Red or blue? Sky News holds draw to decide whether Sunak or Starmer faces questions first in leaders' event

Sky News has held an FA Cup-style draw to determine who will face questions first in its special leaders' event on Wednesday - Rishi Sunak or Sir Keir Starmer.

The Conservative and Labour leaders will answer questions from Beth Rigby, as well as members of the public, during the Battle For Number 10 broadcast.

The running order has now been decided live on Sky News as chief political correspondent Jon Craig carried out the draw.

Explaining the draw, Craig said: "This is a bag with two balls in it - one is red and one is blue.

"This is not a time for soundbites but I do feel the hand of history is in this bag right now."

As he drew the first ball, Craig said: "This is the moment - it's red. That means Sir Keir Starmer goes first."

Guto Harri, former Downing Street director of communications, said: "Rishi gets the last word."

Award-winning political editor Rigby will scrutinise the leaders on their commitments to the country during 20-minute in-depth interviews.

The Battle For Number 10 - a Sky News Leaders Special Event will air live on Sky News on Wednesday from 7pm from Grimsby - an area expected to play a key role in the election.

Sky News's lead UK presenter Sarah-Jane Mee will be among the representative audience - drawn from the local area and nationally - as they put their questions to Mr Sunak and Sir Keir in 25-minute slots.

It will be the second televised event with the two party leaders, coming halfway through the general election campaign and just three weeks ahead of polls opening. At the first leaders' debate last week, Mr Sunak and Sir Keir were given 45 seconds to respond to each question put to them.

Sky News executive editor and managing editor Jonathan Levy said: "People said they wanted to hear more from Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, so Sky News is giving them more time to tell you about their plans for your future. Each candidate - 45 minutes, not 45 seconds... in-depth and unfiltered.

"We're giving the nation the full story, first."

Sir Keir said: "I'm really looking forward to it because I enjoy being able to talk directly to Sky viewers and to the audience there in Grimsby.

"I think having slightly more time will allow us to develop some of the answers that we need to give."

The new Grimsby and Cleethorpes constituency is complex and likely to be a key battleground in the election.

Grimsby turned Conservative for the first time since the end of the Second World War in 2019, with many people at the time feeling a cultural rift with the Labour Party.

The constituency has now been combined with Cleethorpes, where the Tories have been in power since 2010, but support for them is fading.

Since its formation in 1997, Cleethorpes has been a bellwether seat, backing the largest party in Westminster.

The Battle For Number 10 Leaders Special Event, airs on Wednesday from 7pm-10pm on Sky News - free wherever you get your news.

Freeview channel 233, Sky 501, Virgin 603, BT 313 and streaming on the Sky News website, app and across social channels. It is also available to watch on Sky Showcase.