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Brexit Bulletin: Brutal Verdict

Fergal O'Brien and Andrew Atkinson

Days to General Election: 14

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What’s Happening? Boris Johnson’s resounding poll lead piles on the misery for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Voters, be warned: A leading U.K. think tank offered a damning analysis of both the Conservative and Labour election pledges, cautioning that Britons should expect higher taxes post-election than either party has outlined.

In a brutal assessment of both manifestos for the Dec. 12 vote, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that “neither is a properly credible prospectus.” The two parties offer vastly different options for voters — you can explore the competing plans right here.

Corbyn is promising a generational shift in public spending along with sweeping nationalization plans, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives are presenting a more prudent approach, offering themselves up as the responsible alternative to Labour’s radical ideas.

All this came the morning after a much-anticipated poll put the Conservatives on track to win their biggest majority in more than three decades. The YouGov survey, which used a technique that stood up well in 2017, suggested the Tories would win 359 of the 650 seats in Parliament. That would be a gain of 42 on the last election, and a majority of 68. Labour would drop more than 50 seats to 211, the survey showed. 

There were caveats in the gloom for Labour: YouGov pointed to 30 seats it sees swinging to the Tories where the current margin is still less than 5%. Corbyn has two weeks to shift the momentum in those areas, which voted to leave the European Union and where he’s losing votes to Johnson’s pro-Brexit message.

Today’s Must-Reads

Party leaders (minus Johnson) will debate climate change on Channel 4 this evening. Slow news outlet Tortoise looks at what the manifestos say about the path to net-zero emissions. Is Jeremy Corbyn an antisemite? It no longer matters, Therese Raphael argues for Bloomberg Opinion. Labour’s Brexit plan is far more attractive than Boris Johnson’s, Martin Wolf writes in the Financial Times. “But do I trust Mr Corbyn’s Labour with my country? No.”

Brexit in Brief

Changing Tack | Labour will change its approach in Leave-voting areas in a bid to win over people who are skeptical about its Brexit policy, the BBC reports. The strategy will focus on trying to convince voters that Labour support for a new referendum is not a bid to remain in the EU “by the back door,” the BBC said.

Ghost of Columns Past | The prime minister came under fire for remarks made in columns published earlier in his career. Writing in the Spectator in 1995 he called single mothers “uppity and irresponsible” and working class men “feckless and hopeless.” The Guardian reported that in 1999 he wrote a diary piece in the Independent describing young people’s interest in money as “almost Nigerian.”

Sixteen-Year Low | Net migration to the U.K. from the EU fell to its lowest level since 2003 in the year through June, preliminary Office for National Statistics estimates published on Thursday show.

Bouncing Back? | U.K. house prices increased at their fastest pace in more than a year this month, according to Nationwide Building Society. Values rose 0.5% in November from October, the biggest advance since July 2018. U.K. housing activity has been undermined by the ongoing Brexit process since the 2016 referendum.

Cash Boost | Labour brought in £3.49 million ($4.5 million) in donations of more than £7,500 from Nov. 13-19, the Electoral Commission said. That compared to £2.97 million for the Conservatives, £2.25 million for the Brexit Party and £251,000 for the Liberal Democrats.

Winning Streak | The pound headed for a fourth month of gains against the euro, reflecting growing confidence in the market that the Conservative Party will be able to secure a majority. Sterling traded at €1.1735 on Thursday afternoon, meaning one euro costs about 85 pence.

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To contact the authors of this story: Fergal O'Brien in Zurich at fobrien@bloomberg.netAndrew Atkinson in London at a.atkinson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Adam Blenford at ablenford@bloomberg.net, Chris Kay

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