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Al Murray announces he's running against Farage in South Thanet

"Let it be known, like many of the parliamentary hopefuls in the upcoming election, I have no idea where South Thanet is. But did that stop Margaret Thatcher from saving the Falkland Islands? No."

Stand-up comedian Al Murray has today announced - in character as the ironically-xenophobic Pub Landlord - that he's going to be running for MP in South Thanet, against another "bloke waving a pint around, offering common sense solutions". In a party political broadcast on behalf of "FUKP" (the "Free the United Kingdom Party"), he said:

That is why I am here to announce my intention to run for election as member of parliament for the constituency of South Thanet. Let it be known, like many of the parliamentary hopefuls in the upcoming election, I have no idea where South Thanet is. But did that stop Margaret Thatcher from saving the Falkland Islands? No.

I will not at any point try to reach out to you. Ugh. I will not be offering the nation a conversation. Who wants to talk to politicians? Nobody normal. I'm not going to pretend you're my friends either. No. The reason I'm standing is because the system is broken. We all know it is. You hear people saying you shouldn't vote. Well, you should vote, you should vote boys and girls, and you should vote for me."

He's offering a bunch of "common sense policies for common sense people", including:

  • "1p a pint" and "1p a glass of wine (fruit-based drink for the ladies) too".
  • The pound will be revalued as being worth £1.10.
  • People turning up at A&E when it's not an accident or an emergency will "be sent to a random hospital department" to be treated instead. 
  • Deliberately making the UK "a whole lot worse" so that immigrants stop wanting to come to "the greatest nation on Earth".
  • Bricking up the Channel Tunnel. ("With British bricks, of course - but probably have to get some Poles in to do it. Common sense.").
  • School places allocated by "street raffle".
  • Alex Salmond to be made first minister of Norwich, "so he can understand what being ignored by the rest of the country is really like".
  • Pledging that the UK will leave Europe by 2025, and the Solar System by 2050.
  • National service, "but only for those who don't want to do it".

He concludes:

We in the FUKP don't claim to have all the answers, or, indeed, any of them. But what we do promise is we will save the British pub, fight the Germans (if they're up for it), and burn down the Houses of Parliament for the insurance.

The other parties are offering you the Moon on a stick. We can do better than that: a British Moon, on a British stick."

Murray's gigs are often popular with far-right nationalists who don't get that he's taking the piss out of them. Maybe he's banking on Ukip voters in South Thanet having the same problem in the polling booth in May. 

I'm a mole, innit.

Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Getty
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Jeremy Corbyn: “wholesale” EU immigration has destroyed conditions for British workers

The Labour leader has told Andrew Marr that his party wants to leave the single market.

Mass immigration from the European Union has been used to "destroy" the conditions of British workers, Jeremy Corbyn said today. 

The Labour leader was pressed on his party's attitude to immigration on the Andrew Marr programme. He reiterated his belief that Britain should leave the Single Market, claiming that "the single market is dependent on membership of the EU . . . the two things are inextricably linked."

Corbyn said that Labour would argue for "tarriff-free trade access" instead. However, other countries which enjoy this kind of deal, such as Norway, do so by accepting the "four freedoms" of the single market, which include freedom of movement for people. Labour MP Chuka Umunna has led a parliamentary attempt to keep Britain in the single market, arguing that 66 per cent of Labour members want to stay. The SNP's Nicola Sturgeon said that "Labour's failure to stand up for common sense on single market will make them as culpable as Tories for Brexit disaster".

Laying out the case for leaving the single market, Corbyn used language we have rarely heard from him - blaming immigration for harming the lives of British workers.

The Labour leader said that after leaving the EU, there would still be European workers in Britain and vice versa. He added: "What there wouldn't be is the wholesale importation of underpaid workers from central Europe in order to destroy conditions, particularly in the construction industry." 

Corbyn said he would prevent agencies from advertising jobs in central Europe - asking them to "advertise in the locality first". This idea draws on the "Preston model" adopted by that local authority, of trying to prioritise local suppliers for public sector contracts. The rules of the EU prevent this approach, seeing it as discrimination. 

In the future, foreign workers would "come here on the basis of the jobs available and their skill sets to go with it. What we wouldn't allow is this practice by agencies, who are quite disgraceful they way they do it - recruit a workforce, low paid - and bring them here in order to dismiss an existing workforce in the construction industry, then pay them low wages. It's appalling. And the only people who benefit are the companies."

Corbyn also said that a government led by him "would guarantee the right of EU nationals to remain here, including a right of family reunion" and would hope for a reciprocal arrangement from the EU for British citizens abroad. 

Matt Holehouse, the UK/EU correspondent for MLex, said Corbyn's phrasing was "Ukippy". 

Asked by Andrew Marr if he had sympathy with Eurosceptics - having voted against previous EU treaties such as Maastricht - Corbyn clarified his stance on the EU. He was against a "deregulated free market across Europe", he said, but supported the "social" aspects of the EU, such as workers' rights. However, he did not like its opposition to state subsidy of industry.

On student fees, Corbyn was asked "What did you mean by 'I will deal with it'?". He said "recognised" that graduates faced a huge burden from paying off their fees but did not make a manifesto commitment to forgive the debt from previous years. However, Labour would abolish student debt from the time it was elected. Had it won the 2017 election, students in the 2017/18 intake would not pay fees (or these would be refunded). 

The interview also covered the BBC gender pay gap. Corbyn said that Labour would look at a gender pay audit in every company, and a pay ratio - no one could receive more than 20 times the salary of the lowest paid employee. "The BBC needs to look at itself . . . the pay gap is astronomical," he added. 

He added that he did not think it was "sustainable" for the government to give the DUP £1.5bn and was looking forward to another election.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.