The Conservative Party, led by PM Boris Johnson, says it will “Get Brexit done” while Labour says it will seek a referendum once the Withdrawal Agreement is passed by parliament.
The Conservative Party’s website tells the British public “We will put you first,” listing the party priorities as “Getting Brexit done. Investing in our public services and infrastructure. Supporting workers and families. Strengthening the Union. Unleashing Britain’s potential.”
The same site warns voters that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his would-be chancellor, John McDonnell – would be “propped up” by Scottish nationalist Nicola Sturgeon – leading “a Government which rejects everything that has made the UK great.”
The phrasing of criticism is reminiscent of US President Donald Trump’s campaign mantra “Make America Great Again”.
The Labour website bills its party manifesto as “the most radical, hopeful, people-focused, fully-costed plan in modern times.” The site goes on to say “This is our chance to tackle the climate emergency, to end food bank Britain and to rewrite the rules of the economy so it works for everyone – not just the billionaires.”
The Labour Party is more youth- and low-income-oriented than the Conservative Party, exemplified by its economic promises and the motto “Labour is on your side.”
Divorcing the European Union
“Getting Brexit done” is the campaign promise of the Conservative party. Leader and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, when introducing the manifesto, said “We’re going to get Brexit done, with a deal that is pre-cooked, ready to go, oven-ready as I keep saying, approved not just by our friends in the EU but by every single one of the 635 Conservative candidates standing at this election”.
Johnson’s plan is based on a Conservative majority government receiving approval for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill “before Christmas” and aims to get Brexit done “by the end of January” and “focus on the people’s priorities”, implying that Brexit is just an annoying hurdle to be gotten over with.
According to Full Fact, “the UK’s independent fact checking charity”, Johnson’s plan, while not incorrect, is simplistic. Full Fact says Brexit is “a process, not an event”, and that “the Brexit process will not be completed by January” as the Conservative manifesto claims.
Corbyn has called Johnson’s promises on Brexit “a fraud on the British people.” Full Fact says while Johnson is not engaging in fraud, it will indeed take longer to disassociate from the EU than the PM says it would.
The Labour Party proposes a revised Withdrawal Agreement, and says it is against a No Deal Brexit.
The centre-left party says it will go for a legally binding referendum once the Withdrawal Agreement is done, allowing voters to choose between the new deal with Europe or the option to remain in the bloc. According to Labour, this will happen “within the first six months of a Labour government.”
Johnson is in favour of a points-based system like the one in place in Australia. He also wants to make immigration to the UK more difficult, with the exception of doctors and nurses that the UK is in shortage of.
Corbyn is more generous with immigration benefits, protecting the rights of some three million EU citizens living in the UK, and offering an immigration system “based on the needs of the economy and communities and a flexible work visa system.” Corbyn also offers compensation for the victims of the Windrush scandal and no cap on net migration (the difference between the people coming to and leaving the UK).
Johnson has promised he will allow 50,000 nurses to enter the UK workforce, without specifying the dates, at a cost of £879 million in 2023/24. Full Fact has made its own calculations that contradicts the Conservative numbers, saying that many nurses would cost the National Health Service at least £2.6 billion.
Labour’s manifesto says “Our urgent priority is to end NHS privatisation”, and adds “Our mission is to create the conditions to prevent illness and enable people to live longer, healthier lives.”
Corbyn has warned that Johnson is “preparing to sell out our National Health Service for a United States trade deal that will drive up the cost of medicines and lead to the runaway privatisation of our health service.”
Full Fact, reporting that Johnson has denied Corbyn’s accusation, says “a trade deal is unlikely to fundamentally redesign the way the NHS is funded and American companies can already bid for private contracts to provide clinical services in England.”