The five things you need to know on Thursday, May 18…
This morning's fully costed Waugh Zone is by Ned Simons. Paul is away.
The Conservative Party, sorry, Team Theresa, launches its manifesto in Yorkshire morning. Her battle bus may have broken down last night, but from what we know so far of the manifesto, it seems like the prime minister is going somewhere.
Winter fuel payments will be means-tested in order to help fund health and social care. Elderly people can have £100,000 in assets before they are asked to pay towards their care but this now includes the value of their homes. No one will have to sell their house to pay for care - until they die. Andy Burnham said when he proposed something similar it was dubbed a "death tax". Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning, health secretary Jeremy Hunt rejected that claim. "No tax is going up before people die or after people die," he said. "It’s not a tax. Labour’s proposal was to increase inheritance tax."
The pensions triple-lock, which guarantees that state pensions rise each year by whichever is the highest out of the consumer price index, average earnings or 2.5 per cent, is axed. The tax lock, which committed the government not to raise income tax, VAT or national insurance contributions, is also binned. The target of keeping immigration below 100,000, which has not ever been met, will be kept. Hunt said the cabinet was "completely united" behind the target. But George Osborne used an editorial in the Evening Standard to claim "none of its senior members supports the pledge".
Universal free school meals will stop. The policy was a Lib Dem favourite in the coalition government. And the party says while "Margaret Thatcher was know as the 'milk snatcher'. Theresa May will go down as the lunch snatcher."
Michael Gove is doing the rounds on TV this morning to defend the prime minister's agenda. Asked if he was hoping for a cabinet comeback, he told Sky News: "I'm always ready to do anything in the name of public service"
Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson writes for HuffPost this morning. "As Prime Minister, she mustn’t be allowed to get away with publishing a fictional manifesto that nobody reads," he says. "The Tories can’t be allowed to float through their manifesto launch untouched. Just two years ago they made a series of impossible promises and got away with it. Now they want to do it again."
"Forward, Together," is the name of the manifesto. Do subscribe to our Commons People podcast. This week's episode, out later today, has a quiz about historic manifesto names.
2) LIB DEM DISCO
The Lib Dems held their manifesto launch party last night. Party activists filing into the the venue in east London were greeted by sweeping disco lights and a (pay) bar. The UK's Eurovision entry, Never Give Up On You by Lucie Jones, was played loudly as Tim Farron made his way to the stage. The Lib Dem leader gave his pro-EU speech standing on a platform painted with half a British flag and half an EU flag. Do read The Independent's Tim Peck's review of night. Yet despite the prediction of a Remainer-fuelled surge, the party appears to be struggling to make a significant dent in the national polls. Farron's views on social issues are under the spotlight again. He has been forced to defend his views on abortion. In a 2007 interview he said: “Take the issue of abortion. Personally I wish I could argue it away. Abortion is wrong.". He now says: “I am pro-choice. I believe that abortion should be safe and legal and that the limit should be set by science.”
This evening at 8pm ITV holds its first general election TV debate. The leaders of the SNP, Lib Dems, Ukip, Plaid Cymru and the Greens will all be there. But there will be no Theresa May and no Jeremy Corbyn. Instead, The Guardian reports, the Conservatives and Labour will send spin doctors to push their party messages to journalists in the room.
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR…Ed Miliband reading out bingo numbers.
4) BORIS' BOOZE BLUNDER
The worshipper who stood up to Boris Johnson after his reference to alcohol in a Sikh temple has branded him “ignorant”. Balbir Kaur, 62, hit out at the Foreign Secretary over his remarks on Wednesday about free trade of alcohol with India during a visit to a Gurdwara in Bristol, which was described as a “sensational gaffe”. Speaking after the incident on Wednesday evening, the grandmother said: “How can Boris Johnson help the Sikhs? He can’t help them. The Tories are the ones that sent spies to bomb the Golden Temple, now they are trying to kill them by pouring drink in. Sikhs who vote for him are ignorant of their own religion. They don’t know about the history of their ancestors.”
5) TRUMP'S RUSSIA TIES TARGETD
One week after President Donald Trump fired the head of the FBI and raised fears about the future of the agency’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, the US Department of Justice has appointed a widely admired former FBI director to lead an independent inquiry. The newly named special counsel, Robert Mueller, was James Comey’s predecessor as FBI director. He and Comey drew widespread attention, and admiration, in an infamous showdown during the George W. Bush administration.
Trump himself last night said "no politician in history" has "been treated worse or more unfairly" than he has. Which seems easily disprovable given there have been about twenty attempts to kill a sitting US president. And four have been assassinated.
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