General election - latest: Tetchy Sunak clashes with host over betting scandal in debate with Starmer

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer were grilled by the public as the election campaign enters the final stretch.

The prime minister and Labour leader took questions from the public on their plans for government with just over a week to go until polling day.

Mr Sunak and Mr Starmer faced each other on The Sun’s Never Mind the Ballots election special programme.

Earlier, Nigel Farage was in Kent on the campaign trail and doubled down on widely criticised claims about Nato’s role in the build-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Reform leader hit back at Boris Johnson’s criticism over his comments branding the former prime minister the “worst PM of modern times” as he unveiled a giant version of the i newspaper frontbage with the headline “Boris blames EU for war in Ukraine”.

Key Points

  • Sunak and Starmer go head-to-head in latest debate

  • Sunak rules out he is facing probe from the Gambling Commission

  • Farage brands Boris ‘liar’ over criticism on Ukraine claims

  • Farage blasts Tories ‘greedy and stupid’ over betting scandal

  • More than half of all Londoners planning to vote Labour

  • Badenoch hints at Tory leadership bid after general election

Starmer grilling over

18:44 , Matt Mathers

Starmer’s grilling by Sun readers has now finished.

The Labour leader was tackled on his previous support for Corbyn, the economy, immigration and the NHS, among other issues.

Our manifesto is fully costed - Starmer

18:43 , Matt Mathers

Starmer says his priorities will be to stabalise the economy and cut NHS waiting lists.

He is asked if he will be more radical in government.

Everything in our manifesto is fully costed, he adds.

Starmer: I’m ready to be PM

18:41 , Matt Mathers

Starmer says he is ready to become the prime minister should Labour win the election.

We have the chance to change things, he adds.

But people must go out and vote for it, he adds.

We will protect women-only spaces - Starmer

18:38 , Matt Mathers

Starmer says women-only spaces must be protected.

He is asked why Labour would make it easier for people to change gender.

Labour will treat everyone with respect, he adds.

Starmer tackled on NHS

18:34 , Matt Mathers

Starmer is tackled on his comments that he wouldn’t use private health care.

I won’t skip the queue, he says.

My government will bring waiting lists down, he adds.

We need to fund public sector schools - Starmer

18:32 , Matt Mathers

Labour leader says he has nothing against private schools.

He is tackled about his plan to tax private school fees.

We need to fund public sector schools too, he adds.

Rwanda not working - Starmer

18:30 , Matt Mathers

Starmer denies that he is creating a “draw” effect by saying Labour will process claims.

Not processing claims means people are able to stay indefinitely at the expense of the taxpayer, he adds.

The Rwanda plan is not a disincentive, he adds.

18:27 , Matt Mathers

Starmer insists people can be sent back to the county they came from.

He says the last Labour government was able to do this.

We will also smash the gangs smuggling people into the UK, he adds.

Starmer: We will process more asylum claims

18:25 , Matt Mathers

Starmer says Labour will set up a new border security command on day one of entering office if it wins the election.

He says Labour will send people back to the country they came from.

We will process more asylum applications, he adds.

Starmer tackled on Rwanda

18:23 , Matt Mathers

Starmer is now tackled on the government’s Rwanda plan.

He is asked how Labour will deport people and where they will send them to.

Labour has said it will scrap the government’s Rwanda plan, which Starmer has previously described as a “gimmick”.

Starmer: We’ll provide stability

18:20 , Matt Mathers

Starmer says the UK has gone through 14 years of “chaos” under the Tories.

He says Labour can provide the change the country needs.

We will provide stability, he adds.

I’ve changed the Labour Party, says Corbyn

18:18 , Matt Mathers

Starmer says he has “fundamentally” changed the Labour Party.

Harry Cole suggests that he had failed to change the party while Corbyn was leader.

Cole suggests Starmer failed to get a second EU referendum.

I didn’t vote for Corbyn in Labour leadership contest - Starmer

18:16 , Matt Mathers

Starmer says he wanted to get “good colleagues” reelected to parliament.

He was tackled on his previous support for Jeremy Corbyn.

I didn’t vote for him to become leader, Starmer says.

Shock new poll confirms Reform lead over Tories despite Farage’s Putin comments

18:08 , Matt Mathers

A shock new poll appears to have confirmed that Reform holds a narrow lead over the Tories with just 10 days to go before the general election.

According to the Redfield and Wilton survey of 10,000 voters polled after Nigel Farage made his comments blaming the West for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, his Reform UK are one point ahead of the Tories both unchanged on 19 percent and 18 percent.

Full report:

Shock new poll confirms Reform lead over Tories despite Farage’s Putin comments

Starmer up shortly

18:06 , Matt Mathers

Sunak has finished taking questions from Sun readers now.

Sir Keir Starmer is up shortly.

Sunak: I have the energy to keep going

18:05 , Matt Mathers

Sunak denies that the “fight” has gone out of him after his D-Day gaffe.

He says he will never give up fighting for every vote ahead of the election.

I have the energy to keep going, he adds.

I’ll cut taxes - Sunak

18:02 , Matt Mathers

Sunak says the election is about “the future” as he urges Sun readers to back him.

He says he will cut taxes while Labour will raise them.

PM adds that he has created jobs and promised to boost defence spending.

Watch

18:00 , Joe Middleton

The ghost of Liz Truss

17:59 , Matt Mathers

Sunak said he was “right” about the disastrous premiership of his predecessor Liz Truss.

He is asked if he should apologise to the country on behalf of the Tory party before putting her in Downing Street.

PM claims the economy will suffer if Labour wins. He adds they will put up taxes.

I’ll help young get on housing ladder - Sunak

17:55 , Matt Mathers

Abolishing stamp duty and the help to buy scheme will help people get on the housing ladder, Sunak says.

He is asked what his party will do to help young people buy their first home.

Both the policies are in the Conservative Party manifesto.

I accept responsibility for NHS waiting lists - Sunak

17:53 , Matt Mathers

Sunak says he hasn’t made as much progress on NHS waiting lists as he would have liked.

He is asked what has gone wrong and whether he accepts responsibility, as waiting lists remain at near-record levels.

I can assure you that the NHS budget will continue to increase, he adds.

Sunak tackled on NHS

17:49 , Matt Mathers

Sunak is now tackled on the NHS and waiting lists.

An audience member tells him her dad died of cancer before getting diagnosed.

The most important thing we can do is diagnose people “as soon as possible”, the PM says.

He apologises to the woman.

I’ve only been PM for 18 months - Sunak

17:47 , Matt Mathers

Sunak says net migration is due to decline because of the action he’s taken.

He is asked why he didn’t try to start reducing the numbers earlier.

Sunak says he’s only been PM for 18 months.

PM tackled on benefits and migration

17:45 , Matt Mathers

Sunak says he has set out plans to make savings in welfare.

A former detective asked Sunak about immigration and sickness benefits.

PM claims Labour thinks savings can’t be made.

Rishi Sunak reveals that the Tories have their own betting inquiry

17:42 , Matt Mathers

A tired looking Rishi Sunak has come in for a grilling by The Sun into the gambling scandal, David Maddox reports.

He has revealed that as well as police and Gambling Commission inquiries his party is carrying out its own investigation.

But he denies that “it feels like the last days of Rome”.

However, he is stopped in his tracks with the point: “You know who was in the room, you know who you told.”

'Why is the country falling apart?’

17:41 , Matt Mathers

Sunak accepts things have been “difficult” over the past few years but defends his record.

He says education standards have gone up, pointing to improvements in reading levels among children.

PM was asked “why is the country falling apart?”

‘Full consequences of the law'

17:38 , Matt Mathers

Anyone found guilty in the betting scandal should face the “full consequences of the law”, Sunak says.

He says the investigation must be carried out responsibly.

PM says anyone found to have broken the law will be kicked out of the Tory party.

Election bets a matter for Gambling Commission, says Sunak

17:35 , Matt Mathers

Sunak is now tackled on the betting scandal, which he says he is “very angry” about.

He was asked why nobody has been suspended over the row.

PM says it is a matter for the Gambling Commission and the police.

I stabalised the economy - Sunak

17:33 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak is first up, taking questions from Sun readers.

PM says his priority was to restore economic stability when he entered office.

He was asked if he is delivering on his promise of competent government.

17:32 , Matt Mathers

Sun politics editor Harry Cole gets the show underway.

He sets the scene for the debate, outlining some of the key issues facing the country.

He cites the economy, public services and immigration.

Debate kicks off shortly

17:29 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer are being grilled by the public as the election campaign enters the final stretch.

The prime minister and Labour leader are taking questions from the public on their plans for government with just over a week to go until polling day.

Mr Sunak and Mr Starmer are going head to head on The Sun’s Never Mind the Ballots election special programme.

The debate starts shortly - stay tuned for the latest updates.

Nigel Farage hits back at Boris Johnson as he defends Ukraine comments

17:00 , Joe Middleton

Nigel Farage has hit back at Boris Johnson after the former prime minister accused the Reform UK leader of a “morally repugnant” repetition of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s justification for the invasion of Ukraine.

The Reform Leader addressed crowds in Maidstone, Kent, whilst on the campaign trail on Monday (24 June), saying that he would “never, ever defend” Putin and that he had been “more far-sighted” in predicting a war in Ukraine.

Mr Farage, who has been criticised for saying the West “provoked” the war in Ukraine, then went on to unveil a blown up poster of the i newspaper’s front page from 10 May 2016, with the headline “Boris blames EU for war in Ukraine”.

Nigel Farage hits back at Boris Johnson as he defends Ukraine comments

Ask a Green Party candidate anything in exclusive Q&A session

16:15 , Joe Middleton

The Independent is giving readers the chance to chat directly with candidates from some of the major political parties in a special general election series of Ask Me Anything events.

In one of the sessions, our community will be able to chat exclusively with Dr Ellie Chowns, who is hoping to be elected MP in North Herefordshire for the Green Party.

Serving as the party’s housing and communities spokesperson, Dr Chowns served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the West Midlands for the party from 2019 to 2020. She has also been a councillor on Herefordshire Council since 2017, representing the Bishops Frome & Cradley ward, and is leader of the council’s Green group.

If you have a question about the Green Party’s manifesto, pledges or policies submit it here now.

Dr Chowns will join the conversation live at 6pm on Friday 28 June for the “Ask Me Anything” event.Find out more here.

Labour is on course for a 250-seat Commons majority, according to new poll

15:35 , Joe Middleton

Labour is set to win a 250-seat majority in the House of Commons, according to a new poll released on Monday afternoon.

The Focaldata survey said the Conservatives are set to lose an astounding 262 seats, leaving the party with 110 MPs.

According to the research the Labour Party would gain 250 seats, which would culminate in 450 seats in the Commons.

The Liberal Democrats would gain 42 seats, while the SNP would lose 34.

Tories doing own inquiry into betting allegations, says Sunak

15:24 , Joe Middleton

The Conservative Party is conducting its own internal inquiry into allegations that officials and candidates bet on the date of the general election, Rishi Sunak said today.

Speaking to journalists, Mr Sunak said: “(The Gambling Commission) don’t talk about the individuals that they are investigating,” the Prime Minister told journalists on the campaign trail in Edinburgh on Monday.

“What I can tell you is I am not aware of any other candidate that they are looking at.”

He added: “What I can tell you is, in parallel, we’ve been conducting our own internal inquiries and of course will act on any relevant findings or information from that and pass it on to the Gambling Commission.”

The party’s chief data officer Nick Mason is the latest figure understood to be taking a leave of absence amid claims he placed bets on the election date, along with director of campaigning Tony Lee.

Mr Lee’s would-be MP wife Laura Saunders and fellow candidate Craig Williams, who was a parliamentary aide to the prime minister, are also under investigation by the Gambling Commission.

Watch: Nigel Farage defends Ukraine war comments and attacks Boris Johnson

15:14 , Joe Middleton

What are Labour and the Conservative positions on transgender rights ahead of the 2024 general election?

14:49 , Salma Ouaguira

Labour has clarified its position on transgender rights as Wes Streeting says the party would “modernise and reform” gender laws if it comes into power on July 4.

The shadow health secretary has said Labour’s policy aims to allow transgender people to “live their lives with freedom, dignity and respect”. His comments come after all the major parties unveiled their manifestos over the past few weeks, outlining their visions for the country. Each covers transgender policy, with the issue becoming a major cultural talking point over the past few years.

You can read The Independent full story below.

Transgender rights: What is the Labour and Conservative position?

Rishi Sunak insists he got general election timing right

14:45 , Salma Ouaguira

The prime minister has insisted he was “right” to choose 4 July as the day for the general election.

During a media huddle in Edinburgh, he was asked if he would have wanted more months to make his case.

He said: “No – The most important job I had when I was Prime Minister was to restore economic stability back to our country after what has been a really difficult few years with Covid and the war in Ukraine.

“My priority was bring inflation down, because inflation was eating into everyone’s pay packets, their savings, making everyone feel the challenges of the cost of living.”

Rishi Sunak speaks to the media after the launch of the Scottish Conservative manifesto at the Apex Grassmarket Hotel in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak speaks to the media after the launch of the Scottish Conservative manifesto at the Apex Grassmarket Hotel in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

Pictured: Sir Keir Starmer visits Northampton Town Football Club at Sixfields Stadium

14:44 , Salma Ouaguira

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (centre) speaking during a visit to Northampton Town Football Club at Sixfields Stadium in Northampton, while on the General Election campaign trail (Jacob King/PA Wire)
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (centre) speaking during a visit to Northampton Town Football Club at Sixfields Stadium in Northampton, while on the General Election campaign trail (Jacob King/PA Wire)
 (Jacob King/PA Wire)
(Jacob King/PA Wire)

14:39 , Salma Ouaguira

Exclusive: One in 5 young voters prefer TikTok and Instagram for election news, poll reveals

14:34 , Salma Ouaguira

Young voters are relying less and less on traditional media for news, as the election looms round the corner, our Data correspondent Alicja Hagopian reports.

A substantial 21 per cent of 18-34 year olds say that TikTok and Instagramare their main source of information for the general election campaign, an exclusive Techne poll for the Independent can reveal.

Perhaps most surprising is that Twitter and Facebook are the least preferred source for young voters — at just 4 per cent.

While all platforms can share both image and video content, Instagram and TikTok have more of a skew towards visual content, while Twitter and Facebook are more centred around text-based content.

Farage 'doesn’t have a point worth listening to about anything’ says ex-head of British Army

14:24 , Salma Ouaguira

Former head of the British Army Lord Dannatt has attacked Nigel Farage over his claims that the West had provoked the invasion in Ukraine.

Asked whether the Reform leader had a point with his remarks, he said: “As far as I’m concerned, Nigel Farage doesn’t have a point worth listening to about anything.”

He added on BBC Radio 4’s World At One: “If the issue is the wider point as to whether the situation in the war has got to a point where negotiations should take place, that is entirely a matter for President Zelensky and really for him alone to decide whether, in his judgment, to negotiate would be a better thing to do in order to save more Ukrainian lives than continue fighting.”

 (EPA)
(EPA)

Badenoch hints at Tory leadership bid after general election

13:56 , Joe Middleton

Kemi Badenoch hinted at having leadership ambitions, saying “we will talk about leadership things after an election”.

The business secretary is seen as a frontrunner to replace Rishi Sunak as Tory leader if the party loses the general election to Labour.

Ms Badenoch entered the race to replace Boris Johnson last summer and was endorsed by Michael Gove, eventually coming in fourth place.

She campaigned to leave the EU in 2016 and is combative on cultural issues, giving her a significant appeal with the right wing of the party.

Ms Badenoch told a Bloomberg debate: “I’m already the secretary of (state for) business and trade, and it’s actually been the job of a lifetime. I love it. There’s no better job.

“It is a lot easier and a lot less pressured than being prime minister.

“The fact of the matter is, I stood and I lost. And what terrifies me now is not not becoming leader, it is seeing Labour come in.”

She continued: “This is one of the things that I’ve found most difficult doing this job, that people tend not to know what it is, because I’m always asked the leadership question. We’re so interested in the personalities, in the gossip and so on...

“We need to focus on this election. The choice is going to be between us or between them. Be afraid if it is them, is all I would say. And we will talk about leadership things after an election, but not before.”

Political leaders wish Princess Royal a speedy recovery

13:39 , Joe Middleton

Political leaders have wished Princess Anne a speedy recovery after she suffered minor injuries to her head and a concussion when it is believed she was kicked by a horse on her Gatcombe Park estate.

The Princess Royal, 73, an Olympic-medal-winning horsewoman, was walking on her Gloucestershire estate on Sunday evening when the incident happened.

Emergency services were despatched to the estate and, after medical care at the scene, the princess was transferred to Southmead Hospital in Bristol for appropriate tests, treatment and observation.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak said: “Everyone in the country is immensely fond of Her Royal Highness. We’re all sending her our best wishes for a swift recovery.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Wishing Her Royal Highness a speedy recovery and sending my best wishes on behalf of all of us at the Labour Party.”

Labour dodges question about European Court of Justice role in new EU deal

13:26 , Andre Langlois

Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds has dodged a question about whether a future Labour government would accept a role for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in a future deal with the European Union.

Taking questions during Bloomberg’s Business Debate, Mr Reynolds said: “We’re not going to give away our negotiating hand entirely but... the argument on food and agricultural products is this: do you want lower standards than the European Union?

“If you don’t want lower standards, surely we remove pragmatically some of those checks and balances to make sure we can have as close a relationship as is possible, to remove some of those costs. There will still be costs because we’re not going to talk about going back into a customs union.”

Tory business secretary Kemi Badenoch described his response as “astonishing” and added: “What would they have to give up in order to get that? That is the question that they don’t want to answer, saying it’s part of their negotiating hand.”

She accused Labour of trying to take the country “back into the EU without saying so” and said: “We cannot allow any kind of oversight from the ECJ – that’s not something that you should be keeping in your back pocket. That’s something that you need to be honest about with the British public.”

Mr Reynolds hit back: “This is a conversation on one side, on the Conservative side, which is all about to be frank the next leadership election in the Conservative Party and the red lines within there.”

Watch: Tory minister reveals how he would bet on election 'if he was allowed'

13:17 , Joe Middleton

Kemi Badenoch and Jonathan Reynolds clash over climate and net zero commitments

13:12 , Jabed Ahmed

Business secretary Kemi Badenoch and her Labour counterpart Jonathan Reynolds have clashed over whether net zero is an opportunity to be seized or cost to be mitigated.

Speaking at Bloomberg’s UK Election 2024: The Business Debate, Mr Reynolds said: “It’s an opportunity. I mean, it couldn’t be any clearer than that – it’s one of the greatest opportunities that has ever existed and actually for the UK, when you think about some of that regional inequality that we are very familiar with, that the transition could be something that isn’t just an opportunity in itself, (but it) actually addresses some of the real long, deep-seated problems within the British economy.

“And the job of Government around that is not to deliver that itself, of course it’s not, it’s to build and shape the markets that the private sector will then operate around.”

Ms Badenoch responded: “It is both. When we decided that net zero was going to be a policy, this was a cross-party thing. It wasn’t just Conservatives. There is no major party that has said it does not want the net zero target by 2050, but that was in 2018. Look at what happened since then – Covid and a war in Ukraine that’s completely changed the landscape for what that meant.”

The Business Secretary added: “Yes, it can be an opportunity, but we need to make sure that we deliver other things on a no-regrets basis.”

Mr Reynolds responded and added Labour had altered its £28 billion climate pledge.

Rachel Reeves weighs in on Tory election betting scandal

13:03 , Jabed Ahmed

Rishi Sunak has shown an “astonishing lack of leadership” by failing to suspend Conservatives facing investigation into betting on the date of the General Election, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has insisted.

Ms Reeves said Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had “been really clear” that “if this had been Labour candidates, their feet would not have touched the ground”.

Speaking during a visit to a windfarm in East Renfrewshire, the shadow chancellor said: “When wrong doing takes place in Labour, candidates are suspended. That is not an easy thing to do but it is the right thing to do.”

She stated: “It is an astonishing lack of leadership from Rishi Sunak that these candidates are still in place, they have still got the Conservative rosette.

“Rishi Sunak is now so weak he is not even able to suspend people who are accused of profiteering from inside information. It is frankly one rule for Conservative candidates and staffers and another rule for everybody else.”

She added: “In the end voters will judge the Conservatives on their 14 years and sleaze, the abuse of public office, is quite high in people’s minds. It is one of the reasons why people want change after 14 years of chaos and decline”

 (Reuters)
(Reuters)

Reform leader claims Labour in power would be ‘even more incompetent than Tories’

12:58 , Salma Ouaguira

Nigel Farage has claimed that if Labour gets into Downing Street, it would be “even more incompetent than the Conservatives”.

The Reform leader said: “I believe this Labour government will get into trouble very, very quickly. They will prove to be, if it is possible, even more incompetent than the Conservatives have been.

“And as he tries to take us back to EU rules, as we get more lunacy on trans laws and everything else, you will find a government and a Parliament split from its people.

“So my ambition is for us to establish a bridgehead in Parliament on July 4 and over the course of the next five years to build up a mass movement for common sense, for decency, to represent the silent majority in this country.”

Farage doubles down on small boats ‘invasion’ attack

12:53 , Salma Ouaguira

Nigel Farage has claimed he was right to describe migrants crossing the Channel in small boats an “invasion”.

He doubled down on Reform’s pledge to ditch the European Court on Human Rights as he criticised Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda scheme.

He said the UK was “not meanspirited or nasty” but people coming to the UK illegally would never be granted refugee status unless they pay taxes and obey the law.

 (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
(Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)

Tees Valley Tory mayor claims Labour activists are encouraging Tories to vote Reform

12:48 , Jabed Ahmed

The Conservative’s Tees Valley mayor Lord Ben Houchen has claimed Labour activists are encouraging Tories to vote for Reform UK.

In a video shared on X, a Labour campaigner could be seen telling a Reform voter “all you’re doing is taking votes away from the Conservatives, so we want you to vote Reform”.

Lord Houchen told The Independent: “This just shows that there’s everything still to play for at the election and Labour are panicking. They can’t convince anyone to back Slippery Starmer and they know there is no love for the Labour Party on the doors, so they’ve resorted to campaigning for Reform in the hope they can stop Conservatives being elected.

“Many people across our country are very worried about a Labour Government, and now the cat is out of the bag. A vote for Reform is a vote for Labour and Slippery Starmer.”

Farage blasts Tories ‘greedy and stupid’ over betting scandal

12:46 , Salma Ouaguira

Nigel Farage has attacked the Conservatives over the betting scandal engulfing the party.

The Reform leader told supporters in Maidstone: “The sheer level of greed and stupidity that leads people right at the heart of government, who know when the election is going to be called, to put on bets is astonishing but perhaps sums up the self-entitled view that this Conservative Party has after 14 years in government.”

Mr Farage claimed the current accusations against Tories are just the “tip of the iceberg” and predicted “this scandal will get worse”.

Farage: ‘I take no lectures from Labour’

12:38 , Salma Ouaguira

Nigel Farage has responded to attacks made by the main parties on his controversial comments on Ukraine.

Speaking from the top of a double-decker bus, he has doubled down on statements about the war and western involvement.

He said: “I won’t be lectured by the Conservative party or Sir Keir Starmer. This is the same Starmer who backed Corbyn to leave NATO. So, no thank you.”

The Reform leader took aim at Starmer’s pledge to scrap a law protecting Nortern Ireland veterans from prosecution, the Legacy Act. And blasted: “Along with David Lammy, he wants us to join the European Defence Union.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Sunak responds after IFS slams Tory and Labour manifestos

12:38 , Jabed Ahmed

Rishi Sunak has responded to the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ (IFS) analysis of the major parties’ manifestos.

Earlier today IFS director Paul Johnson said both the Conservative and Labour manifestos “essentially ignore” some of the “big challenges” in the economy.

Facing questions about the analysis, the prime minister said: “No, I don’t agree with that. We have a fully costed manifesto which can deliver tax cuts for people at every stage in their lives and that is largely funded by making sure that we can find some savings in the growth of the welfare budget, because it’s been growing at unsustainable levels since the pandemic.

“We’ve set out a very clear plan to reform that, to support people into work, and in fact, the IFS acknowledge that last time around they said that that wasn’t possible, that it was actually delivered, and that’s something that the IFS themselves have said.

“Labour in contrast don’t think you can save a single penny from the welfare bill, which is already where we’re spending more than on transport, schools, law enforcement. I don’t think that’s right. I want to deliver tax cuts for people and constraining the increase in the welfare budget is the right way to do that to support people in work.”

Farage brands Boris ‘liar’ over Putin

12:26 , Salma Ouaguira

Nigel Farage has branded Boris Johnson a “liar” in a fierce attack for the prime ministe’s criticism over his comments on Ukraine.

He unveiled a giant version of an i newspaper frontpage from 2016 with the the headline “Boris blames EU for war in Ukraine”.

The Reform leader also said he will not apologise for claiming that the invasion by Russia was “provoked” by the West.

He said: “I can’t take those words away. The fact that I was more far-sighted than more politicians is not something I’ll apologise for.”

Despite the comments, he condemned Putin’s actions, adding: “None of this justifies what he’s done. And who knows - he may have done it anyway. But we gave him to give his people a reason for doing so.

“And you think I’m on my own in thinking this? The Pope in 2022 - it’s not often the Pope and I are on the same side of any debate particularly - I’m a bit more Henry VIII. But the Pope made this point in 2022.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Nigel Farage is speaking from Maidstone

12:22 , Salma Ouaguira

The Reform leader claims his party represents “the new kids on the block” and is the topic of conversation during this election capaign.

Speaking in Maidstone, he jokes about his grandchild’s birthday: “I want to make a little announcement. Yesterday was 23 June the anniversary of Brexit. It was also yesterday that my first grandchild was born. I don’t think I’ll ever forget when his brithday is.”

He adds: “We are doing rather well. There is more conversation about Reform than anything going on in this campaign that’s partly because Sunak and Starmer are simply so monotone, dull, and don’t say anything believable.”

Nigel Farage speaking at the Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel in Maidstone Kent (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
Nigel Farage speaking at the Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel in Maidstone Kent (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)

Conservatives running parallel inquiry to the Gambling Commission, Sunak says

12:10 , Jabed Ahmed

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said his party “will act” if the Conservatives’ own parallel inquiry into the alleged betting scandal finds wrongdoing.

He said: “The Gambling Commission is independent of Government – it’s independent of me.

“I don’t have the details of their investigation, right? They don’t report to me, I don’t have the details, but what I can tell you is, in parallel we’ve been conducting our own internal inquiries and of course will act on any relevant findings or information from that and pass it on to the Gambling Commission.”

When asked whether he had ever bet on politics whilst being an MP, the Prime Minister replied: “No.”

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Sunak rules out he is facing probe from the Gambling Commission amid Tory betting scandal

12:06 , Jabed Ahmed

Rishi Sunak has said he was “not aware” of the Gambling Commission investigating any further Tory candidates over allegations of betting on the General Election.

“The Gambling Commission don’t talk about the individuals that they are investigating,” the Prime Minister told journalists in a huddle in Edinburgh.

“What I can tell you is I am not aware of any other candidate that they are looking at.”

He also ruled himself out.

Opinion poll round-up with 10 days to go

12:00 , Jabed Ahmed

Two opinion polls have been published in the past 24 hours, both of which show Labour well ahead of the Conservatives and Reform in third place.

A poll by Savanta, carried out online from June 19-21 among 2,103 UK adults, gives Labour a 23-percentage point lead.

The latest poll by Opinium, carried out online from June 19-21 among 2,052 UK adults, puts Labour 20 points ahead.

An average of all polls with survey work completed during the seven days to June 24 puts Labour on 40%, 20 points ahead of the Conservatives on 20%, followed by Reform on 18%, the Lib Dems on 11% and the Greens on 6%.

Coming up: Nigel Farage to give a speech from Kent

11:57 , Salma Ouaguira

Nigel Farage is expected to deliver the “most important speech of the campaign so far”.

Reform supporters are waiting at the Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Gotel in Maidstone, Kent for his arrival.

People wait for a speech by Reform UK leader Nigel Farage at the Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel in Maidstone Kent (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
People wait for a speech by Reform UK leader Nigel Farage at the Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel in Maidstone Kent (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)

More than half of all Londoners planning to vote Labour, according to new poll

11:56 , Jabed Ahmed

Labour has a 33-point lead in London amid a “anti-Conservative” mood in the capital, according to a new poll.

The Savanta survey for the Mile End Institute at Queen Mary University of London found 55 per cent of Londoners are planning to vote Labour with only 22 per cent Tory.

The poll further found a ten per cent voting intention for the Liberal Democrats, eight per cent for Reform UK, and five per cent for the Greens.

Dr Elizabeth Simon, Postdoctoral Researcher in British Politics at Queen Mary University of London, said: “The fact that over a quarter of Londoners who voted for the Liberal Democrats at the 2019 General Election are now saying they will vote Labour is likely reflective of ‘anti-Conservative’ sentiment in the capital.

“There appears to be a willingness to vote tactically to minimise the chance that Conservative candidates are elected, among Londoners.”

Sunak and Starmer hit back at Farage over Ukraine comments

11:39 , Jabed Ahmed

Both Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak have hit back over Nigel Farage’s comments about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sir Keir said he “fundamentally” disagrees with the Reform UK leader’s comments that it would be better to negotiate with Vladimir Putin.

“I fundamentally disagree. Russia is the aggressor here,” he said.

The Labour leader added that he had been “proud of the fact that we’ve had unity throughout our parliament” in support for Kyiv.

Speaking in Scotland, the prime minister echoed these comments.

“You all heard what Nigel Farage said about Ukraine,” Mr Sunak said.

“That plays into Putin’s hands. That kind of appeasement is dangerous for Britain’s security, the security of our allies that rely on us and will only embolden Putin.”

Labour will look at potential changes to sex education in schools, Starmer says

11:32 , Jabed Ahmed

Sir Keir Starmer has said he is opposed to “gender ideology” being taught in schools.

Asked if he would rip up the ban on teaching children and young people about “gender ideology” at school, he said: “No, I’m not in favour of ideology being taught in our schools on gender.”

Asked about potential changes to sex education in schools, he said: “I think we need to complete the consultation process and make sure that there is guidance that is age appropriate. That is helpful for teachers and has at its heart the safeguarding of children.”

 (Jacob King/PA Wire)
(Jacob King/PA Wire)

Labour would rather ‘virtue signal to eco-zealots’ than protect jobs, Sunak claims

11:30 , Jabed Ahmed

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has promised to “stand full square behind Scotland’s North Sea oil and gas industry”, as he accused Labour of “virtue signalling to eco-zealots”.

Speaking in Edinburgh, Mr Sunak said: “Our North Sea industry isn’t safe with Labour.”

He added: “The Conservative Government that I lead will always stand full square behind Scotland’s North Sea oil and gas industry.

“We’re committed to new licences, more investment in infrastructure and skills and energy security for our country. We’ll deliver a secure future for the North Sea industry and for the workers that it employs, whereas Labour want to stop all new licences in the North Sea from day one of a Labour government.

“Keir Starmer and Ed Miliband want to tax the UK’s oil and gas sector and the 100,000 Scottish jobs that it supports into oblivion.”

To laughter, Mr Sunak said: “But Labour don’t want to ban all oil and gas it turns out – just British oil and gas. I mean, they would rather virtue signal to eco-zealots than protect jobs here at home.”

Sunak accuses Farage of ‘dangerous appeasement’ towards Putin

11:30 , Salma Ouaguira

Rishi Sunak has accused the Reform leader of having a “dangerous appeasement” towards Putin.

He told supporters the party is “not on the side of who you think they are” referring to Nigel Farage’s claims about the war in Ukraine.

During the manifesto launch in Scotland, the prime minister added: “Reform are standing candidates here in Scotland that are pro independence and anti monarchy.

“And you all heard what Nigel Farage said about Ukraine. That plays into Putin’s hands. That kind of appeasement is dangerous for Britain’s security, the security of our allies that rely on us and will only embolden Putin.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Starmer says he is ‘very proud’ of Labour’s record on women’s rights

11:26 , Jabed Ahmed

Sir Keir Starmer vowed to make “further progress” on gender issues, as he sidestepped a question about women’s rights.

The Labour leader was challenged over why, whenever asked about women’s rights, he pivots to talking about people who identify as trans.

Sir Keir told broadcasters: “I’m very proud of our record on women’s rights. As a party in government we passed really important legislation that has made a material difference when it comes to equality.

“Those challenges, that progress is not over. We need to make further progress, which is why I’m really proud of what we’ve got in the manifesto that we’re putting before the country this time. And that has to be done with a sort of real determination, with a conversation and discussion which is done respecting all different views. I think we can do that and further make the progress that we need.”

Scottish Tories’ manifesto framed around ‘beating the SNP'

11:19 , Salma Ouaguira

Sunak: ‘Only Tories can stand against SNP'

11:17 , Salma Ouaguira

Rishi Sunak is now on the stage presenting the Scottish Tories’ manifesto.

The prime minister has attacked Scottish rivals telling supporters that the Tories are the only party to “properly stand up to the SNP” at Holyrood.

He said: “A vote for the Scottish Conservatives is a vote to put this issue to bed. To move past these tired and stale arguments and to go forward united and together.”

The PM added: “But that can only happen if the SNP are routed. If they do not just lose some seats but the SNP lose big. And voting Scottish Conservative is the only way to ensure that that happens.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

‘immediate priority’ to scrap intermediate rate of income tax in Scotland, Douglas Ross says

11:17 , Jabed Ahmed

The Scottish Conservatives manifesto pledges to scrap the intermediate rate of income tax in Scotland.

The tax rate – which sees Scots pay 21p in the pound on earning between £26,562 and £43,662 – should be reduced by 1p, the party has said, returning it to the same rate as other parts of the UK.

Speaking at the launch of the manifesto, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the tax cut would be an “immediate priority” and claimed it would save the majority of taxpayers in Scotland £171 per year.

Keir Starmer asked about comparisons between Tory betting scandal and Rayner council house probe

11:14 , Jabed Ahmed

Sir Keir Starmer has faced questions about why he called for Conservative candidates caught up in the alleged betting scandal to be suspended, after his deputy Angela Rayner was not suspended amid a row over her past council house, which police probed.

The Labour leader said: “I think there’s a material difference and that is that the Tories caught up in this gambling escapade are openly admitting that they did it.

“There’s no issue here about that. It is the middle of an election campaign and Rishi Sunak needs to show some leadership. If these were my candidates, I’ll tell you what, they’d be gone. Their feet wouldn’t have touched the floor.”

Sir Keir added: “There’s a bigger argument here about politics, because the first instinct of these Tories about a General Election is not ‘what can we do for our country’ but ‘let’s see if we can make some money’ – and that is part of the change that is absolutely vital (in) the election a week on Thursday.”

Greater Manchester Police dropped the probe in May and concluded Ms Rayner would face no further police action.

Ross: SNP cannot ignore independence result

11:11 , Salma Ouaguira

Douglas Ross begins his speech describing the Tory Scottish manifesto as a “laser-focused on voter’s priorities”.

Speaking from Edinburgh, he pledges to grow the economy, rebuild Scotish public services ans tackle issues “that really matter to communities”.

He adds: “If the SNP do not just lose this election in Scotland but have a terrible result and are defeated right across the country – then we will have put the nationalists’ political obsession to rest for a generation.

“Scotland will have again firmly said no to independence. No to more division. No to five more years of separatist campaigning and distraction. That will be a verdict that John Swinney and his SNP Government cannot ignore.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The five key areas Scottish Tory manifesto is focused on

11:10 , Jabed Ahmed

The Scottish Tory manifesto is focused on five key areas, the document says.

They are:

  1. “Repairing the roads”

  2. “Ending long NHS waits”

  3. “Restoring our schools”

  4. “Making Scotland safer”

  5. “Cutting your tax”

The majority of these areas largely relate to devolved competencies of the Scottish Government in Holyrood, not the UK Government in Westminster.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Starmer hits back at IFS claims that he can’t deliver on tax and spending commitments

11:06 , Jabed Ahmed

Sir Keir Starmer has hit back at claims that he may be unable to deliver on his tax and spending commitments.

The Labour leader told broadcasters: “Economic stability is the foundation on which we grow the economy and create wealth in this country.”

Asked whether Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, was “wrong” in his think tank’s analyses over recent weeks, Sir Keir said: “Look, I don’t accept the forecasts that say we can’t do better than this. The economy has flatlined for 14 years. That is exactly what we are wanting to change, that’s why we’ve set out our plans for growth in our manifesto.

“So, the choice is more stagnation as we’ve seen for the last 14 years, which hasn’t done our country any good, or turn the page, rebuild, regrow our economy and create wealth so that, across Britain, people feel better off.”

11:02 , Salma Ouaguira

Coming up: Rishi Sunak set to launch Scottish Tories’ manifesto

10:54 , Salma Ouaguira

Rishi Sunak is expected to appear alongside Douglas Ross to unveil the Tories’ Scottish manifesto.

The prime minister and the Scottish Conservative leader are set to make a speech at an event in Edinburgh.

Rishi Sunak set to join Douglas Ross to launch Scotland's election campaign manifesto (Getty Images)
Rishi Sunak set to join Douglas Ross to launch Scotland's election campaign manifesto (Getty Images)

Ed Davey visits Wimbledon ambulance station

10:51 , Jabed Ahmed

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey donned overalls and a hi-vis jacket to clean an ambulance during a campaign visit in target seat Wimbledon in south-west London.

On his visit to Wimbledon ambulance station, he chatted to staff and stroked post-traumatic stress disorder assistance dog Teddy.

The dog was wearing a harness stating “Do not pet”.

The Lib Dem leader then used a jet wash to hose down an ambulance, catching watching photographers as the spray bounced off the vehicle.

He was making the visit to highlight his warning that there are now just “10 days left to save the NHS”.

 (Jeff Moore/PA Wire)
(Jeff Moore/PA Wire)

IFS director says huge decisions must be made over the economy and state

10:47 , Jabed Ahmed

Huge decisions over the size and shape of the state will need to be taken by the next government, according to Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) director Paul Johnson.

Addressing a manifesto analysis briefing in Westminster, Mr Johnson said taxes are at the “highest level ever” in the UK yet public services are struggling.

Mr Johnson said: “Despite the high tax levels, spending on many public services will – on current plans – likely need to be cut over the next five years unless taxes are raised further or government debt raises ever upwards.”

On how such a situation has emerged, Mr Johnson said: “The answer is in large part a £50 billion increase in debt interest spending relative to forecasts and a pretty big growth in the welfare budget over the last few years.

“We’ve also got rising health spending, a defence budget which for the first time in decades is going to grow not shrink, and the reality of demographic change and the need to transition to net zero.”

He added low economic growth and the after-effects of the pandemic and energy crisis have created a “pretty toxic mix” for public finances, and this means higher taxes or worse public services during the next government.

Reform urges Labour to apologise over NHS attack

10:36 , Salma Ouaguira

Richard Tice has urged Wes Streeting to apologise over attacks he made to Reform UK’s health service plans on BBC Radio 4 this morning.

Taking to X, formerly Twitter, the party chairman said: “Our health reform plans are of course still free at point of delivery. But other nations producing much better outcomes by organising healthcare differently. He must apologise.”

Journalism is a good career choice, Starmer says

10:30 , Jabed Ahmed

Sir Keir Starmer has said journalism is a good career choice for young people.

He was asked the question during a visit to a school in the East Midlands this morning.

“I do think it is good thing to do... it is really interesting”, Sir Keir said.

He added journalism is “really important in politics and democracy” because it ensures politicians are held to account.

Poll: Majority of Britons believe government is handling of cost of living badly

10:27 , Salma Ouaguira

Sir Keir Starmer answers questions from pupils in East Midlands

10:26 , Jabed Ahmed

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary re answering questions from pupils during a visit to a school in the East Midlands this morning.

The first question was about Labour’s plan to lower the voting age to 16.

Sir Keir said: “I think that if you pay tax you should be allowed to say what you think your tax should be spent on.”

 (Jacob King/PA Wire)
(Jacob King/PA Wire)

IFS: Reform’s plans ‘poison political debate'

10:21 , Salma Ouaguira

Paul Johnson has said Reform’s plans help “poison the entire political debate” by promising things that are “wholly unattainable”.

The think tank’s director said policies proposed by Reform UK and the Green party will not materialise as they are unlikely to get into power.

Criticising the Green manifesto, he says: “The choices in front of us are hard. High taxes, high debt, struggling public services, make them so. Pressures from health, defence, welfare, ageing will not make them easier.

“That is not a reason to hide the choices or to duck them. Quite the reverse. Yet hidden and ducked they have been.”