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5 December 2019

Boris Johnson’s 100-day pledge suggests the Conservatives are running scared

It's hard to read these incoherent promises without concluding that the Tories’ polling puts them at or near the danger zone.

By Stephen Bush

Getting nervous? Boris Johnson has pledged to pass the withdrawal agreement into law, to enshrine into law his promise to increase NHS funding by £33.9bn by 2023, and to cut taxes in February.

All this while pledging to keep income tax, national insurance and value added tax flat or falling, to leave the European Union’s customs union and single market, and to sign a US-UK trade deal that leaves the NHS and British agricultural standards unchanged – while also reducing the size of the United Kingdom’s debt pile by the end of the parliament. I would say “something doesn’t add up here”, but it’s more accurate to say that nothing adds up here.

You simply can’t fund something that looks remotely like our economic model while forgoing the benefits of our membership of the single market and customs union and replacing them with the benefits of a London NFL franchise.

The Conservatives’ private polling isn’t any more likely to be right than the publicly available polling, but it’s hard not to look at these incoherent promises and conclude that their polling probably looks more like that suggested by ICM and Survation – putting the Conservatives at or near the danger zone where they finish first in the popular vote but fail to win a parliamentary majority – than the blow-out win suggested by IpsosMori, ComRes and YouGov. In either case, the trend – of Labour growth at the Liberal Democrats’ expense nationwide, which all parties think is the result of Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters seeking to maximise the effectiveness of their anti-Tory vote – would be keeping me awake at night in CCHQ.

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