Johnson Tours Election Battleground After Debate Tie: U.K. Votes

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Boris Johnson is campaigning in the key election battleground of northern England on Wednesday, after a snap poll showed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn defied his negative ratings to record an effective tie with the prime minister in their first televised head-to-head debate.

The Liberal Democrats, who were excluded from the debate, sought to capitalize on the negative view of both leaders by saying their manifesto will offer a brighter alternative when it’s published later.

Must Read: The Beginning of the End of the U.K. May Come on Dec. 12

Key Developments:

Liberal Democrats unveil their election manifesto at 5 p.m.The Brexit Party holds a campaign event in east LondonYouGov conducted a snap poll on Tuesday night’s debate, giving it to Johnson by the narrowest margin: 51% to 49%. The full report digs into audience impressions

Johnson Pledges Tax Cuts (1:50 p.m.)

Boris Johnson seemed to reveal a line from his Conservative Party’s manifesto when he told engineering workers during a campaign visit to Teesside that he plans changes to national insurance contributions, and appeared to make a reference to the threshold at which the tax is paid.

“We’re going to be cutting national insurance up to 12,000, we’re going to be making sure that we cut business rates for small businesses,” Johnson said after he was asked if his proposed tax cuts would just be for the rich. “We are cutting tax for working people.”

The current threshold for paying national insurance for the majority of employees is earnings of 8,632 pounds ($11,150) a year. The Conservatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for clarification. The party said at the weekend that they would cut the national insurance contributions for employers, but made no mention of the part of the tax paid by workers.

The prime minister also said he plans to boost shipbuilding, a totemic industry in the northeast of England. “My dream is to have a shipbuilding renaissance in this country,” he said. “I see a big future for shipbuilding in this country, and we’re going to be investing in it.”

Swinson Pledges ‘Remain’ Spending Boost (1 p.m.)

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson made a direct appeal to voters put off by both Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson in Tuesday night’s debate as she prepares to reveal her party’s manifesto later.

“Our politics has been dominated by the two, tired old parties for too long. This election provides an opportunity to change the future of our country and build a brighter future with the Liberal Democrats,” she said in a statement. “This manifesto is a bold plan to build a brighter future for our country, and that starts with stopping Brexit.”

As well as stopping the U.K.’s departure from the EU, the party will pledge to ensure 80% of energy comes from renewable sources by 2030, recruit 20,000 more teachers and upgrade mental health provision in the National health Service, it said.

The party says it would have 50 billion pounds ($65 billion) more to spend than the other parties over the next five years as a result of growth not being pegged back by Brexit. “Labour and the Conservatives can’t offer the country a brighter future because they both want Brexit. We know that will be bad for our economy, bad for our NHS and bad for our environment,” Swinson said.

Sturgeon: Independence Easier Than Brexit (12:35 p.m.)

Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party, said those wanting to support independence for Scotland shouldn’t be put off by the quagmire that has engulfed the U.K.’s departure from the European Union.

“Let us not let the charlatans who were so dishonest with people over Brexit somehow suggest that constitutional change has to be that way,” Sturgeon said at a campaign event in Dundee. “It’s that way on Brexit because of their dishonesty and their lack of planning, these are mistakes the independence campaign didn’t make in 2014 and won’t make in future.”

Sturgeon is demanding another referendum on independence after the failed attempt five years ago and said the election offers an opportunity “to secure the right to choose our own future.”

Rabb: Voters ‘Don’t Give a Toss’ About Twitter Row (Earlier)

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab defended the Conservative Party’s rebranding of its Twitter account during Tuesday night’s debate to pretend it was a fact-checking service, after the social media company warned the party for attempting to “mislead” voters.

“I knock on doors every day. No one gives a toss about the social media cut-and-thrust,” Raab told the BBC. “What they care about is the substance of the issues.”

He refused to apologize for changing the name of the party’s official Twitter account to FactcheckUK, saying the party did it as a way to rebut Labour’s claims about its plans. “It was pegged to the CCHQ account. No one who looked at it for more than a split-second would have been fooled,” he said. “We are holding Labour to account for the nonsense that they systematically and serially put out in relation to Conservatives.”

Twitter warned the party not to repeat the stunt. “We have global rules in place that prohibit behavior that can mislead people, including those with verified accounts,” it said in a statement. “Any further attempts to mislead people by editing verified profile information — in a manner seen during the U.K. election debate — will result in decisive corrective action.”

Lib Dems Pledge ‘Emergency Cash’ for Schools (Earlier)

The Liberal Democrats, who launch their manifesto later Wednesday, promised to plow “an emergency cash injection” into schools to recruit more staff and fund teacher pay rises. The extra cash would come from the 50 billion pound “Remain bonus” which the party says would come from its flagship policy of staying in the European Union.

“School leaders that I’ve spoken to would very much welcome this money,” the party’s education spokeswoman, Layla Moran, told BBC Radio. She defended the 50 billion pound estimate as based on independent forecasts. “We know that by stopping Brexit there will be an uptick to our economy,” she said. “There is no independent forecast which doesn’t suggest that’s true.”

Earlier:

The Beginning of the End of the U.K. May Come on Dec. 12Corbyn Holds Johnson to Debate Draw: U.K. Campaign TrailLabour Plan to Raise Tax on Top 5% in U.K. Called Into Question

To contact the reporters on this story: Joe Mayes in London at jmayes9@bloomberg.net;Thomas Penny in London at tpenny@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs, Thomas Penny

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

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