SCOTLAND could benefit from 5,000 extra nurses as a result of the Conservatives' headline manifesto pledge, the Scottish Tories have insisted, as Boris Johnson urged voters to make Britain “Corbyn neutral by Christmas”.

With the Conservatives continuing to ride high in the opinion polls – two at the weekend gave them a 12 and 19-point lead – the Tory leader adopted a cautious, steady-as-she-goes approach to his party’s election policy launch, designed to keep the focus squarely on his key campaign message to “get Brexit done”.

The set-piece event in the marginal Shropshire seat of Telford, unusually taking place on a wet Sunday afternoon, was verging on the low key, with the Prime Minister’s speech lasting barely 15 minutes.

There were few surprises in the slim 59-page document, as most of the key proposals were trailed in advance.

Voters were promised there would be no hikes on either income tax, VAT or National Insurance contributions [NICs], and the all-important grey vote was told the pension “triple lock” would stay.

Once again, Mr Johnson warned of a “nightmare on Downing Street” should Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon form a “coalition of chaos”.

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He added: “I say let’s go carbon neutral by 2050 and Corbyn neutral by Christmas.”

The Labour leader dismissed the Tory launch as a “manifesto for billionaires", stating: "They bought it and you’ll pay for it”.

Mr Corbyn insisted the PM could not be trusted, adding: “After a decade of the Conservatives cutting our NHS, police and schools, all Boris Johnson is offering is more of the same: more cuts, more failure, and years more of Brexit uncertainty.”

Ms Sturgeon accused the Tories of a “panicky obsession with the SNP” which showed they were “running scared of the verdict of the people of Scotland in this election”.

The First Minister added: “Scottish votes could hold the key to locking Boris Johnson out of Downing Street for good but only if voters unite behind the SNP candidates who can beat him.”

After the Tory leader last week inadvertently pre-announced an effective tax cut by raising the threshold people begin to pay NICs, the headline announcement at the manifesto launch was a plan to recruit an extra 50,000 NHS nurses in England over five years to plug the existing vacancy gap, which currently stands at more than 43,000.

Jackson Carlaw, for the Scottish Conservatives, who are due to launch their own manifesto tomorrow, said this would mean a £3.1billion knock-on windfall for the Scottish Government over four years, thanks to the Barnett Formula mechanism.

"This was a bold, confident manifesto launch which makes clear that a vote for the Scottish Conservatives will stop Indyref2, get Brexit sorted and move the country on," declared the acting party leader.

“The big commitment to support nurse recruitment would mean 5,000 nurses and an extra five million GP appointments for Scotland if it was replicated here. We want to see the same level of ambition from the SNP on the NHS when they launch their own manifesto this week.

“Voters now have a clear choice: no more referendums and backing for our NHS with us, or two more referendums and more chaos and division with everyone else.”

But Jonathan Ashworth, for Labour, dismissed the Tory NHS pledge, saying: “The Conservatives’ claim on nurses is frankly deceitful; the sums simply don’t add up. First, we had Johnson’s fake 40 new hospitals, now we have his fake 50,000 extra nurses.”

Later, Tory sources acknowledged that some 30,000 of the additional nurses would come from measures to retain existing staff rather than new recruits.

One notable omission from the manifesto was a plan to give middle income earners an effective tax cut by raising the higher rate income tax threshold from £50,000 to £80,000 – a promise made by Mr Johnson during the Tory leadership contest.

Last week, he shelved a planned cut to corporation tax on company profits from 19 per cent to 17.

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The Tory leader insisted he had not lost any of his "tax-cutting zeal” but added: “At this particular juncture, when people have been going through some quite tough times and want to see spending on the NHS now, it is right to focus our tax cuts on people, who need them most.”

Nor was there a detailed plan on social care – the issue which engulfed his predecessor Theresa May in a major row in 2017 with the so-called “dementia tax”.

The manifesto pledged £1bn extra each year but simply held out the aspiration of cross-party talks on a long-term solution. Earlier, Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office Minister, said the Government wanted to forge an “enduring consensus” across the parties on the issue.

In his speech, Mr Johnson sought to reassure Brexiteers that he would begin pushing his withdrawal agreement through Westminster before Christmas so that Britain could leave the EU in January.

The PM characterised the election contest as a battle between "retrograde destructive socialism" and "sensible One Nation Conservatism".

He insisted his ambitious approach of infrastructure investment and tax cuts would enable a future Conservative government to “forge a new Britain”.


At several points in his speech the PM mocked Mr Corbyn’s plan to take a “neutral stance” on Brexit, saying to laughter: “He used to be indecisive. Now, he's not so sure."

Using a French accent, he asked what Brussels would make of Labour’s approach. “Bonjour Monsieur Corbyn, tell us about this deal that you want.

"What do you mean you don't really want it? What do you mean you don't really believe in it, you're not going to advocate it?”

To more laughter, Mr Johnson added: "Then who does believe in it? Not Monsieur McDonnell. Not Monsieur Starmer. Not Madame Abbott. Then who does believe in it? Who? It's farcical."


The manifesto also makes clear that a future Tory government would not facilitate a second referendum during the entirety of the next Parliament.

It denounces the SNP’s “obsessive focus” on independence, stressing: “Scottish schools and hospitals will always take second place to the pursuit of another referendum.”

The policy prospectus says the Tories “stand with the majority of people in Scotland, who do not want to return to division and uncertainty”.

It adds: “Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP promised the 2014 referendum would be a ‘once in a generation vote’ and the result was decisive. We believe that outcome should be respected.”

In a post-speech Question and Answer session with journalists, the issue of trust was raised once again when Mr Johnson was asked if he could be trusted.

He replied: “The biggest issue at this election is really whether people have any confidence in politics anymore. The reason why trust and confidence in politics has been so undermined is because for three and a half years they have seen politicians engaged in constant prevarication, procrastination, dither and delay when the people of this country voted to get Brexit done.”

The manifesto includes:

*a "triple tax lock" with no increases in income tax, national insurance and VAT for five years;

*raising the threshold for NICs to £9,500 with the "ultimate ambition" to increase it to £12,500;

*an Australian-style points based system to control immigration after Britain has left the EU;

*an additional 20,000 police officers for south of the border with tougher sentences for violent criminals;

*a £1bn boost for "wraparound" childcare after school hours and during the holidays in England;

*maintaining the pensions triple lock, winter fuel payment and the older person's bus pass and

*investing £100bn in additional infrastructure spending, including £2bn for the "biggest ever" pothole repair programme south of the border;

*scrapping NHS hospital car parking charges for staff working night shifts, the disabled and the terminally ill and their families and

*commitment to make the UK carbon neutral by 2050.