Sunday 17 November 2019

Former PM Tony Blair and wife Cherie join UK General Election fray to back Labour

Press Association

Tony and Cherie Blair are joining the General Election fray today to back Labour, with the former Prime Minister warning a second term for David Cameron risks economic chaos and endangers the British national interest.

Mr Cameron is to visit all the countries of the United Kingdom in one day, starting in Scotland before heading for Northern Ireland, Wales and England.

The Tory leader made an appeal for Ukip voters to "come home" to the Conservatives in order to avoid an Ed Miliband government. And he issued a brutal retort to Liberal Democrat claims to have instigated rises to the personal tax allowance and ensured the rich shared in austerity - dismissing them as "noises off" from a "minor party".

Labour's focus today will be health, with claims almost 600 fewer GP surgeries are offering extended opening hours to patients and using the figures to launch a new poster campaign dubbed "The doctor can't see you now".

A crackdown on tax dodgers will help fund a rise in the personal allowance to £12,500 under Liberal Democrat plans, and Nigel Farage will expand on Ukip's commitment to spend 2% of gross domestic product on defence and call for a dedicated veterans minister to be appointed.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood will launch their campaign, pushing for a genuine living wage, the scrapping of Trident and an increase of 1% of gross domestic product in infrastructure spending across the UK - saying her party is fighting this election on a platform of several policies that would not only benefit Wales but the UK as a whole.

And in Scotland, the leaders of the four main political parties will go head to head in a television debate tonight.

Events today include David Cameron in Edinburgh, Northern Ireland, Wales and Cornwall, Ed Miliband in Bristol, a Liberal Democrat press conference in London and Nigel Farage is visiting the Black Country and Wales. Words, pictures and video planned.

Tony Blair is speaking in his former constituency of Sedgefield, to warn that Cameron's appeasement of right wing Tories and Ukip is pushing Britain toward Europe's exit door which would create job insecurity and leave a "pall of unpredictability hanging over the British economy".

Mr Blair's appearance, alongside his wife Cherie, will be the first in a series of campaign stops over the coming days.

In his speech, Mr Blair is expected to say: "I believe passionately that leaving Europe would leave Britain diminished in the world, do significant damage to our economy and, less obviously but just as important to our future, would go against the very qualities and ambitions that mark us out still as a great global nation."

And he will add: "And the oddest thing of all about David Cameron's position? The PM doesn't really believe we should leave Europe; not even the Europe as it is today.

"This was a concession to party, a manoeuvre to access some of the Ukip vote, a sop to the rampant anti-Europe feeling of parts of the media. This issue, touching as it does the country's future, is too important to be traded like this."

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