Friday briefing: Free broadband or a high street revival?

The Guardian 0 month ago

Good morning and welcome to your morning wrap of the news. The parties have rolled out some eye-catching election pledges. Our live coverage of the day’s political news is up and running. In other news, impeachment procedures against Donald Trump are picking up pace.

What’s going on?

Both parties have rolled out big-spending and, they hope, crowd-pleasing election pledges as we come to the end of a second week of campaigning. The Conservatives are offering a package to revitalise neglected towns, while Labour is promising free full-fibre broadband for homes and businesses.

Boris Johnson says a Tory government would spend hundreds of millions of pounds reviving dying high streets and struggling communities. It includes discounts on business rates, rate relief for pubs, money to reopen train stations and a £150m fund to help groups trying to take over and run pubs and post offices threatened with closure. Labour has criticised the proposal, saying the Conservatives are the ones responsible for destroying high streets and towns through “a decade of vicious cuts to the services that people on our communities rely on”.

Meanwhile Labour is promising free full-fibre broadband for every home and business by partly nationalising BT. Jeremy Corbyn will outline the plan during a speech in Lancaster, saying: “What was once a luxury is now an essential utility.” The plan, estimated to cost around £20bn, will be funded partly by high taxes on internet companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google. The Conservatives criticised the policy, saying it was a “fantasy plan to effectively nationalise broadband [that] would cost hardworking taxpayers tens of billions”.

The drama around deals between parties continues to roil. Nigel Farage has attacked the Conservative party after it was claimed that senior Brexit party figures – including Ann Widdecombe – had been offered post-election roles or peerages as part of an attempt to get him to stand down more candidates at the general election. Farage said it showed “the system is corrupt and broken”.

Nigel Farage looks out from a window on the Kestrel crabbing boat in Grimsby fish dock. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

At a glance

The day ahead

  • Jeremy Corbyn will be announcing his broadband plan in a speech on digital infrastructure in Lancaster this morning.

  • Boris Johnson will launch his campaign bus in Oldham at lunchtime.

  • The Lib Dems go to Leeds, where Ed Davey will be giving a speech in the afternoon on economics.

  • And there is a big question mark hanging over the Brexit party’s campaign events today. There is meant to be a launch in Dudley for their candidate but it’s unclear if that will go ahead – given the candidate has pulled out of the seat.

Best of the rest

> Donald Trump’s fixer Rudy Giuliani has said to the Guardian in an apparent joke that he has good “insurance” if Donald Trump throws him under a bus in the impeachment process. Today, investigators are due to hear from Marie Yovanovitch, sacked by Trump as ambassador to Ukraine, who has said state department colleagues were too scared of the president to fight her corner. Nancy Pelosi says Trump committed “bribery” as Democrats change up their language about the impeachment.

> Taylor Swift says her former managers are stopping her performing her old hits at this year’s American music awards.

Taylor Swift. Photograph: Rick Scuteri/Invision/AP

Swift is due to receive the artist of the decade award at the AMAs but says she has been told by Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta – with whom she does not get along – that doing any of the songs from the time she was contracted to them would amount to re-recording them, which she is not allowed to do until next year.

> Researchers have found some people have more reason to doubt their ancestry than others, especially if they are descended from city-dwelling labourers and weavers of the Industrial Revolution. Over the past 500 years, births from extramarital couplings were as low as half a percent for farmers and the rural middle and upper classes – but reached a peak of nearly 6% among the working classes and the poor in the densely populated cities of the 19th century.

Today in Focus podcast: Hartlepool or bust for Farage

Anushka Asthana visits the historically Labour-held seat of Hartlepool in north-east England that is the Brexit party’s top target in the general election. Plus: Sonia Sodha on how flooding in the north of England has affected the campaign.

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Regional rappers J1, Aitch and Trillary Banks. Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

Sport

Raheem Sterling threw his support behind Joe Gomez after the defender was booed by the Wembley crowd as England secured their place at Euro 2020 with a 7-0 victory over Montenegro. Roger Federer produced a breathless exhibition of serving and aggression to reach the semi-finals of the ATP Finals with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Novak Djokovic in London. British Cycling and Team Sky kept a stock of Viagra for riders in a cabinet because riding for so long gave them “nerve issues”, Dr Richard Freeman’s medical tribunal has been told. And Lewis Hamilton has said he wants to play a fundamental part in Formula One’s ambitious and radical plans to address the climate emergency.

Business

Asian markets brushed off the latest Hong Kong protests and rose sharply after White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the US and China were “close” on a trade deal. However, the damage in Hong Kong might reverberate for some time, with profits at Burberry and Cathay Pacific hit by the unrest. The FTSE100 looks set to jump 0.33% at the open while the pound is at $1.288 and €1.168.

The papers

The front-page pic in the Times goes to Boris Johnson holding a bunny at a primary school, but the splash is “Labour vows billions to nationalise broadband” – or as the i puts it, “free broadband for everyone”.

Guardian front page, Friday 15 November 2019.

“Tax cuts to put heart back into Britain” – that’s the Express on Boris Johnson’s plan to revive the flagging high street. Metro reports on “Worst A&E waits ever” – no full stops though. The Mirror’s tone on that topic is sharper, as you might expect: “BETRAYED” splashed full width across a picture of a veteran who was left lying on a hospital trolley for 10 hours – “NHS implodes under Tories” says a strap across the top.

The jubilant smile of freed Manus Island detainee Behrouz Boochani lights up the Guardian’s front page. Our splash is “Corbyn’s nationalisation pledge to deliver free broadband for all”. In the Telegraph, “Farage accuses No 10 of dirty tricks” – the Brexit party leader unhappy at how his strategising is playing out, after he stood candidates aside for the Tories and they declined to reciprocate. The Mail has gone through social media and assembled a front page of tear-out quotes of people who are now Labour candidates saying bad things about Corbyn in the past: “Condemned by his own candidates” is the headline. “Who dared won” is the Sun’s splash, about an SAS hero who “saved hundreds” by killing two terrorists in a Nairobi hotel siege. In the FT, cynicism greets a move by Google in the privacy wars: “Google plan to lock down user data draw fire from advertisers”.

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