General election 2024: Sunak and Starmer clash over taxes in first debate

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer faced off in the first TV debate of this election, with heated exchanges over tax, the NHS and immigration.

Conservative and Labor leaders became tense at times, forcing the host of the ITV event to intervene and urge the pair to “lower their voices”.

Mr Sunak claimed Labor wanted a £2,000 tax rise, which Sir Keir described as “absolute rubbish”.

Both leaders used the opportunity to present their personal stories to voters, speaking about how their childhood experiences shaped their political views.

Video explanation, ‘Lower your voices’: Sunak and Starmer discuss immigration

Sunak entered the debate with current opinion polls predicting a record victory for Labour, and with his pledges on the economy and Rwanda’s pioneering deportation policy coming under scrutiny.

The Tory leader was keen to take aim at his opponent, with the first question from the audience focusing on how each party is dealing with the cost of living crisis.

Sunak said the Conservatives had drawn up the furlough scheme during the pandemic, and insisted his plan to grow the economy was starting to bear fruit.

In return, he claimed that Labor would pay for its spending plans through “£2,000 higher taxes for every working family in our country after all the hard work and sacrifices we’ve been through”.

The Labor leader went on to suggest his opponent was out of touch with reality, saying: “Paula, I don’t know how you feel to hear the Prime Minister say, after hearing what you’re going through, that the plan is working.” “.

Mr Sunak and Sir Keir were asked to raise their hands if they would raise income tax, National Insurance or VAT, with the exception of Labour’s policy on private schools.

Neither raised his hand, raising questions about how he will pay for his policies.

The debate continued to rage as the two men explained their parties’ policies on immigration, which were highlighted following Nigel Farage’s return as leader of the UK’s Reform Party.

Mr Sunak has challenged Sir Keir directly on his immigration plans, often speaking to his rival and boss, Julie Etchingham.

Sir Keir responded, saying: “We need to crush the gangs who run this vile trade, making a huge sum of money by putting some of the most vulnerable people on boats across the Channel,” to applause from the audience.

At one point, Mrs Etchingham had to intervene, saying: “Gentlemen, we will lower our voices.”

Asked how to reduce NHS waiting lists, the audience groaned loudly when Mr Sunak blamed health worker strikes for some of the issues – but then got the first applause of the debate when he added that taxes should not be raised to fund the NHS. National Health.

Video explanation, Party leaders clashed over taxes and the economy

There were more groans of Mr Sunak’s continued support for his National Service plans when asked what the Conservatives are offering young Britons.

Mr Sunak said the plan – which would see every 18-year-old take part in 25 days of community service and some choose a year of military service – could be “transformational”.

Sir Keir dismissed the idea as “desperate” and said the UK did not need a “teenage dad army” but Mr Sunak responded, saying “all he can do is laugh at it because you have no ideas”.

Asked whether he would withdraw the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) if Rwanda’s deportation policy did not work, Sunak said he would “choose the security of our country every time”, a position that was well received. .

But Sir Keir’s defense of the European Convention on Human Rights, saying he wants the UK to be a “respected player on the world stage, not a pariah”, was also praised.

The greatest clarity of the night came when Ms Etchingham asked the couple a simple yes or no question about whether they would use private healthcare to bypass long waiting lists for a loved one.

Mr Sunak answered “yes” while Sir Keir answered “no”, adding that he does not use private healthcare.

See also  Russia is planning electronic call-up papers in its crackdown on draft evaders

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *