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General election news – live: Tories accused of spreading false claim aide was hit by Labour protester

Follow all the latest developments

Adam Forrest,Lizzy Buchan
Monday 09 December 2019 23:02 GMT
Protesters berate Matt Hancock and staff after hospital visit

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Boris Johnson has come under fire for failing to address a shocking image of a four-year-old boy forced to sleep on a NHS hospital floor – snatching the phone of a reporter attempting to show the image to him and putting it in his pocket.

Health secretary Matt Hancock was met with protesters shouting “shame on you” as he visited Leeds General Infirmary later on Tuesday. The Tories were accused of trying to “cheat and manipulate the media” after incorrectly briefing broadcasters that Mr Hancock’s aide had been punched by a protester.

It came as Mr Johnson faced a backlash over his remarks about EU citizens being able to “treat the UK as if it’s part of their own country”.

Meanwhile, John McDonnell unveiled Labour plans to begin nationalising utility companies within 100 days, while the DUP leader Arlene Foster said the prime minister “broke his word” that the Brexit deal would not include a customs border in the Irish Sea.

During a Question Time special to address the concerns of voters under 30, Nigel Farage was accused of “peddling racism” and “dog-whistle politics” during the Brexit referendum by Jo Swinson and Angela Rayner.

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley described Mr Farage standing in front of the infamous anti-migration “breaking point” poster as “the lowest moment of my life”.


Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the general election campaign, with only three days until we go to the polls.

Adam Forrest9 December 2019 08:25

‘You’re a Tory in disguise’: C4 audience member attacks Swinson

Jo Swinson was accused of being a “Tory in disguise” by a member of the audience at a TV election debate.

The leader of the Lib Dems came under fire on Channel 4’s ​Britain Decides: Everything But Brexit after she said her party would raise the basic rate of income tax to fund the NHS.

An unidentified woman in the audience asked her: “Why doesn’t Jo Swinson show her true colours? They’re blue. You’re a Tory in disguise, state what you are.

“You dare to try and raise taxes on lower earners when the country is in austerity. How dare you.”

Swinson responded by saying her party was being “honest” about how it would end austerity and invest in public services.

Adam Forrest9 December 2019 08:29

PM says sorry ‘everybody who has a bad experience’ in NHS

The prime minister has apologised to “everybody who has a bad experience” in the NHS – but did not offer a personal apology to the family of Jack Williment, the four-year-old boy who had to sleep on a hospital floor.

“Of course I sympathise very much and I apologise to everybody who has a bad experience,” Johnson told LBC radio this morning.

“By and large, I think the NHS do an amazing job and I think that they deserve all praise for the service they provide – but they do need investment and that’s why we’re doing it now.

“But they need investment from a one nation government that really cares and understands – that’s us that cares and understands – and you need long-term funding.”

Asked if he had an apology for the family, he replied: “Yeah, I do, and this is exactly why we need to move on.

“We’re putting £34bn into the NHS now, this is the biggest investment we’ve seen in modern times but we need to drive it forward.”

Adam Forrest9 December 2019 08:42

Swinson admits victory ‘unlikely’ – and admits to ‘fair bit’ of cannabis use while at university

Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson admitted it “doesn’t look likely” her party will win a majority as she insisted the Lib Dems have led the campaign for a second EU referendum.

Asked about her party's manifesto pledge to revoke Article 50, Swinson said: “It’s only in the circumstances of a Liberal Democrat majority government which of course in itself would be democratic.

“But where we are right now that obviously doesn’t look likely.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she added: “The most likely way we can stop Brexit is through a people’'s vote and the Liberal Democrats have led the campaign for a people’s vote for three-and-a-half years.”

Asked on Sunday about the naughtiest thing she had done, Swinson said: “I did smoke a fair bit of cannabis at university.

“I don't know whether that counts as particularly naughty, but your readers and viewers will be able to make up their own mind on that.”

Pressed to define a “fair bit” of cannabis, Swinson said: “It wasn’t just one, and I did inhale.”

Adam Forrest9 December 2019 08:46

Labour would begin nationalising utilities within 100 days

A Labour government will begin nationalising water and energy companies within 100 days of taking office, John McDonnell has said.

The shadow chancellor said the new state-owned companies would be run by governing boards consisting of workers, customers and local officials.

The board’s meetings would be streamed live online so that people can watch the decisions being made on their behalf, he said. 

McDonnell will lay out the plans in a speech in London on Monday as he announces what would be in Labour’s first budget, which would be held within 100 days of the election.

More details here:

Adam Forrest9 December 2019 08:50

Arlene Foster turns on Boris Johnson: ‘Once bitten, twice shy’

The DUP leader Arlene Foster has accused Boris Johnson of a “betrayal” over Brexit, saying he “broke his word” that a withdrawal agreement would not include a border in the Irish Sea.

Foster, whose party propped up the current Conservative government, defended standing alongside Johnson since he entered No 10 and said it was “right for the leadership of unionism in Northern Ireland to work with the prime minister of the day”,

Asked if Johnson’s Brexit deal represented a “betrayal”, she told the BBC’s Today programme: “I think it says more about the person who broke their word, than me and leadership of the unionist party, the betrayal.”

Adam Forrest9 December 2019 08:58

Labour calls on Boris Johnson to apologise after boy slept on hospital floor

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has called on Boris Johnson to personally apologise to the family of a four-year-old boy who had to sleep on a hospital floor.

Leeds woman Sarah Williment covered her son Jack in coats to keep him warm as he waited for a bed at Leeds General Infirmary, where she had taken him last Tuesday fearing he had pneumonia.

He was eventually moved to a ward, where he waited for five hours on a trolley before a bed was found at 3am, Williment told the Daily Mirror. Diagnosed with flu and tonsillitis, Jack was allowed to be taken home at lunchtime.

Williment, 34, told the paper she would now switch allegiance and vote Labour in Thursday’s election, owing to her concerns about the state of the NHS.

“This is shameful,” said Ashworth. “Boris Johnson should personally apologise to Jack and his family. A decade of Tory cuts has brought us to this crisis in our NHS.

“If the Tories win on Thursday, patients including children will suffer five more years of this. We need a Labour government to save our NHS.”

Williment told the paper: “I am frustrated about the system and the lack of beds, which I am presuming is due to a lack of funding to the NHS to deliver the services that are required.”

Adam Forrest9 December 2019 09:07

Boris Johnson visits Labour heartlands

Boris Johnson is heading in Labour’s heartlands today, amid growing confidence that a repeat of the “roar” that helped deliver victory for the Leave campaign will lead to election victory later this week.

The PM is expected to visit several Labour-held seats in Humber and the north-east, including Sunderland, where 61 per cent of voters backed Leave in 2016.

The decision to campaign in traditional Labour areas comes on the back of an exclusive BMG Research poll for The Independent which showed the Tories leading by nine points on 43 per cent.

A slew of polls over the weekend gave the Conservatives an average lead of 10 points, and a major new seat projection by Datapraxis indicated suggests a solid-enough Tory majority of 38 seats.

Adam Forrest9 December 2019 09:12

PM unable to explain Tories’ claim on Labour causing more murders

Boris Johnson appeared unable to explain his party’s claim that there would be 52 more murders a year under a Labour government.

The prime minister was pushed on the suggestion, made by home secretary Priti Patel, during his LBC interview after the Tories were accused of releasing “more dodgy numbers”.

Johnson did not explain where the figure had come from.

On immigration, Johnson pledged to get “the numbers down”, but also insisted he was “not going to get into a numbers game”.

The PM was also asked about HS2, a project he says will probably cost “north of £100bn” even though the current estimate is £88bn. Questioned on why he was using the £100bn figure, he said: “It’s a figure I’ve used many times in the past.”

Johnson, asked if he was still planning to lie down in front of bulldozers at Heathrow if work starts on the third runway, said: “I don’t see much sign of any bulldozers yet.”

He added: “I would have to find some way of honouring that promise. It might be technically difficult to achieve.”

Adam Forrest9 December 2019 09:16

‘We won’t need to plan for no-deal,’ says Tory minister

Rishi Sunak, the chief secretary to the Treasury, has said there is no need for further no-deal Brexit planning.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether “no-deal planning” would resume if the Conservatives win a majority on Thursday, Sunak said: “We won’t need to plan for no-deal because we will have a deal.”

He added: “There is going to be a trade deal... everyone said we wouldn’t be able to get this deal, we have got this deal.”

He continued: “The trade deal, the outlines of it, the framework of it, is already there contained in the political declaration in quite a lot of detail and talks about an ambitious, comprehensive trading relationship with close cooperation on security, on economic matters.

“And we can go and sort the details of that over the course of next year.”

Adam Forrest9 December 2019 09:30

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