- Political campaigning was suspended this week. Following Monday’s terrorist attack in Manchester, all parties suspended their constituency and national campaign activity. Local campaigning resumed Thursday afternoon, and national campaigning began again on Friday.
- The Office of National Statistics report on public sector finances was overshadowed by the terrorist attack in Manchester. Admittedly, the title of this report could seemingly be overshadowed by almost anything, but its findings on the UK’s breakdown of the budget deficit by region made for some interesting number crunching.
- Theresa May’s manifesto U-turn… four days in. It was revealed this week that Theresa May’s social care policy, which was quickly modified after public backlash, was thrown in at the last minute by her Chief of Staff Nick Timothy and not discussed with any of her Cabinet colleagues. She was subsequently grilled by Andrew Neil in Monday’s first leadership interview, who called into question whether she could provide the strong and stable leadership she claimed to offer.
- Jeremy Corbyn was also grilled this week about his connections to the IRA. Jeremy Corbyn was unable to capitalise on Theresa May’s mishaps, as he faced scrutiny of his connections to the IRA. He didn’t help himself by repeatedly refusing to condemn the IRA’s activities. Expect the Tories to return to this theme as the campaign draws to a close.
- Theresa May attends the NATO and G7 summits. Thursday and Friday saw the Prime Minister fly to Brussels and Sicily for the respective summits with other world leaders. She, along with her other NATO colleagues, were captured looking very uneasy when President Trump spoke at length about the financial burden that NATO is allegedly causing US taxpayers.
- Boris John steals Robert Peston’s notes and still struggles. During a break in an interview between the Foreign Secretary and Robert Peston, Boris Johnson was caught reading the questions that were due to be asked. Despite having this tactical advantage, he couldn’t help getting mixed up with his figures and wrongly claim that Theresa May had promised an extra £350m for the NHS in the Conservative manifesto.
The polls since the manifestos were released suggest that Labour has gained ground on the Conservatives. Whilst the majority of polls still have the Conservatives winning the election, they do indicate the lead being trimmed to around nine or ten points, which is down from the 22 point difference that separated the parties at the beginning of the campaign.
The week ahead:
- Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to appear on BBC’s The Andrew Neil Interview on Sunday evening.
- The deadline for proxy vote applications is Wednesday 31st May at 5pm.
- Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn will face questions from a live audience and will be televised on Sky News & Channel 4 on Monday night.
- UKIP Leader Paul Nuttall is expected to appear on BBC’s The Andrew Neil Interview on Monday evening.
- Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will launch the SNP’s General Election Manifesto in Perth on Tuesday.
- On Wednesday night a general election debate with a senior Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Green Party and UKIP figures will be held.
- Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron is expected to appear on BBC’s The Andrew Neil Interview Thursday evening.
- Prime Minister Theresa May and Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn are expected to appear on a BBC Question Time Leader Special on Friday.
The long and the short of it:
It was an unorthodox week by usual campaigning standards. The Conservatives lead is without a doubt being trimmed so they may actually benefit from the break from campaigning to allow them to reassess their options. The break couldn’t really have come at a worse time for Jeremy Corbyn as he and the Labour were beginning to build momentum. As the final stretch of the campaign trail approaches, expect the rhetoric to be cranked up a notch.