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Election campaigning enters final week
It’s a week until polling day and the pledges are coming thick and fast. Boris Johnson says he will make good on existing promises to take the UK out of the EU and present a “tax-cutting” Budget within the first 100 days of a Conservative government. In that timescale, the prime minister also says he will draft laws to end automatic early prison release for violent offenders, enact pledges on police recruitment and “enshrine in law” promised NHS funding increases. The Liberal Democrats describe it as “pure fantasy”, while Labour points out the Tories have already been in government since 2010 and describes their record as “one of total failure”. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon says it raises the prospect of Scotland being “dragged out of Europe within just eight weeks”.
Labour’s latest pledge is to cap class sizes at 30 pupils across all schools in England, recruiting 20,000 teachers over the next five years to enable it to do so. The party is pledging to inject £25bn into schools over the next three years, with shadow education secretary Angela Rayner saying it will “transform education standards”. The Lib Dems accuse them of copying their policies and say Labour’s Brexit plans will bar “thousands of EU teachers”. The Conservatives say Labour “would wreck the economy, leaving no money for public services”. Our education editor Branwen Jeffreys says the promise may not be easy to deliver, given a teacher shortage and current 15% shortfall in the numbers beginning training for secondary schools. In other election coverage:
- The Lib Dems pledge a £17bn research and development fund, while the Green Party launches a new deal for nature and the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon begins a seven-day campaign bus tour
- If you’re struggling to cope with the slew of promises, you can compare parties’ policies on the issues that matter most to you via our interactive manifesto guide
- Our Reality Check team assesses Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson’s interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil. You can see Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage face that grilling from 19:30 GMT on BBC One
- We examine the parties’ pledges on migration to the UK
- Polling analyst Sir John Curtice considers whether Brexit really is the most important issue for the public
Mentally ill ‘spend months on hidden waiting list’
Adults with mental health conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety can languish for months on “hidden” waiting lists, BBC News can reveal. England’s NHS talking therapy service assesses nine in every 10 patients within the target time of six weeks. However, the latest figures show half of patients waiting longer than 28 days for their second session – when core treatment such as counselling begins – with one in six having to wait more than 90 days. Former police officer Paul Williams, 60, tried to take his own life while waiting. “The treatment was really good when I got it, but the problem is you are kept in a holding pattern,” he says.
Radio 1’s first blind presenter
“I’m a small, blind, ginger woman from Birmingham,” says Lucy Edwards. The 23-year-old will also become Radio 1’s first blind presenter when she takes over the late morning slot on 28 and 29 December. The YouTuber and freelance presenter was one of 35 people, including students, podcasters, a tattooist and shop manager, chosen following a Radio 1 and 1Xtra search for presenters to take over the airwaves for five days over Christmas. What can listeners expect? “We’ve got my lovely guide dog Olga at my feet. We’ve got cute, cuddly vibes. We’ve got some amazing tunes to be played.”
Kim Jong-un mulls ‘Christmas gift’ decision
By Laura Bicker, BBC News, Seoul
Kim Jong-un has a big decision to make. Talks with Donald Trump have not gone to plan. Strict economic sanctions remain in place and it appears Washington is not going to budge despite Pyongyang’s insistence that it come up with another deal to resolve the nuclear issue by the end of the year.
Mr Trump, too, seems frustrated. He has once again hinted at the possibility of military action against North Korea… As Ankit Panda, North Korea expert at the Federation of American Scientists, sees it: “We’re beginning to see the scenario that many of us had warned of from the get-go of diplomacy: a capricious and irritable Trump coming to terms with the reality of his reality-TV diplomacy with North Korea.”
What the papers say
Some papers lead on Boris Johnson’s declaration of plans for the first 100 days of a Conservative government, with the Times and Daily Telegraph focusing on a pledge to cut taxes after Brexit. The Sun uses an image of the door of No 10 to set out the PM’s “10 commandments”. The Daily Mirror offers a very different portrayal – superimposing Mr Johnson’s head on to the body of children’s book character Mr Greedy – in reporting he earned £720,000 away from Parliament last year. Other papers focus on Donald Trump cutting short his attendance at the London Nato summit after Canada’s Justin Trudeau appeared to mock the US president on camera. “Trump gets the hump,” says the Metro.
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10:30 The Lord Chief Justice will hear an appeal by three members of “Oval Four” – jailed for assaulting a police officer and attempted theft 47 years ago – who claim they were framed by a corrupt detective.
18:30 Gen Sir Nick Carter gives the annual Chief of the Defence Staff Lecture at the Royal United Services Institute in London.
On this day
1950 Chinese troops enter the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, as United Nations forces are pushed steadily back towards South Korea.