emmanual Macron having an animated discussion at Buckingham Palace last night.

“Is that why you were late?” Mr Johnson asked Mr Macron, before Mr Trudeau interjects: “He was late because he takes a 40 minute press conference off the top.” Mr Macron’s reply is inaudible. 

After a cut in the video, Mr Trudeau adds: “You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor.”

The snippet of footage does not reveal who the leaders were talking about, but the US president engaged in several long press conferences yesterday. 

The edited video was posted by Canadian broadcaster CBC.


Emoticon Sterling rises to seven-month high

The pound has risen to its highest level since May against both the dollar and euro this morning, notching a second day of strong gains as traders bank on a Conservative victory in the general election.

Sterling was recently 0.5 per cent higher at $1.3050, and has gained nearly one per cent this week.

“As we write, the election is Boris Johnson’s to lose,” said Dean Turner, an economist at UBS Wealth Management.

The market is continuing to cut back on sterling short positions and hedges in anticipation of a Tory victory, said Neil Jones, head of FX sales for financial institutions at Mizuho Bank.


Trump touches down for Nato summit

Away from the campaign trail, today’s big event is the Nato summit being held just outside Watford.

World leaders have begun arriving at the venue in Hertfordshire, with Marine One, Donald Trump’s helicopter, landing moments ago to deliver the US president to the meeting.

Arriving earlier this morning, prime minister Boris Johnson called for unity in the 70-year old military alliance after leaders yesterday traded barbs.

At the heart of it is a pledge that we will come to one another’s defense. All for one and one for all.


Has Corbyn’s advance stalled?

Sterling is having a strong week, with markets viewing a healthy Tory majority as the best outcome for UK risk assets, at least in the short term.

So what’s going on? The most obvious place to look is the latest polling.

While Labour has begun to close the gap in opinion polls, the lead is still 10 percentage points with just over one week to go until polling day, according to the FT’s poll of polls.

Critically, a number of recent polls have shown that Jeremy Corbyn’s advance has stalled. 

A YouGov poll released last night showed both the Tories and Labour down one point at 42 per cent and 33 per cent respectively. An earlier Kantar poll had the Conservatives increasing their lead by one percentage point to 12 points. 

Mr Corbyn needs much stronger momentum into polling day than this in order to get the polls into hung parliament territory.

One health warning, though: the polls have been wrong before, while the FT’s data team think projecting the number of seats for each party by assuming a “uniform national swing” may not work as well as it used to when there were only two large parties and little variation in voter behaviour in different parts of the country.


Trump ‘enjoyed’ meeting with Johnson

As world leaders gather outside London for today’s Nato summit, one thing Conservative headquarters had been anxious to avoid was a public meeting between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump.

Mr Trump is highly unpopular in the UK and Mr Johnson’s advisers reckon any association with the US president can only tarnish his brand.

But meet they did last night, for unscheduled off-camera talks.

Arriving at the Nato summit this morning, Mr Johnson said the pair had a “very good meeting”.

We had a very good meeting and we discussed as you can imagine the future of Nato, we discussed what’s going on in Syria and various other military matters.

And as if to hammer the point home, Mr Trump tweeted this a few minutes ago:


Trump and Johnson meet at Nato summit

Nato leaders have held a group photo before beginning their summit. 

Boris Johnson shook hands with President Trump, who held up proceedings for several minutes after arriving late. 

An aide told Mr Johnson that there would be a delay before the president arrived, which “perturbed” the prime minister, according to the White House pool report:

A perturbed Johnson asked how long it would take, and then gestured to the wall of cameras, saying “we’re live now.”

“A half an hour? 45 minutes?” Johnson joked.

The aide left and then emerged a couple of minutes later.

“How are we doing?” Johnson asked. “Come on!” 

Mr Trump eventually arrived and joined the photo. 


Johnson: ‘Peace cannot be taken for granted’

The prime minister used his opening address at the Nato summit to brandish the UK’s military credentials and urge members of the alliance to work together in spite of their differences.

Boris Johnson said the UK “could not flourish without the peace Nato is designed to guarantee” before outlining the country’s leading role in the alliance:

For the UK’s part, we spend over 2 per cent of GDP on defence. We are proud to be making the biggest contribution of any European ally to Nato’s readiness initiative by offering an armoured brigade, two fighter squadrons and six warships, including the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers.

“History shows peace cannot be taken for granted,” he said. “And even as we celebrate this anniversary we must ensure our deeds match our words.”

Mr Johnson called on fellow member states to “strengthen the unity of purpose” that he said had “made Nato the greatest and most successful alliance in history” and to “take the new steps that are profoundly necessary to ensure another 70 years of peace and security”.

Cameras were then cleared out of the conference chamber as the leaders get down to business in what is likely be a tense set of proceedings.


EU prepares for talks with post-Brexit Britain

The FT’s Jim Brunsden reports from Brussels:

The UK election campaign may still be in full swing, but the EU has already moved on to planning for life after Brexit.

EU leaders are set to adopt conclusions next week setting out their stance on future relationship talks with the UK.

The five-paragraph text, seen by the FT, emphasises the need for speed, with the clock ticking down to the end of Britain’s post-Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020.

It calls on the European Commission to present a “draft comprehensive mandate” for a future relationship deal with post-Brexit Britain “immediately” after the UK exits the EU. Governments commit to “swiftly” adopt it, allowing talks with the UK to get underway.

“Negotiations should be organised in a way that makes the best possible use of the limited time available for negotiation and ratification by the end of the transition,” say the draft conclusions.

Under Boris Johnson’s exit deal with the EU, the centrepiece of the future relationship talks will be negotiation of an EU-UK free-trade agreement. But senior EU diplomats have made clear that all future relationship issues will be linked — meaning, for example, that Britain will not be able to secure the trade deal unless it provides enough access to its waters for EU fishermen.

The draft conclusions also stress the importance of unity on the EU side, saying negotiations with Britain “will continue to take place in a coherent manner and in a spirit of unity and transparency with all Member States”.

National ambassadors will discuss the draft text at a meeting in Brussels this afternoon.

European Council (Art. 50) — Draft conclusions

To view the full document, click here.


Why sterling is backing Boris Johnson…for now

Sterling is holding on to its two-day gains of around 1 per cent against the US dollar, as investor confidence in a Conservative victory grows.

The change in sentiment in the sprawling foreign exchange market towards Boris Johnson has been remarkable.

As recently as the late summer, sterling used to cheer the prime minister’s every setback. But since Mr Johnson negotiated a surprise exit deal with the EU, investors have swung round to back his Brexit plan.

Put simply, traders have grasped the chance for some much-needed stability, once a no-deal crash out was largely off the table.

Adam Seagrave, head of global sales trading at Saxo Markets, said:

FX traders will now ponder which way the risks are skewed as we run into election week with a feeling among some that the easy money has been made and with sterling well above the August lows, the risk to the downside is substantially higher.

Given Mr Johnson’s pledge not to extend the EU free trade negotiations past the end of next year, many investors and analysts have warned that any ‘Johnson bounce’ could be short lived as Brexit risks return.

“We suspect more notable sustained gains will prove difficult,” Lee Hardman, currency strategist at Japan’s MUFG said in a note to clients earlier this week.


Extinction Rebellion make a beeline for Swinson’s bus

A rabble of human-sized bees have targeted the bus of Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson in Streatham, south London, this morning.

Environmental activists from the group Extinction Rebellion dressed in yellow and black costumes stuck themselves to the bus in their latest demonstration.

“We need a new form of democracy. We want climate action now,” they shouted.

Police cordoned off the area while Ms Swinson attempted to negotiate with the bees.

The bus is electric.


McDonnell says Tory policies have cost families £6,000 a year

Labour’s John McDonnell has been speaking in Birmingham, where he hit out at years of austerity under successive Conservative governments.

The shadow chancellor said new Labour research shows families have hit been to the tune of almost £6,000 a year since 2010.

Speaking at the launch of Labour’s new report on the cost of living, Mr McDonnell pinned the rising costs on “profiteering through privatisation and the Conservatives’ failure to curb rising bills”.

He vowed that a Labour government would bring down living costs through nationalising energy, water and rail services, implementing a new living wage and extending universal basic services.

In the Labour party, let’s make it absolutely clear, we dont think its enough to offer people a hand out or a hand up out of poverty. We want once and for all to abolish poverty within our society.


Stats watchdog questions Labour’s use of crime figures

The head of the UK Statistics Authority has written to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn criticising his use of violent crime statistics in a speech.

At the Labour party manifesto launch, Mr Corbyn said that “violent crime has doubled under the Conservatives austerity programme”.

However, Sir David Norgrove, chair of the UKSA, wrote that the Crime Survey shows little change in overall crime in recent years.

“As the crime bulletins from the Office for National Statistics makes clear, the best measure of trends in overall violent crime is the Crime Survey of England and Wales, which is not affected by changes in recording practices and police activity,” wrote Sir David, who chairs the non-ministerial government department responsible for oversight of official national statistics.

In 2017, the statistics watchdog reprimanded Boris Johnson for falsely claiming the country would “take back control of roughly £350m per week” after Brexit.

Sir David said he was “disappointed” the foreign secretary had revived Vote Leave’s false pledge of £350m a week extra for the NHS.

To read the letter in full, click here.


Mapping inequality in the UK

In this video, the FT’s Head of Visual and Data Journalism Alan Smith looks at the most unequal parts of the UK and how social researcher and reformer Charles Booth’s 19th century maps of poverty are being updated for the 21st century.

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The problems with holding a winter election

Britons will be going to the polls in the month of December for the first time since 1923.

Could the weather play a part?

Chris Tighe, north east England correspondent for the FT, reports:

High pressure, with lots of bluster and wind and an icy chill setting in next week – it could be the UK 2019 general election but in fact it’s BBC weatherman Stav Danaos giving his forecast for the next seven days.

After a mild few days ahead – this bit is definitely not an election campaign forecast – the jet stream will shift south and, according to Mr Danaos, cold air will push across our shores, making next week “much more wintery”.

Chilly Northern winds are setting in – attention Labour Party – with an increasing chance of severe night time frosts and some snow showers.

Detailed weather forecasts suggest parts of Eastern Scotland, such as Edinburgh, may have sleet from Tuesday onwards; in England, eastern areas could have sleet showers on election day but more southerly and westerly areas, on current forecasts, may not. At this stage, deep snow does not look to be a prospect.

Which parties have the more weather-dependent voters has long been a subject of debate. But postal voting, an increasing trend, makes election day weather less of an issue.

In the 2017 general election, 8.4m voters had postal votes, 18 per cent of the voter base. Among Scottish voters the proportion was higher at 19.4 per cent – showing useful foresight as Scotland is set to have the most sleet and snow next week.


Trump cancels post-summit press conference

In news likely to be welcomed by Conservative high command, Donald Trump has indicated he will not be holding a post-summit press conference.

There had been plans for the US president to speak to reporters later this afternoon before his departure from London. That would have provided him with an opportunity to comment further on the UK election, something Boris Johnson’s advisers have been keen to avoid.

But speaking just now ahead of a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Trump said his only other engagements this afternoon would be a meeting “with the 2 per cent people” — those Nato members paying the 2 per cent of GDP Mr Trump has been pushing for — and a meeting with the Danish premier, before heading “directly back to Washington”.

I think we’ve done plenty of press conferences. Unless you’re demanding a press conference – we’ll do one. But I think we’ve answered plenty of questions.

Mr Trump has indeed spent much of the last two days hosting lengthy press conferences, something Justin Trudeau seemed to mock in comments picked up at a reception last night.

Responding to the remarks made by his Canadian counterpart, which have been widely circulated online, Mr Trump labelled Mr Trudeau “two-faced”.

He’s two faced. And honestly with Trudeau, he’s a nice guy. I find him to be a very nice guy. But the truth is I called him out on the fact he’s not paying two per cent I guess he wasn’t happy about it.


SDLP and UUP tie off manifesto launch season

Northern Ireland’s moderate unionist and nationalist parties – the Ulster Unionist party and Social Democratic and Labour party – today set out their election platforms, completing weeks of manifesto launches by parties across the UK vying for votes ahead of next week’s election.

The two parties hope to make inroads after being wiped out in the last election by their more extreme unionist and nationalist rivals – the Democratic Unionist party and Sinn Féin.

Steve Aiken, leader of the UUP, said voters must be given an alternative to the DUP, whose 10 MPs have helped to prop up the Conservative government since 2017.

Mr Aiken described Boris Johnson’s proposed Brexit deal as “totally disastrous for Northern Ireland” at the official launch at the Stormont Hotel in Belfast.

Meanwhile in Derry/Londonderry, the SDLP leader Colum Eastwood launched the party’s 29-page manifesto entitled “Stop Boris – Stop Brexit”.

The party aims to displace the Sinn Féin candidate in Foyle after it gained the seat for the first time in the last election.

Click here to read the UUP manifesto in full.

Click here to read the SDLP manifesto in full.


Johnson dodges opportunity to praise Trump

Boris Johnson is speaking now at a post-summit press conference.

Asked by a reporter if he would describe the American president as “good for the West and good for Britain”, the prime minister avoided providing a response.

Instead he spoke about the role of the US as a “pillar of stability for our collective security” and praised the country for standing “shoulder to shoulder” with the UK against Russia in the wake of the Salisbury attack.

When pressed, he said this was done “under the current administration” but completely avoided using the US president’s name.


Trump the core focus of Johnson press conference

Donald Trump may have decided against holding his own post-summit press conference, but he was something of a constant presence in the one just given by Boris Johnson.

The British prime minister was pressed on his relationship with the US president and various requests from Washington, which he broadly sought to deflect.

Questioned over a video that appeared to show him and other leaders joking about Mr Trump’s affinity for lengthy press conferences, Mr Johnson maintained he had no knowledge of it. “I really don’t know what is being referred to there,” he said.

Mr Trump has been pushing his British counterpart on two key issues lately: for the UK to bring more IS fighters back to the country and for it to ban China’s Huawei from taking a role in its 5G communications infrastructure.

On the first of these, Mr Johnson speaking just now said that fighters going to Syria put themselves “beyond UK law”.

On the latter, Mr Trump had said earlier all leaders he had spoken to had agreed to keep Huawei out. But Mr Johnson said the UK would tread a line between being “unncessarily hostile to investment from overseas” and protecting national security.

He was also pushed on the issue of a European digital tax on US tech companies, something that has provoked the ire of the US president. Mr Johnson, who backs the tax, insisted the groups were “not paying much tax in proportion to the huge sales they make in this country” said conversations were ongoing with the US over it.

And finally — and unsurprisingly — the NHS came up, and the question of whether it would be on the table in any potential US-UK trade deal. This clearly irritated Mr Johnson. He said:

I think I might just wind up this press conference now because we are beginning to scrape the barrel.


Emoticon M&G suspends £2.5bn property fund on Brexit and retail woes

Fund manager M&G has suspended trading in its £2.5bn Property Portfolio, which is marketed to retail investors, after facing “unusually high and sustained outflows” it blamed on Brexit and the retail downturn, writes the FT’s property correspondent Judith Evans.

The fund is the first major open-ended property fund to prevent redemptions in this way since the crisis in the sector that caused seven funds to “gate” in 2016 following the Brexit referendum — one of the most high-profile market consequences of the vote to leave the EU.

M&G, a London-listed asset manager, said the pressure of outflows had exceeded the speed at which it can sell properties, leading it to suspend any redemption requests arriving after midday on Wednesday.

You can read more on this story here.


Ex Labour minister backs Tories over anti-semitism

Writes Laura Hughes, FT political correspondent:

A former Labour minister has urged voters to back the Conservative party in next week’s election.

Ivan Lewis, who is standing as an independent candidate in Bury South, called on voters to get behind his rival Tory candidate.

He left the Labour party last year, citing leader Jeremy Corbyn’s “anti-Western world view” and stance on Israel.

Mr Lewis has been suspended from the party since November 2017 following allegations of sexual harassment.

In a statement on Wednesday, he said:

It has been a tremendous honour to represent my hometown for the past 22 years.

In this election, I have spoken to many Bury South voters who have told me the priority for our local community and country is to stop Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.

As the independent candidate, I am grateful for the support I have received but it is now clear that the best way to stop Corbyn in Bury South is to vote Conservative and support their candidate Christian Wakeford.

So today, I’m asking the thousands of voters in Bury South who don’t think Corbyn is fit to be prime minister to vote Conservative.

Many will be voting Conservative for the first time and it will require much soul searching. But it is the right thing to do.


In 2006 Johnson wrote children of working mothers ‘more likely to become hoodies’

Laura Hughes, FT political correspondent:

Boris Johnson once claimed that the children of working mothers on lower incomes were “unloved and undisciplined” and “more likely to become hoodies, Neets, and mug you on the street corner”.

The comments appear in a 2006 collection of journalism, entitled ‘Have I Got Views for You’, which has been uncovered by the Guardian newspaper.

“In the last 30 years an ever-growing proportion of British women have been ‘incentivised’ or socially gestapoed into the workplace, on what seems to me to be the dubious assumption that the harder a woman works the happier she will be, when I am not sure that is true of women or anyone else,” Mr Johnson wrote.

On the topic of “assortative mating” among university graduates, which economists refer to as a system under which people marry people like themselves, he wrote:

The result is that in families on lower incomes the women have absolutely no choice but to work, often with adverse consequences for family life and society as a whole – in that unloved and undisciplined children are more likely to become hoodies, Neets [not in education, employment or training] and mug you on the street corner.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, responded:

It is obvious that Boris Johnson has nothing but contempt for women and working class people.

For him to speak about us in such a disgusting manner shows just how out of touch he is. It is clear he only ever stands up for the privileged few.


Barbs traded, but Nato summit ends without major fallout

It may be only 8 days from the election. But front and centre on the news agenda today was the Nato summit being held just outside London. The meeting has now wound up and some leaders are holding bilateral talks, while others are heading home.

The summit marked 70 years of the military alliance and leaders cycled through discussions on issues ranging from Russia and cyber security to China weaponizing space.

But how successful was it?

The talks came against at tense backdrop. Donald Trump called Emmanuel Macron “nasty” for his assertion that Nato was “brain dead”. Justin Trudeau was overheard seemingly mocking the US president for his proclivity for holding lengthy press conferences. Mr Trump labelled him “two-faced” and appeared to cancel a post-summit audience with reporters as a result.

Nonetheless, both the UK prime minister and US president were positive in their post conference comments.

For Mr Trump it was all about money. Mr Trump is adamant countries should live up to commitments to spend at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence. And on this front he said he was pleased with progress.

Defence investment by member states has now been on the up for five years. There has been an increase of $130bn being spent since 2014. And countries have committed to ramping this up to a total increase of $400bn by 2024.

I think Nato is stronger than it’s ever been. A lot more money is being produced by a lot of countries.

Boris Johnson described the talks as “extremely practical and extremely harmonious”.

But from the prime minister’s point of view, the true measure of success was whether his US counterpart said anything to scupper his electoral chances. And on this front Mr Trump, for the most part, obliged.


Bee protesters swarm Brexit party office in Grimsby

Protesters dressed as bees have broken into Brexit Party headquarters in Grimsby, north-east England, in the second climate-change-motivated stunt of the day.

Several activists entered the office before laying on their backs and “buzzing” to raise awareness of biodiversity loss, which has led to the extinction of 17 bees species in the UK, according to WWF.

Grimsby’s parliamentary candidate Christopher Barker tweeted: “There’s intelligent politics, with grown-ups, who debate real ideas to further our society. Then there’s the politics of the kindergarten. Usually silent — because they don’t have ideas.”

The demonstration, organised by the group Bee-yond politics, echoed that of campaign group Extinction Rebellion, in London, earlier in the day in which they stormed the election “battle bus” of Jo Swinson. The antic backfired as the bus was electric and, therefore, considered a more environmentally friendly form of transport.

A number of Brexit party members have been linked with a history of climate denial or opposition to climate-friendly policies.

According to analysis by environmental website DeSmog, six candidates have been affiliated with Spiked, an anti-environmental media outlet which grew out of the now-defunct Revolutionary Communist Party, with links to the oil billionaire Koch family.

The Brexit party has pledged to plant millions of trees to help soak up C02 emissions in its manifesto.

According to the report ‘Bees Under Siege’ by WWF, 25 types of bees are currently under threat in Britain.


Cummings makes surprise appearance at Nato summit

Dominic Cummings, formerly a key adviser to Boris Johnson, was seen at the prime minister’s press conference at today’s Nato summit, standing alongside Downing Street communications director Lee Cain.

His appearance is surprising, writes James Blitz, the FT’s Whitehall editor.

Before the election was called, he was a special adviser to the prime minister with a formal government role.

Once parliament is dissolved, however, Whitehall rules dictate that special advisers can no longer attend official government events and are restricted to working as party officials on campaign business.


Why are the Lib Dems going nowhere?

This election should have been a gift for Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats, but it is turning out dismally, writes FT Whitehall editor James Blitz.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are extreme and polarising figures, to a degree rarely seen in UK politics. This election should therefore have been a gift for the Lib Dems, a moderate centre-ground party committed to keeping Britain in the EU.

Instead the Lib Dems look stuck. The party may yet overturn some hefty Tory majorities in southern England such as Dominic Raab’s seat in Esher and Walton. But overall it is still flatlining on 13 per cent of the vote — and may be squeezed further by Labour in the final days of the campaign.

What’s gone wrong? Looking back, Ms Swinson’s party has made three mistakes.

First, the Lib Dems’ pledge to revoke Article 50 if they win a Commons majority has backfired. To many voters, the revoke pledge still looks like an undemocratic reversal of the referendum and runs up against the British sense of fair play.

Second, it’s a mistake for the Lib Dems to be running a presidential campaign around Ms Swinson, confidently presenting her as a candidate for prime minister. Although she has been in politics for years, she is still relatively unknown to voters, making her look somewhat unblooded for Number 10.

Also, by focusing so strongly on her, the party has underplayed one of its biggest assets — its impressive and diverse front bench with figures such as Chuka Umunna, Sarah Wollaston and Sam Gyimah.

Third, voters are unclear what the Lib Dems would do in a hung parliament. Ms Swinson is adamant that she will not support either Mr Johnson or Mr Corbyn.

But those who fear Mr Corbyn worry that the Lib Dems might help him into Number 10 by backing a Labour-led coalition. Affluent voters in Conservative-Lib Dem marginals therefore wonder whether it might be better to hold their noses and vote Conservative — fearing what a Labour government would do to their finances. 

For more on this, check out James’s Brexit Briefing newsletter here


Today’s election highlights

• The pound rose to a seven-month high against both the dollar and euro, notching a second day of strong gains as traders bank on a Conservative victory in the general election.

• Boris Johnson continued to steer clear of Donald Trump, whose disapproval ratings in Britain are higher than Vladimir Putin and Jean-Claude Juncker.

• Footage emerged of Nato leaders including prime minister Mr Johnson, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and France’s Emmanual Macron joking about Mr Trump’s affinity for lengthy press conferences.

• In the polls the Tories maintained their overnight lead of 10 percentage points.

• The head of the UK Statistics Authority criticised Jeremy Corbyn for his misuse of violent crime statistics in a speech.

• Labour’s John McDonnell hit out at years of austerity under successive Conservative governments, at the launch of the party’s cost of living report.

• Former Labour minister Ivan Lewis, who is standing as an independent candidate in Bury South, urged voters to back the Conservative party in next week’s election.

• A 2006 article by Mr Johnson emerged in which he referred to children of working mothers as being “more likely to become hoodies”.

• Dominic Cummings, formerly a key adviser to Mr Johnson, was seen at a press conference at the Nato summit, standing alongside Downing Street communications director Lee Cain.

• Extinction Rebellion activists, dressed as bees, targeted the bus of Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson in Streatham to raise awareness about climate change.


That’s it for now

And that is where we will leave it for this evening.

Tomorrow marks exactly one week until polling day. And with the Nato summit out of the way, all parties will be redoubling efforts to get out in front of the public and secure votes.

We’ll be back first thing tomorrow. Same time, same place.

See you then.