London: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is pledging free high-speed broadband for all with a £20 billion ($26 billion, Dh95.4 billion) plan to nationalise BT Group PLC’s Openreach unit. The party’s most striking move of the election campaign overshadowed Boris Johnson’s attempts to woo voters with a promise to reinvigorate down-at-heel towns.
In two appearances on the BBC on Friday, the prime minister defended his government’s response to the flooding in northern England and promised to boost the state-run National Health Service, where patients are facing record waiting times. He also said the Conservatives would cut unskilled immigration.
Boris Johnson said he “is not 100 per cent behind” the High Speed 2 rail line project between London and northern England because of its “mounting” cost. The HS2 railway line is estimated to cost 88 billion pounds now, Johnson told BBC Radio 5, and “could be north of 100 billion by the time it’s finished.”
“It’s only responsible to look at whether that money is going to be sensibly spent,” Johnson said. But he added: “When it comes to a big choice to our country about whether or not just to scrap something of potential national importance, a big piece of infrastructure, I really do hesitate.”
Johnson said he will wait for the official review of the project to be published — after the election — before making a final decision.
Boris Johnson said “there is no evidence” of Russian interference in British politics, and sees “absolutely no reason” why a report on the subject should be published before the Dec. 12 election.
Politicians from across the spectrum — including former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — have called for the parliamentary report, which has been cleared for publication by the security services, to be made public.
“I see absolutely no reason to change the normal procedures for publishing ISC reports just because there’s an election,” Johnson said in a BBC radio phone-in show. Asked about Russian interference, he said: “There is no evidence for that, we have to be very careful before we cast aspersions on people because of their nationality.”
Johnson said all donations to his Conservative Party by Russian oligarchs have been “properly vetted and properly published.”
Boris Johnson denied that his party offered peerages to persuade Brexit Party candidates to stand down, a claim made late Thursday by Nigel Farage.
“No, nein,” Johnson said on BBC Radio 5. “What is this nonsense.”