Closed Election: Brexit party MEPs defect and back Conservative party — as it happened


Live coverage of the UK election campaign.

Welcome back

Good morning, welcome back to the FT’s coverage of the UK general election.

It is already looking like another good day for the pound, which has risen more than 1.5 per cent this week as traders bet on a Conservative victory.

We will have the latest coverage and analysis from the FT’s team of reporters and editors through the day.

Sterling marches higher

In a week’s time Britons will go to the polls, but many investors seem to have made their mind up about this election.

Sterling has surged this week, and was recently up another 0.3 per cent against the US dollar to touch $1.34. The currency was up 0.2 per cent against the euro, where it has hit 31-month highs.

A Tory victory is seen as market friendly in the short-term as it would guarantee an orderly withdrawal from the EU.

Here’s Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid with the market’s logic:

Sterling has been supported by investor hopes that a Conservative majority at the election will support a smooth ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament, taking away some of the short-term uncertainty over the Brexit process.

As this chart from the FT’s Mike Mackenzie neatly illustrates, the relationship between a firmer pound and better polls for the Conservatives is clear. Sign up for Mike’s Market Forces note here, for more where that came from.

Are investors setting themselves up for a fall?

A hung parliament is still within the margin of error of many opinion polls, meaning investors have some tricky short-term calls to make on the various possible election results.

Traders have trimmed their negative bets on sterling during the campaign, and the currency has risen on every positive sign for Boris Johnson.

But Mr Johnson has pledged not to extend the Brexit transition period beyond next year, leaving a short window to negotiate a free trade deal and avoid a new cliff-edge for markets.

After an initial bounce, attention would shift towards the tight timetable for a trade agreement “very, very quickly,” said Willem Klijnstra, currency analyst at Legal & General Investment Management, which has been neutral on sterling since September. “If we do get a Conservative win then we are straight back to Brexit.”

I have been looking at the various scenarios investors will face as the results pour in on election night. You can read that piece here.

Boris Johnson aims for vote on Brexit before Christmas

Boris Johnson has outlined his agenda for the first 100 days of a Conservative government if he wins on December 12:

Emoticon Executing Brexit by January 31
Emoticon A February Budget to implement tax cuts
Emoticon A repeal of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act

The prime minister — whose election slogan is “Get Brexit done” — pledged that legislation to implement his EU withdrawal agreement will be put back before parliament ahead of Christmas, as he aims to take the UK out of the bloc by January 31.

However, John Bercow, the former House of Commons Speaker, said the idea Mr Johnson could complete Brexit quickly was “utter nonsense”.

You can read more on Mr Johnson’s plans from Sebastian Payne and James Blitz here.

‘No rhyme or reason needed’

Sterling’s rise today, which started just as London dealings kicked off but appeared to come without a particular impetus, has come as some traders who made bearish bets on the currency are throwing in the towel, one high-profile analyst has speculated.

Kit Juckes of Société Générale said on Twitter:

Sterling’s going up again this morning, to the the sound of shorts capitulating. No rhyme or reason needed.

The pound has jumped 1.5 per cent against the US dollar over the past three trading days in its best run since October. Analysts have broadly cited polling data that have steadily pointed to a 10-percentage point lead for the Tories, on the aggregate. The thinking goes if Boris Johnson is able to secure a majority, it will help alleviate Brexit uncertainty … at least in the short run.

Javid has ‘not a single doubt’ UK can swiftly secure EU trade deal

The FT’s Laura Hughes reports:

Chancellor Sajid Javid has told the BBC’s Today programme he believes a new Tory government would secure an “ambitious, deep, comprehensive, free-trade agreement” with the EU after Brexit.

Mr Javid said there is “not a single doubt in my mind it can be agreed within months”, adding that it was unlikely the UK would leave the EU without having secured a deal.

“I am confident that we will get a deal done”, he said. “I think [leaving without a deal] is extremely remote.”

Boris Johnson has insisted he can complete the first stage of Brexit by the end of January and would then negotiate a trade deal with the EU by the end of a transition period that ends next year.

However, there are concerns that no significant trade deal has been ratified in such a short space of time.

Pound tests key resistance level

Sterling has been the best performing major currency this week, racking up strong gains as polls suggest Boris Johnson is on course for victory next Thursday night.

Fritz Louw, a currency analyst at Japanese bank MUFG, said the currency has moved decisively out of its trading range as it has broken through key technical support levels.

Mr Louw noted that the pound is now above its 200-week moving average against the dollar.

It could prove a key long-term pivot point for the pound against the dollar as it has not closed above on a sustained weekly basis since the autumn of 2014.

Swinson hints at backing Labour in hung parliament if Corbyn goes

The prime minister is still heroically trying to find space in his diary to sit down for an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil.

But last night Jo Swinson, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, was brave enough to take part. The FT’s Laura Hughes has picked out the key news lines:

Ms Swinson suggested for the first time that she could work with the Labour party to stop Brexit if it removed Jeremy Corbyn as leader in the event of a hung parliament.

The leader of Britain’s third party repeated her pledge not to use her party’s votes to put either Mr Corbyn or Tory leader Boris Johnson in Downing Street if neither wins a majority in the House of Commons.

But, pushed on whether she would abstain or vote for a minority Labour government’s agenda, in order to secure a second Brexit vote, she replied:

Look, to be honest, if Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn don’t win a majority at this election then there’s no guarantee that they’re still going to be the ones that are leading their parties a week afterwards, right?

So Liberal Democrats will work to stop Brexit, we will support legislation that puts in place a people’s vote and we will work across parties.

More from the interview in Laura’s full piece.

Emoticon Four Brexit party MEPs abandon party

Four of the Brexit party’s European parliamentarians have resigned the whip and urged voters to back the Conservatives.

Annunziata Rees Mogg, the sister of Tory grandee Jacob, Lance Forman, John Longworth and Lucy Harris have all delivered a letter to Nigel Farage explaining their decision to back the Tories.

The four were elected to the European parliament after the Brexit party stormed to victory in May’s European elections. But Mr Johnson has since succeeded in mopping up a large portion of the party’s vote as he has anchored his own party in the eurosceptic space.

The FT’s poll-of-polls shows plummeting support for the Brexit party since November 11, when Nigel Farage announced that the party would not contest seats won by the Conservatives in 2017.

The details of the letter will be released in a press conference later this morning in London, but for now Ms Rees Mogg said: “We need a strong Leave supporting government to deliver the Brexit 17.4m voted for. The Conservatives are the only option for Brexit supporters and democrats alike.”

Mr Longworth, a former director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, had the whip removed yesterday by the Brexit party “for repeatedly undermining the party’s election strategy.”

Mr Farage said in a statement:

Four of our MEPs don’t seem to understand that we both saved the Conservative party from large scale losses to the Liberal Democrats in the South and South West of England, [and] we are also hammering the Labour Leave vote in its traditional heartlands.


Labour aims to govern alone in a hung parliament

The FT’s Jim Pickard and Robert Shrimsley have held a wide-ranging interview with shadow chancellor John McDonnell:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would refuse to negotiate with smaller parties in the event of a hung parliament and instead dare them to vote down a minority government formed by him, according to shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

Lagging far behind the Conservatives in opinion polls with only a week to go before election day, many Labour figures believe the opposition party’s only viable path to power is by depriving the Tories of a parliamentary majority and then cobbling together a coalition.

Even if the Tories are the largest party in a hung parliament after December 12, Boris Johnson has far fewer options than Labour in assembling a working majority in the House of Commons.

This prospect has prompted Scottish National party leader Nicola Sturgeon to demand an early independence referendum as the key price of her support for Labour, while Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has hinted she could work with the party to stop Brexit if it removed Mr Corbyn as leader.

But Mr McDonnell said Labour would insist on its right to form a minority government in a hung parliament, rolling out its leftwing election manifesto — with £83bn of annual tax rises and extra public spending — and then challenging other parties to “make up their minds” on each policy, such as raising the minimum wage to £10 an hour.

“We will implement our manifesto . . . no negotiation, no deal, no coalitions,” said the shadow chancellor in an interview with the Financial Times.

“We’ll roll out our programme and let’s see if the Lib Dems vote against the real living wage at £10 an hour, let’s see if the SNP vote against the proposals we brought forward for ending austerity.”

Read the full story.

Johnson doubles down on promises on NHS and Brexit

The prime minister reiterated promises this morning on the NHS and Brexit that leave him a potential hostage to fortune if he is returned to office next week.

Speaking on ITV’s This Morning show Boris Johnson promised to complete Britain’s exit from the EU by January 31 if the Conservatives gain a majority and said the country would achieve a trade deal with the bloc by the end of next year.

He also doubled down on a vow that “under no circumstances” would any part of the NHS be sold off in a potential trade deal with the US.

He said Labour’s claims that the NHS privatisation would be on the table in a trade deal were “absolute nonsense” and “a scare story that comes up time and time again” before going on to compare a leaked dossier which Jeremy Corbyn said proved the NHS was for sale to “photographs that purport to prove that there are UFOs”.

Mr Johnson also repeated an apology for any offence caused to Muslims by comments in which he compared women wearing burqas to letterboxes. When pressed on other derogatory remarks he made in articles in the 1990s in which he called single mothers irresponsible and working class men feckless, he said: “I don’t think that this is the time to talk about articles that were written really a long time ago.”

A Labour government offers investors short-term appeal on tax

Wealth manager AJ Bell says the election has not been good for business, reports Andy Bounds from Manchester.

Although revenue and profits rose in the year to September 30, the inflow of funds has slowed ahead of the UK general election and decision over Brexit.

Andy Bell, founder and chief executive, said the country was in “the eye of the storm” waiting for further turmoil.

“Investors are sitting on their hands. People are not putting the maximum contribution into their pension or Isa. They are not sure about whether they will keep their job or what costs might go up. We hope they will come back into the market [after Brexit],” he told the FT.

A majority government would help the Manchester-based company, which runs a platform for DIY investors and one for financial advisers.

But would this be the case even it was led by Jeremy Corbyn, whose Labour party wants to transfer the assets of some of those investors such as rail and energy companies to the state?

“Under a Labour government high taxes would make the tax wrappers we offer more effective,” he said. “Isas and the like protect your income and become ever more valuable. Let’s wait and see.”

FT poll of polls – update

With only a week to go until polling day, Labour has not made up any ground during the election campaign, according to the FT’s poll of polls.

The Tory lead is back up to 11 points, which is exactly where we started back at the beginning of November.

The window of opportunity for Jeremy Corbyn to make up ground is closing, which helps explain why the pound is riding (relatively) high.

Political scientists and election forecasters generally believe that a Conservative polling lead of around 6 points over Labour is the dividing line between a Tory majority and a hung parliament.

Farage ‘disappointed’ with Brexit party defectors

The Brexit party was dealt a blow this morning after four of its most prominent MEPs quit and urged its supporters to vote for the Conservatives next week in an effort to unite the pro-Leave vote, writes Sebastian Payne.

Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit party, said he was “disappointed” with the MEPs — Annunziata Rees-Mogg, sister of cabinet minister Jacob, businessmen Lance Forman and John Longworth, and campaigner Lucy Harris — for not acknowledging that the party’s decision to stand down candidates in the south and south west of England had already helped to unite the Leave vote.

We are also hammering the Labour Leave vote in its traditional heartlands making it much easier for the Conservatives to win many of those seats.

The only vote on the Leave side that is currently being split is in areas such as Barnsley, the South Wales Valleys, Doncaster and Hartlepool where there is a risk that the Tories will split our vote.

A spokesperson for the party suggested that the personal circumstances of Ms Rees-Mogg, Ms Harris, Mr Forman and Mr Longworth may have affected their decision to leave the the party.

We also note that one of the MEPs is the sister of a Cabinet Minister, another has a partner who works in the office of the same Cabinet Minister and yet another is a personal friend of both Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.

The spokesperson insisted the party would not be standing down any more candidates, however.

“We’re here to keep the f*****s honest,” they said, presumably referring to the Tories.

Annunziata Rees-Mogg: Brexit party now ‘risking Brexit’

Annunziata Rees-Mogg, the sister of House of Commons leader Jacob, and arguably the most high profile of this morning’s Brexit party defectors, said the party had become “the very party risking Brexit” as she outlined her reasons for quitting.

She and three other Brexit party MEPs announced their decision to leave earlier today, urging voters to ditch Nigel Farage’s party in favour of Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in order to avoid splitting the pro-Brexit vote.

I find it absolutely unbelievable, but tragic, that the Brexit party with so many wonderful people dedicated to a cause are now the very party risking Brexit.

“I only stood in May to fight for Brexit,” she said. “I am still determined to do so.”

She said she had not been offered any enticements by the Conservatives to make her decision.

Johnson victory would lead to Trumpism in the UK, says Cambridge politics don

One of Britain’s leading political thinkers has said that a Boris Johnson government would lead to a “deregulated economy and a nasty state” and “Trumpism” in the UK if he wins the general election.

In an article published today in the London Review of Books, a literary journal, David Runciman wrote that Thatcherism was once described (somewhat heroically) as the free economy and the strong state but that Mr Johnson does not aspire to this.

Mr Runciman, professor of politics at Cambridge university and co-host of the influential podcast Talking Politics, wrote that:

We can expect a Johnson administration’s direction of travel to be towards tough talk on security and a light touch when it comes to the influence of people with serious money.

He added that the chances of a minority Conservative government or Labour majority outcome are “very remote”:

The possible outcomes of the election have resolved themselves into a binary choice. Either Johnson wins a majority, in which case the UK will almost certainly leave the EU on 31 January 2020. Or Johnson falls short of a majority, in which case it will be down to his opponents to construct a government – almost certainly a minority Labour government – that will offer a second Brexit referendum at some point in 2020.

However, even with a small majority, he wrote, Mr Johnson can govern in the long run as he has purged his party of many opponents.

He was sceptical that Labour’s lavish spending promises can fix an ailing economy and public services:

A Corbyn government would be made up of extremely inexperienced ministers. The kind of economic transformation that is announced in the Labour manifesto needs political stability and long-term civil service support to have any reasonable prospect of success. JC + 2 refs won’t give you that.

To read the full article, click here

Brexit transforms the Conservative voter base

The FT’s Tony Barber writes:

One week before UK polling day, financial markets in London and around the world expect a victory — even a healthy parliamentary majority — for Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his ruling Conservatives.

Nonetheless, the core promise of the Conservatives’ campaign — to “get Brexit done” — will probably return to haunt Mr Johnson and his colleagues.

For Brexit is propelling a profound change in the Conservative party’s electoral base in British society. This is certain to complicate the actions of a future Johnson government.

Millions of less well-off voters are turning to the party because they dislike not only the EU but large-scale immigration, political correctness and liberal social values.

However, these voters like large, well-funded public services. They want the state to protect them against the cruelties of the free market. In short, their preferences are light years from the purist economic libertarianism favoured by pro-Brexit rightwing ideologues.

The Johnson government will struggle to reconcile its proposed radical divergence from the EU model with the desire for protection of the new Conservative voters.

Read Tony’s full piece here

Tories rake in £3.6m in donations in third week of campaign

Reports Laura Hughes, FT political correspondent:

The Conservatives received almost seven times more in large donations than Labour in the third week of the general election campaign.

Boris Johnson’s party declared £3.6m in donations in the week of November 20-26, according to Electoral Commission figures published on Thursday.

Labour raised £521,909, while the Liberal Democrats received £509,998 over the same period.

Johnson guarantees he would get EU trade deal by December 2020

Boris Johnson said he is certain he could reach a trade deal with the EU by December of next year if he is returned to office with a majority next week.

There has been doubt cast over the prospect of the EU and UK reaching a comprehensive trade deal in the 11 months after Brexit on January 31 if Mr Johnson’s withdrawal deal is approved.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told MEPs last week that this would normally be far too short a time period to negotiate an agreement, but that Brussels would strive to have a deal in place for the end of 2020 nonetheless.

Speaking in Derbyshire just now Mr Johnson said he had “absolutely no doubt at all that we’ll be able ensure the EU protects its own interest and does a deal with us that ensures that continues for the future”.

If you say can I absolutely guarantee we can get a deal I think we can. And I’ll tell you why. Look at what we achieved in three months with the new deal I did.

FT Analysis — Unrealistic election pledges will leave the UK disappointed

Writes Chris Giles, FT economics editor:

The result of next week’s UK election is far from certain. Outcomes ranging from a Conservative victory to a minority Labour-led government still seem possible. The one certainty is that the cheers from the winning side will be fleeting.

Those who supported the Conservatives because they promise to “get Brexit done” will soon feel the sting of disappointment. Signing the EU withdrawal agreement would start the Brexit transition period on January 31. By February, it will be plain to see that the issue has not been put to rest: the UK starts tough negotiations over its long-term relationship with Brussels.The clock will again be ticking and the trade-offs invidious.

The Labour campaign has been even more eccentric. Despite committing to reasonable fiscal rules, the leadership shows every intention of paying mere lip service to budgetary or economic constraints ever since.

The Liberal Democrats or Scottish Nationalists might moderate the main parties in a hung parliament. Sadly, there is little sign they are interested in this role. A minority government would be a continuation of the past two years’ turmoil rather than the relative stability of the 2010-15 coalition.

After a dire campaign, this election result is both highly important for Britain’s future and likely to result in a miserable outcome for the victor. Britain should prepare to be disappointed.

Read the full article here

Johnson still refusing to submit to Andrew Neil interview

The prime minister again dodged questioning on whether he would submit to a comprehensive grilling by veteran BBC presenter Andrew Neil before polling day, insisting he has already put himself forward for unprecedented media scrutiny.

Mr Neil has already put fellow party leaders Jeremy Corbyn, Jo Swinson and Nicola Sturgeon through the ringer. The interview with Mr Corbyn led to days of negative headlines about Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism. But Boris Johnson has thus far declined to set a date to be interviewed by him.

Speaking just now at a Q&A session in Derbyshire, Mr Johnson said he had already and would continue “to submit to the interrogation of the media”.

I’m the first prime minister to do … two one-on-one leadership debates, several hours’ worth of phone-ins, endless press conferences and interviews with all sorts of BBC people called Andrew.

This latter point was a reference to an interview last weekend with the BBC’s Andrew Marr, widely seen by some as a slightly softer touch than his namesake.

Mr Johnson then directed reportes to his director of communications Lee Cain “for further information” on his media schedule.

Despite what he insists is an extremely busy schedule, the prime minister found time for a somewhat tamer morning television chat with ITV’s Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield on This Morning earlier today, which provided him with an opportunity for this selfie:

Labour officials give accounts of party’s alleged failure on anti-semitism

Writes the FT’s Laura Hughes, political correspondent:

Seventy serving and former Labour party officials have made highly critical comments about the party’s alleged failure to tackle anti-Semitism in its ranks in formal statements presented to an independent investigation.

The officials’ testimony forms part of a leaked submission from the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Britain’s human rights watchdog, which is investigating the main UK opposition party.

The EHRC announced in May that it would look into whether the party may have “unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish”.

At the heart of the dispute, which partly prompted nine Labour MPs to quit the party in February, is the allegation that the party has failed to stamp out incidents swiftly enough.

Allegations in the leaked document included “signalling by the [party] leader that anti-Semitic views are acceptable” and that Mr Corbyn “has repeatedly associated with, sympathised with and engaged in anti-Semitism”.

JLM submission to the EHRC:

This abuse sometimes takes the form of language relating to Israel (eg ‘Dirty Zionist’ and ‘Zio’). However, it is clear from the evidence that these words are now within the Party lexicon of insults for a Jewish person, regardless of that person’s views on Israel.

Read Laura’s full report here

Where were they today?

With just one week to go until polling day, all parties are redoubling efforts to get out on the campaign trail and put their pitches to voters.

As Boris Johnson fielded questions on Conservative taxation pledges at a Derbyshire mill, Jeremy Corbyn was in Peterborough promoting Labour’s education policies.

Johnson claims to be unaware of Tory plans to raise taxes

Laura Hughes and Chris Giles report:

Boris Johnson claimed this afternoon not to be “aware” of his own Conservative party manifesto’s plans to raise taxes if he wins the general election.

The UK prime minister set out his agenda earlier this week for the first 100 days of a Conservative government, led by a pledge to use a February Budget to implement tax cuts.

Asked how this was possible given the manifesto sets out much larger tax increases, Mr Johnson responded: “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

He added:

We’re cutting taxes on national insurance contributions and on business rates, and I’m certainly not aware of the data you describe. We’re cutting taxes. And in our first budget we propose to do more to cut taxes.

The prime minister was correct in detailing the Conservatives’ proposed increase in the starting threshold for paying national insurance and some limited tax cuts for business, but he omitted the much larger tax increases he included in the costing document of the Tory manifesto.

In total, the Tories proposed tax cuts amount to £3.5bn a year by 2023-24 while the tax increases start at £3.3bn in the 2020-21 financial year, rising to £7.3bn by 2023-24, more than double the level of tax reductions.

Any additional tax cuts Mr Johnson might propose before the scheduled Budget in February would further reduce the already-limited £5bn margin for error the Conservatives have built into their new fiscal rules for 2022-23.

The main tax increase proposed by Mr Johnson is to reverse the government’s plan to cut corporation tax to 17 per cent from April. Having legislated in the 2016 Finance Act to implement that cut, it would have to include the tax rise in any Budget, as the Conservatives’ manifesto costing document recognised.

Another good day for sterling

Sterling rose again today as polls pointing to a Tory victory remained stable.

As markets neared close in London the pound had risen 0.4 per cent against the US dollar to $1.3161, a seven-month high. The currency was up 0.2 per cent against the euro at €1.1854, where it has hit 31-month highs.

The pound has been the best performing major currency this week, racking up strong gains as polls suggest Boris Johnson is on course for victory next Thursday night.

Building on momentum from earlier this week, the pound has now jumped 1.6 per cent against the dollar over the past three trading days in its best run since October.

Analysts have broadly cited polling data that have steadily pointed to a 10-percentage point lead for the Tories, on the aggregate. The thinking goes if Boris Johnson is able to secure a majority, it will help alleviate Brexit uncertainty … at least in the short run.

Tory chancellor ‘misremembers’ homeless stat

The Conservative party has admitted that Sajid Javid used an incorrect statistic in an interview with Sky news this morning.

Mr Javid, chancellor of the exchequer, told Sky:

Homelessness reached its peak in 2008 under the last Labour government, since then it’s down by almost a half […] it’s Labour that was responsible for the massive rise in homelessness.

However, the party later told Channel 4 fact checkers that he had “misremembered” the years and in fact meant homelessness peaked in 2003 under Labour.

Channel 4 FactCheck stated on its website:

This error is significant because the dataset he’s referring to reveals that it was Labour that oversaw all of the decline in statutory homelessness that Mr Javid seems to take credit for — and that the situation has actually got worse since the Conservatives took office.

Statutory homelessness was 135,590 in 2003, and fell to 42,390 by the time Labour left office in 2010. That means Labour presided over a 69 per cent drop in statutory homelessness in their final seven years in government.

Sturgeon attacks PM for ‘evading scrutiny’

Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National party, has called on voters to “Stop Boris Johnson” and “put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands”.

Ms Sturgeon attacked the prime minister for “evading scrutiny” during the election campaign.

Mr Johnson has continued to decline an interview with BBC journalist Andrew Neil and failed to appear on a television climate debate. Although, he did make time to appear on daytime chat show This Morning on Thursday.

Touring the country in an eye-catching yellow bus emblazoned with the words: “Stop Brexit”, the SNP leader drew attention to the potential risks posed to Scotland if Mr Johnson implements his withdrawal bill:

Boris Johnson has ducked and dived…throughout this whole campaign and no wonder because everybody knows that if he gets his way he drags Scotland out of the EU against our will, out of the single market and the customs union.

Sixty-two per cent of Scottish voters opted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum.

What happened today?

We are one week out from polling day. Here is a rundown of the main events on the campaign trail today:

• The biggest item on the agenda was the decision by four Brexit party MEPs – including Annunziata Rees-Mogg, sister of Jacob – to abandon the party and urge voters to back the Conservatives to avoid splitting the pro-Brexit vote.

• Sterling continued its rise as traders became increasingly convinced that the Tories will come out on top next week with a majority that would allow them to push through Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, removing near-term market uncertainty.

• At a Q&A session in Derbyshire, Mr Johnson claimed to be unaware of his party manifesto’s plans to raise taxes if he wins the general election

• Meanwhile, Labour’s John McDonnell told the FT that his party would opt to govern alone in the event of a hung parliament and refuse to negotiate with smaller parties.

• It was also revealed that seventy Labour party officials made highly critical comments about the party’s alleged failure to tackle anti-Semitism in its ranks in formal statements presented to an independent investigation.

Thank you and goodnight

And that is that for today.

We are exactly one week out from polling day now and the parties will be making a final push to win over wavering voters.

We’ll be covering it all here on Election Central so please do follow along.

See you all tomorrow.