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Monday's Business and Politics round-up

22 May 2017

Smart devices resting on a Business paper

IoD in the news

Sunday Telegraph - ‘This is both the best and worst time for women in the workplace’ says Lady Barbara Judge
The Guardian - Bridging the Tories' infrastructure gap
City AM -  IoD wants a new "early warning system" for area unemployment

Polled up short

The general rule of thumb when it comes to reading polls is that if a result looks interesting, it’s probably wrong. However, that rule tends to just apply to a single result. When you see a reel of numbers all pointing in the same direction, it may be time to start paying more attention.

With that in mind, it must have been an edgy weekend over at Tory High Command, with the first set of polls to be conducted since the release of their manifesto all showing Labour closing the gap on the Conservatives. Four separate polls conducted for the Sunday papers all showed the Tory lead dropping back, with a YouGov result showing the distance between the two parties reduced to single digits for the first time in the campaign. The results also suggest that Labour may be winning support away from the Tories (rather than smaller parties) for the first time.

The shift in the polls has been partially attributed to a back-lash against the Conservative plans for funding social care, which would involve stripping back the winter fuel allowance for wealthy pensioners. The plans would also require pensioners to fall back on the value of their homes (above £100,000) as collateral against their own care costs.

Opposition parties were quick to get on the front foot over the plans, with Jeremy Corbyn saying they risked starting ‘a war between the generations’. Labour also said they would protect pensioners against such ‘attacks’. Meanwhile, Tory big hitters like Boris Johnson and Damian Green were out on manoeuvres yesterday to confirm that changes will only come after extensive consultation. They’ll hope that - for now - that will be enough to stifle worried rumblings amongst the party faithful.

Talking the talk

Tough talk with Brussels still seems to be flavour over the month over at the Department for Exiting the European Union, with ministers adamant that the UK will not simply lie down and accept an £86bn bill as the price of a smooth exit. David Davis said that the talks would be plunged into crisis if the UK is asked to settle such a bill before getting down to trade talks – as Michel Barnier (the EU’s chief negotiator) has suggested.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Mr Davis suggested that the UK could walk away from the talks under those circumstances, saying ‘we don’t need to just look like we can walk away, we need to be able to walk away…under the circumstances, if that were necessary, we would be in a position to do it’.

The suggestion comes on the back of suggestions from Theresa May in the Sunday Telegraph that the bill for leaving the EU could be somewhat smaller than many anticipate, as she would want the bloc to take into account past UK contributions to bodies like the European Investment Bank, in which the UK is a significant shareholder.

Vote Leaf

The Green Party will set out its priorities for the next five years later today, with its leader Caroline Lucas putting strong opposition to the Conservatives at the core of the party’s electoral platform. Like the Liberal Democrat message, the ‘Green Guarantee’ is aimed squarely at young people, and will include plans to introduce both a universal basic income and a shorter work week. It will also pledge to roll back on the ‘privatisation of the health service’.

At the launch, Ms Lucas in expected to say ‘Green MPs elected on 8 June can be trusted to protect our public services, fight for a close relationship with the EU and truly hold whoever is in government to account…if we do end up with a Tory government you can be sure that Green MPs will hold Theresa May's feet to the fire’.

Elsewhere on the election trail today, the Labour top brass are also ramping up their pitch to young people, promising to bring forward their pledge on university fees to Autumn 2017. Under the plans, students starting university in England this Autumn would not not have to pay tuition fees, while those already in higher education would not have to pay for their remaining years.

Finally, today marks the deadline for signing up to vote. If you’re hoping to visit a polling station on 8th June and have yet to register, you can do so here.

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