AT-A-GLANCE: The key moments of the 2019 election campaign
With less than 24 hours left until the polls open for the third general election in five years, PoliticsHome takes a look back at the key moments from the campaign.
29 OCTOBER: JOHNSON GETS HIS ELECTION
Christmas came early for Prime Minister Boris Johnson when the Commons finally voted in favour of an election on December 12 - the first winter election since 1923. This was his third attempt at securing an election, having tried and failed twice to get the election in September.
31 OCTOBER: TRUMP WEIGHS IN
Good friends Nigel Farage and Donald Trump chatted on the Brexit Party leader’s LBC show. The POTUS used the time to praise Boris Johnson, endorse a Brexit Party/Conservative pact and label Jeremy Corbyn “bad for [the] country.'' He also said he was concerned about the PMs Brexit deal, saying it could prevent a trade deal with the US.
6 NOVEMBER: CAMPAIGNING KICKS OFF
With Parliament dissolved, the Tories kicked things off at an event in Birmingham, while Jeremy Corbyn pledged to be a “different kind of PM” at a speech in Telford. But, questions about Corbyn’s leadership were quickly raised after Tom Watson announced he was stepping down as Labour’s deputy leader. Meanwhile, Remain-backing opposition parties the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens announced a pact across 60 seats.
11 NOVEMBER: FARAGE STANDS ASIDE
In a dramatic U-turn, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage announced he was standing down 317 of his candidates in Tory-held seats. The plan had been to run in over 600 seats ever since Johnson turned down his offer of a “Leave alliance”. But, Farage changed his tone following new promises from the PM over Brexit, focusing his efforts on taking on Labour instead.
19 NOVEMBER: ‘FACTCHECKUK’ FALLOUT
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn clashed over the NHS, Brexit and the monarchy in ITV’s first televised debate. But, the real controversy took place on Twitter. CCHQ’s press account was criticised for changing its Twitter name to ‘factcheckUK’ while challenging Labour comments during the debate. Twitter said that “decisive action” would be taken if the account attempted to “mislead” people again.
20 NOVEMBER: THE FIRST MANIFESTO
The Liberal Democrats were the first major party to launch their manifesto, in which they pledged to extend free schools meals and bring in a freeze on rail fares. Much of their spending would apparently be funded by a £50bn 'Remain bonus' made available by the UK staying in the EU. Party leader Jo Swinson said the manifesto offered “a brighter future”.
21 NOVEMBER: LABOUR’S ‘INVESTMENT BLITZ’
Jeremy Corbyn launched his party’s ambitious “manifesto of hope”, promising an “investment blitz” of £83bn across the UK. Criticism came in quick, with the IFS claiming that Labour couldn’t afford its plans without reneging on pledges not to increase taxes for 95% of taxpayers. Meanwhile, the Tories came under fire for bumping a fake Labour website to the top of Google’s search results.
22 NOVEMBER: CORBYN NEUTRAL
Jeremy Corbyn and the PM were joined by the Lib Dem’s Jo Swinson and SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon for the BBC’s Question Time leaders special. The biggest moment was Corbyn dropping the bombshell that he’d remain neutral in a second Brexit referendum. Elsewhere, Boris Johnson refused to apologise for past offensive comments and Sturgeon said she’d only support Labour if they agreed to another independence referendum.
24 NOVEMBER: TORY MEH-NIFESTO
Boris Johnson launched the Conservatives slim and fiscally modest manifesto. It’s just 60 pages long compared to Labour’s 105 and pledges just £2.9bn of extra spending. The promise to “get Brexit done” takes centre stage, after which the Tories will “unleash Britain’s potential”. Questions were raised about promises to hire 50,000 more nurses, as well as a lack of detail on key issues such as social care.
26 NOVEMBER: CORBYN WON’T SAY SORRY
The BBC’s Andrew Neil spent a third of their interview slot pushing the Labour leader to apologise for his handling of anti-semitism, but Jeremy Corbyn repeatedly refused. The interview took place the day after chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said Corbyn wasn’t fit for high office. Neil also grilled Corbyn on his tax policies, as well as his neutral stance on Brexit.
27 NOVEMBER: NHS ‘ON THE TABLE’
Jeremy Corbyn produced 451 pages of confidential documents that he claimed proved the NHS was “on the table” in UK-US trade talks. The PM had previously denied this, and denied it again following the reveal. Questions about the origins of the documents were soon raised, which had been shared online two months earlier.
28 NOVEMBER: ICE SCULPTURE STUNT
Leaders of the Greens, Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Labour all took part in Channel 4’s debate on climate change, but Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage didn’t show. The broadcaster decided to replace them with melting globe-shaped ice sculptures, which didn’t go down well with the Tories. They threatened to pull Channel 4’s license, claiming they should have let Michael Gove take the PMs place.
29 NOVEMBER: LONDON BRIDGE
Campaigning was briefly paused following a terrorist incident in London Bridge in which two people died. Boris Johnson quickly returned to London from his constituency to get briefed on what happened. Within days, the father of one of the victims launched a thinly-veiled attack at the PM, criticising those politicising his son’s death.
3 DECEMBER: NHS ‘OFF THE TABLE’
Speaking in London ahead of the Nato summit, Donald Trump said the US wouldn’t want the NHS “if you handed it to us on a silver platter”. This was the POTUS’ only intervention in the election, after Boris Johnson asked Trump not to get involved. The PM did get a ringing endorsement from Trump, though, who said he was “very capable”.
5 DECEMBER: NEIL VS JOHNSON
The BBC’s Andrew Neil laid down the gauntlet for Boris Johnson after the Tory leader refused to face him. The PM was the only party leader not to face a grilling by Neil, despite repeated requests to do so. Ending his challenge, Neil said: “The Prime Minister of our nation will at times have to stand up to President Trump, President Putin, President Xi of China. So we're surely not expecting too much that he spend half an hour standing up to me."
9 DECEMBER: PHONE-GATE
While speaking to ITV’s Joe Pike, Boris Johnson repeatedly refused to look at an image of a sick child sleeping on a hospital floor because there were no beds. The PM then made the odd decision to pocket the phone. Commenting on the exchange, Jeremy Corbyn said: “He just doesn’t care.”
10 DECEMBER: ‘IT WAS BANTER’
On the penultimate day of campaigning, a covert recording of Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth criticising Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership was published by Guido Fawkes. Defending his comments live on the BBC shortly after it dropped, he said it was all “banter” and “a bit of joshing” between him and Tory activist Greig Baker, who leaked the conversation.
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