Denis Staunton’s UK election diary: Polls indicate Tory majority
Boris Johnson to accuse Jeremy Corbyn of executing a Great Betrayal of 2016 Brexit referendum vote
Prime minister Boris Johnson at Conservative campaign headquarters call centre, London. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
It’s three days to Election Day and Boris Johnson will spend much of the next 72 hours in the Labour-held seats that voted Leave in 2016 which he sees as his path to a Conservative majority.
In an aggressive message to Labour Leave voters in Sunderland today, he will accuse Jeremy Corbyn of executing a Great Betrayal “orchestrated from Islington by politicians who sneer at your values and ignore your votes”. But as the Financial Times’ George Parker reports, Johnson may have to perform a Brexit betrayal of his own if he returns to Downing Street because customs arrangements for Northern Ireland will not be ready for Britain to leave its standstill transition phase with the EU at the end of 2020. The Conservative manifesto rules out extending the transition but a Department for Exiting the EU (Dexeu) document warns that implementing the protocol that requires Northern Ireland to follow EU customs rules after the rest of the UK leaves the customs union could make the deadline impossible to meet.
“Delivery of the required infrastructure, associated systems and staffing to implement the requirements of the protocol by December 2020 represents a major strategic, political and operational challenge,” it says. Johnson’s push through Labour-held seats in Wales, the Midlands and the north of England comes as polls continue to give the Conservatives an average lead of about 10 points, which should be enough to secure a comfortable majority. An advanced analysis by Datapraxis of almost half a million YouGov polling responses points to a Tory majority of 38 seats.
As chief executive Paul Hilder writes in Prospect, this is down from Datapraxis’s projection of a 48-seat majority two weeks ago and Thursday’s election could produce anything from a hung parliament to a Tory landslide. Tactical voting could make a big difference to the outcome, particularly in the Remain-leaning south of England where some high-profile Conservatives are at risk if the anti-Tory vote consolidates. Among them is former Conservative leader and arch-Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith, whose Chingford and Woodford Green seat is so vulnerable that Johnson went there himself to campaign yesterday.
Duncan Smith’s Labour challenger is economist Faiza Shaheen and her appeal is evident in this superb campaign video. The most popular choice for this year’s “Portillo moment” would be foreign secretary Dominic Raab, whose majority of more than 23,000 should make his Esher and Walton seat among the safest in the country. But demographic changes, a surge in young voter registration and tactical voting could give the Liberal Democrats one of the most dramatic upsets of the election on Thursday night.
Simon Carswell reports from Crewe on how Brexit is making the election vicious.
Chris Johns says either the rich or the “left behind” will be disappointed after Thursday.
Tom McTague in the Atlantic hears from Northern unionists and loyalists.
My Weekend Review piece on the state of the campaign.
Quote of the day
“Come on folks, help me out here! What is the naughtiest thing that you’ve ever seen me do?” Boris Johnson calling on his aides for help answering the tough questions from Sophie Ridge on Sky News.
What’s on today
10am Anti-Brexit group Best for Britain publishes its latest data on seat projections and tactical voting.
11am Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell makes a speech about the economy
8.30pm BBC Question Time special with an audience of under-30s
Conservatives 42.9; Labour 33.0; Liberal Democrats 12.6; Brexit 3.0; Greens 2.9; Others 5.7
From Britain Elects