The Scotsman

Manifesto launches due in crucial election week

◆ Prime Minister cancels all interviews for the day as poll predicts the Tory numbers in Westminste­r could fall under 150

- Alexander Brown

It has been a strange weekend, where in the aftermath of Rishi Sunak’s early exit from the D-day event, he has avoided all media.

The Prime Minister did no campaignin­g yesterday, turned down all interviews, and cancelled those already in place.

With not long to go, Mr Sunak needs to dramatical­ly alter his party’s fortunes, with one poll yesterday even predicting the Tory numbers in Westminste­r could fall under 150.

Now entering party manifesto week, could this be the turning point for the Prime Minister, or more of the same? Here’s what to look out for.

We are at the part of the campaign where the contenders finally publish their manifestos, something that can both salvage or kill a campaign.

Jeremy Corbyn’s policy heavy manifesto in 2019 is a frequent reference for the current Labour party, who have since vowed to meet the public where they are. Labour will publish their manifesto on Thursday, which will include a cast-iron pledge not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT.

It is expected to include a pledge to recognise Palestine before the end of any peace process, and to make sure such a move does not get vetoed by a neighbouri­ng country. Labour is also considerin­g a promise to lower the retirement age for ambulance workers to boost recruitmen­t and retention. It is also expected to focus heavily on security.

In an early blow to Sir Keir Starmer, Unite, Britain’s second-biggest trade union, has refused to endorse the manifesto after arguing it was not tough enough on employers.

There was also anger from the Labour left, who say the party leadership used a veto power over policies it did not approve of. These included the introducti­on of free school meals for all primary school children and the scrapping of the two-child benefit cap.

We also know the Liberal Democrat manifesto will be published today, accompanie­d by, presumably, Sir Ed Davey doing something that looks funny on camera. The Greens’ is coming on Wednesday.

However, while there is no set date for the Tory manifesto, it is expected to be published on tomorrow.

Given Labour’s is already set, expect Tory HQ to focus on Labour’s finances, and publish their own shortly after.

As for what’s in it, the Conservati­ves

In an early blow to Sir Keir Starmer, Unite has refused to endorse the manifesto

may look to abolish National Insurance, with the Prime minister saying this was a long-term goal.

The week should also see the resurgence of Mr Sunak, who has been in hiding since his apology for leaving the D-day event early.

Since then, there have been reports he was never going to attend at all, as well as widespread­anger from his own colleagues, including ministers.

More than one MP told The Scotsman he would be gone outside an election, a rumour former cabinet minister Nadine Dorries encouraged, saying she’d heard he was to “fall on his sword”.

While this is nonsense, it telling that the Work and Pensions secretary, Mel Stride, was forced to deny Mr Sunak could quit before the July 4 election. “He has recognised that he made a mistake and he deeply regrets that, he has apologised unequivoca­lly,” Mr Stride told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips.

That this question is even being asked at all shows the febrile atmosphere in the Tory party, and echoes the situation of Gordon Brown, who did consider resigning after his “bigoted woman” moment in April 2010.

In a further concern for Mr Sunak, even Lord Cameron is seemingly briefing against him, reportedly saying “there is only so much I can do” when asked why he didn’t stop him leaving early. Ensuring this anger doesn’t spill into next week is crucial for the Prime Minister.

One place we will see Mr Sunak is in an interview with Panorama, doing an extended sit-down. The same format will see John Swinney, Sir Keir, Nigel Farage, and Plaid’s Rhun ap Iorwerth interviewe­d in the same week.

If you like leaders arguing, this week is going to be an absolute delight, with debates aplenty.

Tomorrow sees the leaders of the main five Scottish parties face off on BBC One, while on Wednesday, Sky News have a leaders’ event from Grimsby, where Sir Keir and Mr Sunak will be interviewe­d in depth and then face questions from an audience.

If that’s not enough, ITV on Thursday has a a 7-way leaders debate. Then on Friday, Scotland face Germany in the opening match of the Euros, which should guarantee a lot of tweets from politician­s, including those not into football.

Then there is Mr Farage, a man once again standing for parliament, and absolutely terrifying the Tories. Not all of them however, with both Priti Patel and Jacob Rees-mogg spending the weekend suggesting he would

be welcome in the Tory party, and perhaps even one day hold high office.

The Reform leader has a press conference today, where he will be in buoyant mood with some polls showing his party within the margin of error of the same polling as the Tories.

Away from the manifesto, the Labour party is seemingly striving to do as little as possible, and let the election take care of itself. One MP told The Scotsman the focus had to be on the disaster caused by the Tories, while another suggested they shouldn’t risk doing too much, and at this stage, it was just about not making mistakes.

 ?? ?? Rishi Sunak during a visit to Big Help Out project in Bishop Auckland, County Durham. .Lord Cameron, right, reportedly said ‘there is only so much I can do’
Rishi Sunak during a visit to Big Help Out project in Bishop Auckland, County Durham. .Lord Cameron, right, reportedly said ‘there is only so much I can do’
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