The five things you need to know on Tuesday June 14, 2016…
1) SALMOND FISHING FOR BORIS
Tonight’s the night. Our Telegraph-HuffPost-YouTube #EUdebate starts at 7pm, live (and live streamed) from the Google studios in central London. Boris Johnson and Priti Patel for Leave are up against Alex Salmond and Liz Kendall for Remain. Watch it HERE later.
For all the political capital he has used up among some of his previous allies and admirers, Boris is proving a popular face of the Brexiteer camp, used virtually every day on TV for his ‘call-and-response’ speeches (‘Are we going to believe these scare stories, folks?’ ‘No!’). Boris is box office, whatever your view of this battle. And with Labour still trying to clarify its own message, Salmond will want to do what Sturgeon did last week and prove a more effective Remainer for the Left. Boris may even come clean on the record about his alleged use of sun-in - but will he suggest George Osborne's hair colour is as artificial as his economic warnings of post-Brexit armageddon?
As for the polls, the YouGov/Times gives Leave a 7 point lead, while the ICM/Guardian gives them a 6 point lead. In both, the direction of travel is not good for the Remainiacs. As I said last week, it may be that the Outers have timed their run perfectly, focusing on the last lap of this long race, when most of the public are beginning to listen. But beware the ‘shy Remainers’ phenomenon too - elections analyst Robert Hayward cautions that they may be being missed in some polls.
Patel, who has been used effectively by the Leavers, this morning pointed to new research by Vote Leave showing how EU officials “are often living a life of luxury at our expense”. Trips to luxury resorts, flights on private jets and Caribbean cruises are all highlighted. It will be a tense Cabinet meeting this morning (possibly the last before the big day), that's for sure...
Lead by James Cleverley, sixteen 2015 intake Tory MPs from the Fresh Start Project have written a HuffPost blog on why quitting the EU is the best way to restore democratic control for the UK.
2) EU ARE MY SUN SHINE
The Remain camp tried to put a bit of sunshine in their message yesterday (the only problem being that the upbeat message was delivered by a typically tetchy and dour Gordon Brown). Today, the BeLeavers have the Sun newspaper on board, with a front page splash backing Brexit.
That will surprise few, but it nevertheless is a huge coup for the Out camp to have Britain’s best selling paper on its side. What’s interesting is just how confident newspapers now are to back the leave side in editorial columns. Only a few months ago, some in No.10 believed few paper proprietors would want to be on the wrong side of public opinion or the wrong side of an economic shock that could harm their business interests.
Trevor Kavanagh told Today that the for last 40 years two thirds of the papers readers have been “on the Eurosceptic side of the argument”. When asked if Rupert Murdoch had made the big judgement call, Trevor said bluntly: “the decision was made by the Editor”. Ex-Sun Editor David Yelland (seen by many Sun staff as never really one of them) has tweeted that the front page’s “anti-German sentiment is beneath us as a country”.
Of course it’s not leader columns that matter as much as news stories. Alex Salmond pointed out to myself and Chris Hope yesterday that the real problem for Cameron is that newspapers which once carried Project Fear stories in the indyref and 2015 election just aren’t carrying them now. “Much of the negativity has been like a car without a crankshaft. The engine’s been whirring but nothing’s happening because the transmission mechanism is on the other side,” Salmond said.
3) SHADOW BOXING
The full Shadow Cabinet will become a campaign vehicle for the Remain side today as Jeremy Corbyn leads a photocall with his colleagues alongside trade unionists. The message is meant to be loud and clear: Corbyn and Labour want us In the EU. But more than that it’s finally picked up a unifying theme that Angela Eagle first road-tested on ITV last week. Labour is about jobs (the clue is in the name, after all). And jobs are at risk from Brexit, they warn.
At the PLP last night Hillary Benn made another rallying call to the troops (his well-received speech earlier in the day can be seen HERE). Benn urged every Labour MP to get out and spend the last few days on the stump persuading sceptical Labour voters.
And the ORB/Telegraph poll offers a glimmer of hope for the In camp. It has Remain ahead by 49% to 44% for Leave, when all voters - rather than those most certain to vote - are taken into account. Getting out the vote will prove crucial, even more so on a summer’s day next Thursday.
Ed Balls, meanwhile, underlines the tensions within Labour with his Mirror piece. He is a strong Remainer but says “We need to press Europe to restore proper borders, and put new controls on economic migration”. Not quite the message from his old boss Gordon yesterday, who suggested it was somehow a BBC and Sun agenda to raise immigration.
Remain strategists reckon that at least two-thirds of Labour voters have to back their cause for them to win on June 23 - yet some polls show half of them aren’t sure what the party’s stance is. That’s an epic failure of messaging, however you look at it. In her excellent Times column, Rachel Sylvester quotes on Labour MP thus: “There’s a rupture between the metropolitan, liberal wing and the traditional, working-class base. The Tory splits are Westminster high politics but the Labour ones are a shifting of the tectonic plates.”
And if Labour needed any more distractions, here comes Ken Livingstone before the Home Affairs Committee at 2pm to discuss his favourite topic: anti-semitism.
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR…
Watch this Mercedes driver intentionally blocking this ambulance in an emergency. Some people…
4) ORLANDO SOLIDARITY
The overnight news from the US is that gunman Omar Mateen regularly visited the gay nightclub where he massacred 49 people, and had used a gay dating website. A picture is emerging of a man who appeared conflicted about his sexuality, whose wife says beat her, who was bipolar with a history of mental illness problems. Throw into that his radicalisation online and easy access to assault weapons and you can see the similarities and differences with other ‘lone wolf’ cases.
Last night outside Parliament, Chris Bryant and John Nicholson held a vigil for the victims, but it was in Soho later that the big crowds turned out. Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson were both there too.
But the politics are never far away. And Trump has revived and refined his Muslim ban plans to say he would ban all Muslims “from areas where there is a proven history of terrorism”. I’m guessing he means the UK as much as elsewhere. But given the home-grown US radical problem, will he ban American Muslims from travelling into their own country?
The Telegraph reveals this morning that Australia is urgently reviewing the visa of a British Islamic scholar who toured Orlando earlier this year and had preached in 2013 that "death is the sentence" for homosexual acts.
The perils of mixing politics with the massacre were clear yesterday as Theresa May took time out in the Commons to condemn leave.eu’s latest ad featuring Kalashnikovs and trying to exploit the massacre for a pro-Brexit cause. Even Farage was forced to condemn it, saying a ‘junior’ office member was responsible.
5) HEE-HEE CUMMINGS
The FT has an excellent news feature on Dom Cummings, the man behind the Vote Leave campaign. It reveals that he personally changed the early message from ‘Vote Leave, Get Change’ to ‘Vote Leave, Take Control’, and insisted on a no-colloboration with the Kipper-dominated leave.eu camp. Much criticised for his caustic approach, will ex-Gove adviser Cummings have the last laugh in this whole referendum?
The FT piece highlights the way Vote Leave uses social media to amplify the TV debates. Its online video, made with the help of Canadian video editors, includes the classic “You can’t trust David Cameron on Turkey,” clip - now shared 10,000 times on Facebook. And Facebook matters so much more than Twitter in this battle - that’s why the Remain camp have piled up ads there in recent days, just as the Tories did in the last election. The problem is that Leave’s key target audience is working-class Labour voters who don’t trust Cameron.
Another 36-second video showing a man attacking the PM on the migration issue during the ITV debate has been viewed 1.4m times on Facebook - not bad when compared with 4m people who watched the programme live.
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