ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Johnson's 'therapeutic' debate prep



By William James and Kylie MacLellan

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain holds an election on Dec. 12, a political gamble by Prime Minister Boris Johnson who sees it as his best chance to break the deadlock in parliament over Brexit.

The parties are on the campaign trail, travelling the length and breadth of the UK to drum up support.

Following are some colourful snapshots from the election trail:

DEBATE PREPARATION

Boris Johnson will face Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in the first televised debate of the campaign later on Tuesday.

Both leaders have been preparing for their head-to-head in their own way.

Corbyn, a lifelong pacifist, posted a video online of himself in a barber shop getting a beard trim.

Johnson took a more pugilistic approach, stepping into a boxing ring in Manchester and throwing punches for the cameras.

Suddenly wary of sending the wrong message, however, Johnson paused to explain to the attending media: “I don’t want to be too aggressive here. This is more therapeutic boxing than aggressive boxing. This is boxing as therapy.”

ANIMAL CRUELTY

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson faced an unusual question this morning during an interview with LBC radio: “What is your attitude towards squirrels?”

The bizarre question has roots in the serious issue of fake news. On Nov. 2 an unverified Twitter account posted screenshots purporting to show a story from a British newspaper claiming private footage showed Swinson firing a slingshot at squirrels in her garden.

The newspaper has said it never published such a story.

Nevertheless, the story gained enough likes and retweets to make its way into the news, forcing Swinson to address the issue herself. She described the story as surprising, worrying and “very fake news”.

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“I like squirrels,” she told the radio interviewer.

A RIGHT MESS

A major part of any election campaign is getting voters to talk about the subjects you want them to talk about. Even as Britain appears submerged in a national debate about Brexit, it can be harder than it looks.

Two weeks after launching his campaign under the slogan “Get Brexit Done”, and having spent every day talking about leaving the European Union or investment in police, education and hospitals, some voters still want to talk about local issues.

Talking to members of the public in front of television cameras, one voter took Johnson to task over the state of his local park: “It’s full of dog poo,” the man told Johnson.

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