Thursday briefing: Lib Dems and Labour make equality pitch | World news

Good morning. One week down in this election campaign and already we have seen factions form and founder, promises of heavy spending and a long list of gaffes and scandals including some that have forced candidates to pull out of the race. Read the following and then follow our live coverage to ensure you don’t miss a thing.

What’s going on?

It is Equal Pay Day – when the average woman effectively stops earning for the year, taking into account a mean gender pay gap of 13.1%. The Lib Dems and Labour will use it to announce measures to tackle the gender pay gap. The Liberal Democrats have pledged to oblige bigger companies to publish data on employment levels by gender, as well as for BAME and LGBT staff, and would push for a law to end the so-called pink tax, whereby companies charge higher prices for fundamentally identical products such as razors or deodorants simply because they are marketed at women. Labour has pledged to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2030 through measures such as fines for organisations that fail to report on the subject.

This morning the Conservatives have promised to reduce overall migration if they win the general election. “We will reduce immigration overall while being more open and flexible to the highly skilled people we need, such as scientists and doctors,” said the home secretary, Priti Patel. She claimed immigration would “surge” if Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister, a claim Labour said came from the “make-believe research department”.

Boris Johnson has come under fire for his government’s slow response to the flooding across parts of England’s north and has declined to apologise, saying a huge amount of work was going on to help and compensate victims. The PM spent time in deluged regions of Yorkshire, the east Midlands and Lincolnshire on Wednesday.

Boris Johnson walks with Lt Col Tom Robinson from the Light Dragoons and Oliver Harmar, Yorkshire area director of the Environment Agency, during a visit to Stainforth.

Boris Johnson walks with Lt Col Tom Robinson from the Light Dragoons and Oliver Harmar, Yorkshire area director of the Environment Agency, during a visit to Stainforth. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images

Johnson has hit back at claims he is “in cahoots” with Nigel Farage. In a speech he said that in fact “the Sturgeon-Corbyn alliance would consign this country to months, if not years, of dither, delay, discord, division”. Corbyn said Labour was “not doing pacts, not doing deals” if it failed to win a majority in the election, rejecting suggestions fuelled by Sturgeon that he had privately agreed to support a second independence referendum in exchange for Scottish National party support. Instead, he challenged Sturgeon to support a minority Labour government.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, with SNP candidate for Edinburgh West Sarah Masson (left) on the campaign trail.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, with SNP candidate for Edinburgh West Sarah Masson (left) on the campaign trail. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

At a glance

The day ahead

  • Labour and the Lib Dems will be talking about their equalities policies.

  • The Brexit party is hosting events in Hull this morning and Grimsby tonight.

  • Jeremy Corbyn is still in Scotland, where he is trying to woo back former Labour voters.

Best of the rest

> Dozens of foreign students, mainland Chinese among them, have been urged to leave Hong Kong after more clashes left several people seriously injured. Several universities have emerged as battlegrounds with protesters trying to prevent police storming the campuses. Student Elina Neverdal Hjoennevaag told the Norwegian broadcaster NRK they were being sent to a hotel: “I don’t really know what is happening. I must pack.”

> Almost 30% of people in England are now obese, according to analysis by Diabetes UK. That’s 13 million people – almost double the number 20 years ago. Caroline Cerny from the Obesity Health Alliance said: “Our food environment has become increasingly flooded with calorific and sugary processed food and we are now paying the price with our health.” The surge in obesity is straining the NHS because more patients need care for related conditions such as cancers, heart attacks, strokes and knee replacements – as well as type 2 diabetes.

> A bioplastic made of organic fish waste that normally goes to landfill has landed its designer the £30,000 James Dyson award.

Lucy Hughes with a sheet of MarinaTex

Lucy Hughes with a sheet of MarinaTex. Photograph: Dyson

Lucy Hughes, 24, a graduate in product design from the University of Sussex, came up with MarinaTex as a way to tackle environmentally harmful single-use plastics. The material is translucent and strong, and breaks down in home compost or food waste bins within four to six weeks.

Today in Focus podcast: Is Scotland moving towards independence?

Scotland correspondent Libby Brooks tells Rachel Humphreys how the chaos of Brexit has put independence back at centre stage in this election. Plus: Sayeeda Warsi on the Conservative party’s enduring problem of Islamophobia.

Today in Focus

Scottish independence centre stage again

Lunchtime read: ‘Live life colourfully’

In a world laid low by Brexit, you see them at school gates and in supermarket queues: ordinary women with wildly multicoloured hair. Sirin Kale asks five colour converts why they have taken the leap.

Amina Mucciolo with coloured hair

Amina Mucciolo and her rainbow locks. Photograph: Amina Mucciolo


England manager Gareth Southgate has said he “has to stand up and be accountable” after the canteen clash between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez, and says his youthful team are ready for Montenegro. Rafael Nadal, the world No 1, admitted he was “super lucky” after he came back from 5-1 and a match point down to beat Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Finals in London. Shane Sutton, the former head coach of British Cycling and Team Sky, has refused to return to Dr Richard Freeman’s medical tribunal despite efforts to persuade him to change his mind after he stormed out on Tuesday.

Saracens will begin their defence of the European Champions Cup at Racing 92 on Sunday without most of their England World Cup players, but Alex Lozowski warned that they were in no mood to surrender a trophy they have won in three of the last four seasons. Arsène Wenger has taken up a new role with Fifa as its chief of global football development, the game’s world governing body has announced. Alberto Salazar has issued a part-apology for any “callous or insensitive” comments about weight that he made to Mary Cain and other female athletes he coached at the Nike Oregon Project.


The slice of the economic pie taken by shareholders is growing more than six times faster than the serving enjoyed by workers, according to research by the TUC. Dividends and share buybacks paid out by companies grew 56% between 2014 and 2018 compared with wage increases of 8.8%. Weak economic data out of China overnight cast a shadow over Asian markets. The FTSE100 is poised to open flat today. The pound is at $1.284 and €1.167.

The papers

“PM: Brexit deal will unleash Britain’s potential” – in the Express, Boris Johnson’s speech gets the coverage he would have hoped for. The others cover divisions within and between the various parties and political movements.

Guardian front page, Thursday 14 November 2019.

Guardian front page, Thursday 14 November 2019.

The Guardian leads with “Backlash as union chief calls for Labour to curb free movement” – the leader in question being Len McCluskey of Unite, a key Corbyn backer. The Times opens proceedings with “Labour split over four-day week for NHS staff” whereas the Mail is in a state of “Fury over Corbyn Isis chief gaffe” after he said it would have been better if Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been arrested rather than meeting his death. The Telegraph reports on Johnson and the Brexit party’s continued haggling: “Tories offer Farage eleventh-hour deal” – it says Conservatives would stand only “paper” candidates in 40 key marginal seats.

“Tory wife’s revenge” is how the i treats sexting MP Andrew Griffiths being dislodged by his wife, Kate, who is divorcing him and has taken over the candidacy for his seat. The Mirror is giving away free trees and devotes its front page to a picture of newborn Baby Layton and the headline: “Give me a world I can grow up in”. The Metro’s splash headline is “Heckle and hide” as it records how both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn were harangued on the campaign trail. “Health websites share personal medical data with ad groups” – Google and Amazon being among the recipients, according to the FT. “Monster attacks prison guard – Huntley Meltdown” – that’s the Sun, which tells how the Soham murder “fiend” was put in solitary after cursing at one guard and kicking out at another.

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