Election presses on as Parliament dissolved


Theresa May will travel to Buckingham Palace today to mark the dissolution of Parliament and the official start of the election campaign.

At one minute past midnight, MPs reverted to being members of the public and all business in the House came to an end.

Since 2011’s Fixed Term Parliament Act, the Prime Minister no longer has to ask the monarch to trigger dissolution, so today’s visit is seen as a formality.

There are now no MPs in the UK until the votes have been counted in the 650 seats being contested in the general election on 8 June.

With so much at stake, the parties have already pushed the start button on their campaigns and today will continue to flesh out their policy platforms.

Chancellor Philip Hammond and Brexit Secretary David Davis will accuse the Labour party of threatening a “tax and debt bombshell.”

They will capitalise on Tuesday’s confusion over the shadow home secretary Diane Abbott’s costings for an extra 10,000 police officers, by warning of Labour’s “nonsensical tax and spending promises”.

The Conservatives say Labour’s proposals would leave a £45bn black hole in the public finances.

Jeremy Corbyn insists all the spending has been properly costed and instead will turn his party’s focus on the National Health Service.

His shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth will pledge to halt the Government’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP), which were designed to better coordinate local health services, but Labour argues are a vehicle for Tory cuts.

Rehana Azam, GMB national secretary for public services, calls STP “a drastic reorganisation that is seeing our health service cut to the bone – opening it up to privatisation under the sinister guise of efficiency savings”.

UKIP is expected to call for a reduction in Britain’s foreign aid budget from 0.7% to 0.2% of GDP while ring-fencing humanitarian aid.

And the Liberal Democrats will continue to criticise the Government’s plans for a so-called ‘hard Brexit’, while unveiling what they claim is a record number of party members.

Events across the channel in Brussels could also warp the day of campaigning.

Both Brexit negotiators for the European Commission, Michel Barnier, and the European Parliament, Guy Verhoftstadt, will hold news conferences and could apply more pressure on the Prime Minister.