General election: Johnson promises 50,000 more NHS nurses in manifesto launch

24 November 2019, 13:28 | Updated: 24 November 2019, 20:27

The Conservatives have promised 50,000 more nurses as Boris Johnson launched the party's manifesto.

The prime minister said the Tories will also bring back nurses' bursaries.

The 50,000 nurses will be made up of 14,000 in training and another 5,000 apprentices, while an extra 12,500 nurses will be recruited from abroad through a new NHS visa.

There were accusations that some of the nurses are not new recruits, with the Conservatives saying: "We will introduce retention and returner-friendly measures, amounting to 18,500 nurses in the workforce."

It is not known how many existing nurses would be "retained" and how many would be returning after leaving the NHS.

Lauching the manifesto in Telford, in the West Midlands, on Sunday afternoon, Mr Johnson said a Tory majority would also guarantee 50 million more GP appointments a year.

Sky News' economics editor, Ed Conway, analysed the Conservatives' spending pledges and found for every pound they want to spend by 2023/24, Labour will spend more than £28.

The NHS promises would mainly be paid for by not lowering corporation tax from 19% to 18%, as the Conservatives had previously promised.

The prime minister said the manifesto pledges could be achieved without raising income tax, VAT or national insurance contributions.

"That's our guarantee," he added.

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The evening before the manifesto launch, Mr Johnson announced the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill would be put back to MPs before Christmas to sign off the UK's divorce with Brussels before the 31 January deadline.

"In this manifesto there is a vision for the future in which we unite our country," he said.

"It is time to unleash the potential of our country and forge a new Britain."

The Conservative leader said he would guarantee 20,000 more police officers and tougher sentencing.

His key immigration promise is an Australian-style points-based system applied to both EU and non-EU citizens after the UK leaves the bloc.

He announced last week most immigrants will need a job offer to come to the UK to work. However, exceptions will be made for highly skilled scientists and people wanting to start a business in the UK.

People coming to the UK from the EU will only be able to access benefits after five years, as is the current case for those coming from outside the bloc, and new arrivals will have to cover the full cost of using the NHS, the manifesto states.

Mr Johnson said on Sunday that will leave the government with "millions more every week in science, in schools, in apprenticeships and in infrastructure, and control our debt at the same time".

He also promised to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 "with clean energy solutions", including £6.3bn for energy efficiency measures to reduce fuel poverty.

"I say let's go carbon neutral by 2050, and Corbyn neutral by Christmas," Mr Johnson added.

"Let's go for sensible, moderate, but tax-cutting One Nation Conservative government and take this country forwards."

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Other pledges listed in the manifesto include:

  • Getting rid of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act
  • Raising the threshold for National Insurance contributions to £9,500 in 2020, with an "ultimate ambition" of £12,500
  • Infrastructure investments - including better transport and tens of thousands of new homes
  • £5bn in short-term funding for adult social care
  • £74m more over three years in community care settings for people with learning disabilities and autism
  • Free hospital car parking for disabled people, frequent outpatients, gravely ill patients, visitors and carers to long-term patients, as well as staff working out-of-hours shifts
  • Doubling funding for dementia research, with an extra £83m a year
  • £6.3bn to improve energy efficiency in 2.2 million disadvantaged homes - reducing bills by up to £750 a year
  • Plant millions of trees
  • £1bn for after-school and holiday childcare
  • 250,000 more primary school children to get on-site childcare over summer holidays
  • New measures to fight knife crime and speed up the handling of knife crime cases in the courts
  • More support for rape victims, extra protections for domestic abuse sufferers and a "Victims Law" to guarantee their rights
  • A stamp duty hike for foreign individuals and companies buying property in the UK
  • Want TV licences for over-75s - but the BBC should pay for them
  • £3bn for an adult retraining programme
  • Keeping the pensions triple lock so state pension increases by highest of CPI inflation, wage growth or 2.5% each year
  • Keeping winter fuel payments to help pensioners with heating costs, as well as bus passes for older people and the energy price cap
  • A pothole-filling programme, with an injection of £2bn as part of the government national infrastructure strategy
  • Invest in Midlands Rail Hub - a £2bn scheme to strengthen rail connections between Midlands' cities

Speaking after the launch, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called it a "manifesto for billionaires" as he accused Mr Johnson of offering "more cuts, more failure, and years more of Brexit uncertainty".

He said the prime minister "can't be trusted".

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said the Conservative manifesto resembled UKIP's in 2015, claiming he campaigned on many of the same issues while he was leader of UKIP.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Ed Davey said the Tory manifesto "is built on a lie" of Brexit being implemented "without causing years of chaos and damage to our economy".

He claimed the Brexit deal would leave the UK £70bn worse off.

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