The row between the UK’s two biggest parties broke out after the Tories published a dossier detailing the opposition’s spending plan costs.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid, who oversaw the publication, defended the report.
Javid warned that it would plunge the UK into “an economic crisis within months” and leave it “on the brink of bankruptcy” during his interview on the BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show. The chancellor, however, refused to reveal the Tories' own spending plan costs.
Appearing on the same show, Labour Party’s co-national campaign coordinator Andrew Gwynne called the £1.2 trillion figure “an absolute work of fiction.” He added that Labour “will have a fully costed manifesto in due course when we launch that, and you know, the challenge is actually for Conservatives to fully cost their own manifesto, something they didn’t do in 2017.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell described the Tory paper as “ludicrous fake news”.
Wyn Grant, professor of international politics at Warwick University, said that the Conservative Party figures are not very reliable and cannot be given for the simple reason that Labour has yet to publish its manifesto.
“The Conservatives themselves have been criticised for abandoning fiscal prudence and engaging in a bidding war with Labour,” the professor noted.
UK-based freelance journalist Alex Tiffin echoed similar views.
“It is impossible at this stage to even guess the cost of Labour's plans, as nothing has been set in stone with a manifesto yet,” he stressed.
Tiffin said that it is another attempt by the Tory party to “undermine Labour's financial plans should they win an election”. The first one failed after the head of civil service, Sir Mark Sedwill blocked a Conservative plan to use civil servants to cost the Labour Party's fiscal plans in a separate report.
Tiffin has argued that the Tories' dossier doesn't take into account Labour's claim that the economy would grow more rapidly, thus increasing the state’s income.
“You can't possibly cost something without taking income into account. That's what makes this look all the more ludicrous,” he said.
The real reason behind releasing the “worthless report” according to Tiffin “is to divert from the failings they've made over the past nine years and because they've no real plans themselves".
Labour's plans concentrate on helping the most vulnerable in society, while the Tories' rewards big business and the rich. That never looks good in an election, and they know it,” the journalist explained.
Meanwhile, Professor Amelia Hadfield, head of politics at the University of Surrey and Director of think-tank the Centre for Britain and Europe, believes that "Watson’s exit is being regarded as a serious blow to moderate Labourites and a boost to avid Corbynistas".
"Those absolutely devolved to Jeremy Corbyn, whether within the Momentum parts, or part of the strong Cobynite majority of the NEC will be delighted at Watson’s departure, having regarded him as central to the 2016 attempt to remove him as leader. With Watson - head of the Corbynskeptics – gone, Corbyn is absent a foe and can look to replace Watson with a more hard-left alternative. However, doing so would make him even less electable, so it’s likely he’ll opt for a moderate and engaged voice, perhaps Rebecca Long-Bailey or Angela Raynor".
At the same time, she points out that Watson's departure may make Corbyn feel empowered: "If he can gain seats in the election, or even win power, he’s well on his way to a more clearly articulated internal identity, sorely needed given the ongoing rifts over the specific ‘Labour vision’ of Brexit and ongoing allegations of anti-semitism".
Britain is heading to the polls on 12 December after Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to take the UK out the EU. This election will test both the Tories and Labour and will be fought predominantly on one issue - Brexit.
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