Tory election manifesto ‘will include PM’s Brexit pledges’ to stifle rebellion
20 April 2017
Theresa May will reportedly include her Brexit negotiating priorities in the Conservative General Election manifesto to lock Remain-backing Tory MPs and the House of Lords into backing her stance.
The manifesto will include guarantees to end the free movement of European Union citizens, to leave the European single market, and to end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, according to the Daily Mail.
Including the pledges in the manifesto would make it extremely difficult for Remain-backing Tory MPs to rebel on the issues in House of Commons votes if the party wins the snap election on June 8 and as exit talks go on.
Peers would also be forced to back the priorities under the Salisbury Convention, which means that the Lords will not try and vote down government plans mentioned in an election manifesto.
Mrs May could also be ready to ditch promises made in David Cameron's 2015 general election manifesto, such as the commitment to spending 0.7% of national income on foreign aid.
As the PM hinted she may be ready to drop the pledge, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates urged her to stick to the target, which was put into law with the backing of the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition in 2015.
Downing Street refused to comment on the manifesto before it is published.
But a Number 10 source dismissed separate reports that Mrs May will offer a concession over including students in the immigration target as part of efforts to get remaining legislation through Parliament before it finishes ahead of the election.
The Prime Minister's decision to hold a snap vote has left just days to get outstanding Bills passed before Parliament ends to allow the nation to go to the polls.
According to the Times she will offer a “regulatory compromise” in how the number of overseas students in the UK is calculated so she can get the Higher Education and Research Bill through the Commons before the election, amid the threat of a backbench rebellion on the issue.
But the source said: “Any suggestion we are going to change our approach to the inclusion of overseas students in the migration statistics is plain wrong.”
On Thursday, Mrs May will hold talks with Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, which will have to approve any final UK-EU Brexit deal.
The Prime Minister received a boost on Wednesday ahead of exit negotiations and for an election she is seeking to cast as a vote on Brexit, with US House of Representatives speaker Paul Ryan saying America stands ready to strike a free trade deal with the UK as soon as possible.
Jeremy Corbyn is resisting Mrs May’s efforts to make Britain’s exit from the EU the defining issue of the election, insisting the poll instead gives voters a chance to pass judgment on the Conservatives’ record on austerity and public spending cuts.
But Mr Corbyn is apparently facing an uphill struggle, with a fresh YouGov opinion poll for the Times giving the Tories a 24-point lead over Labour, despite his denial that his party’s defeat is a “foregone conclusion”.
In his first keynote speech of the campaign, Mr Corbyn will insist Labour can “change the direction of this election” by “putting the interests of the majority first”.
Gareth Fuller/PA Wire