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Campaign highlights: Farage delivers the old one-two as Rees-Mogg criticised

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer also flexed his muscles during the campaigning.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage climbs into the ring (Jacob King/PA)
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage climbs into the ring (Jacob King/PA)

By PA Reporters

The General Election campaign began in earnest on Tuesday with the main parties trading blows over Brexit and Jacob Rees-Mogg being criticised by, among others, Stormzy.

As Boris Johnson gears up to launch the Tory campaign on Wednesday, Tuesday saw Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson rule out propping up a Labour government if the election delivers another hung Parliament and Jeremy Corbyn declaring he wanted to get Brexit “sorted” within six months if his party came to power.

Here are some of the highlights:

Sir Keir Starmer is the real mighty man of Brexit

Boris Johnson may have (rashly) boasted that, like the Incredible Hulk, he would break out of the “manacles” of the EU if they would not let him leave by Halloween. But it seems the shadow Brexit secretary may be the real muscle in the argument. Like Clark Kent, the studious former public prosecutor is ready to channel his inner superhero – at least according to Mr Corbyn. The Labour leader said his man would, literally, tear up the PM’s Brexit deal if Labour win the election – all 110 pages of it. “It’s quite a substantial document but Keir is a strong fella, it will be no problem whatsoever,” he declared.

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Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking in Harlow (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

There really isn’t a Kremlin mole in No 10

As politicians prepare to hit the election trail, there has been an outbreak of spy fever in Westminster. MPs have accused No 10 of sitting on a report into Russian meddling in UK elections, with Labour’s Emily Thornberry asking darkly whether Boris Johnson’s resident Machiavelli, Dominic Cummings, had “unredacted access to top secret intelligence”. That prompted a stern rebuke from Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. “The insinuation that Number 10 is somehow in the grip of a Kremlin mole is frankly ridiculous even by the standards of the ‘loony left’,” he admonished.

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Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Justine Greening won’t miss the whips

The final day in the Commons for departing MPs, and it seems some – but not all – will be glad to see the back of Westminster’s system for maintaining party discipline. During valedictory speeches in the chamber, former Tory chief enforcer Sir Patrick McLoughlin reminisced fondly about his time in the whips office, describing it as “the personnel department of any parliamentary party”. At which point Brexit rebel Justine Greening, who was punished by having the Tory whip withdrawn, cut in sharply, saying: “I always saw the whips’ office as a human resources department – but with the human bit taken out.”

It wasn’t like this in the old days

Father of the House Ken Clarke, also stepping down after almost half a century, recalled that when he began at Westminster, MPs were scarcely troubled by their constituents. Free postage and stationery for MPs had just been introduced, but, he told the PA news agency, most did not use it. “We got very few letters,” he said. “We now all have large staffs and mountains of mail and emails and everything else, and you’re really the equivalent of the Citizens Advice bureau.”

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Ken Clarke in the House of Commons on his last day as an MP after 49 years (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Jo Swinson is prepared to engage with Donald Trump – carefully

The Liberal Democrat leader is not known as a fan of the US president – her predecessor Sir Vince Cable even boycotted the state banquet for him at Buckingham Palace. But, pressed at her campaign launch, she said she “wouldn’t refuse to engage with Donald Trump” – albeit warily. There was, she added, “a big difference between having a relationship and engaging, and rolling out the red carpet”.

Tweet of the day

Rapper Stormzy left Jacob Rees-Mogg in absolutely no doubt how he felt following the Leader of the House’s comments on the Grenfell Tower fire. Mr Rees-Mogg apologised after saying it would have been “common sense” for victims to ignore official advice and flee the burning building.

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Picture of the day

Nigel Farage, who donned a pair of boxing gloves and pretended to punch cameras on a visit to Bolsover Boxing Club in Derbyshire, said he and his party would “stand for Brexit if (Boris Johnson) doesn’t really want to”.

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Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage at Bolsover Boxing Club (Jacob King/PA)

Video of the day

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon is clearly a believer in her party’s chances as she joined folk singers in Dalkeith, Midlothian, for a cover of a classic by The Monkees.

What’s next?

  • Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are both expected to campaign in the Midlands
  • Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson will be a health-related visit in London
  • Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage will be in Cumbria to meet “Workington man”
  • Parliament is now officially dissolved so ex MPs can now begin campaigning in full swing
  • The Green Party will launch its campaign in Bristol

 

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