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Sunak v Starmer: The ITV Debate (4 June) – Overview

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Participants

  • Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party
  • Sir Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party

Opening Statements

  • Rishi Sunak said uncertain times called for a clear plan and bold action – he said he would cut taxes, immigration and protect pensions
  • Keir Starmer said he had ambition for the country and a practical plan to deliver it

Cost of Living

Rishi Sunak

  • He understood the strain of the last few years on finances
  • Raised support such as the furlough scheme and decreasing inflation
  • Re-emphasised cutting taxes would help improve things and that Keir Starmer would put the progress at risk by raising taxes and would make peoples lives more difficult
  • Asked people to judge him by his actions, again raising the furlough scheme
  • Mentioned several times that he wants to cut taxes

Keir Starmer

  • He understood how worrying a time it is
  • Appreciated that Ukraine and Covid had made things difficult but Liz Truss crashed the economy and working people are paying the price
  • Asked why Sunak has called the election if the plan is working, and said it’s because he knows prices are going to go back up in the Autumn
  • Taxes are at the highest level for 70 years
  • Raised his family background where he knows what its like to not have money to pay bills and so could sympathise

Health and Social Care

Rishi Sunak

  • Covid has undeniably caused damage but record funding has been put in and more doctors and nurses are being trained
  • Waiting lists are coming down – NHS was disrupted by industrial action
  • NHS record in Labour-run Wales has a 40% longer waiting time, ambulance response times are worse
  • Doesn’t want to raise taxes to pay for doctors pay rise
  • He would use personally use private healthcare

Keir Starmer

  • The NHS has been broken and what has happened to the NHS is unforgivable
  • Got to resolve doctors strikes – NHS needs to get back to work but Labour isn’t going to pay a 35% pay rise for doctors. Need to get in the room and negotiate with the doctors to get a settlement
  • Plan for 40,000 extra appointments every week to get waiting lists down
  • He would not personally use private healthcare
  • Plan for social care, fully costed and funded, will be in manifesto

Cost of Living

Rishi Sunak

  • Education is the most powerful way to transform people’s lives
  • English school children are the best readers anywhere in the Western world
  • People who work hard should have the freedom to send children to private school

Keir Starmer

  • Desperately need more teachers – in secondary schools we do not have the teachers we need
  • Would recruit 6,500 to fill gaps
  • Will raise VAT on private schools to pay for extra teachers

Tax

Rishi Sunak

  • Will not raise income tax, NI or VAT
  • Will raise personal allowance for pensioners – pensioners would pay tax for the first time under Labour

Keir Starmer

  • Will not raise income tax, NI or VAT (apart from private schools)
  • Will raise specific taxes, have been clear on what they are (such private schools, non-doms, equity loopholes and oil and gas companies)
  • Liz Truss made unfunded tax cuts – Sunak is doing the same
  • Will not go back to austerity

Immigration

Rishi Sunak

  • Immigration is too high, will need to take bold action
  • Will introduce new cap for legal migration
  • Rwanda plan will only work if he is elected PM, otherwise there will be no deterrent
  • Has introduced plans to smash the gangs, which Starmer voted against
  • On the European Convention of Human Rights, he would remove the UK’s membership if a foreign court interrupts UK security
  • Once we have controlled borders, country can have conversation on how many people to accept

Keir Starmer

  • Migration is at record highs – the Conservatives have overseen this
  • This year alone, 10,000 have crossed on boats, a record number – Sunak is failing to keep promises
  • Need to smash the gangs who are running the illegal migration trade – it is not impossible to bring down these gangs
  • Will not engage in an expensive gimmick like the Rwanda plans
  • Will have a border security command if elected
  • Will not pull out of international law commitments, which were put in place after WW2
  • Nobody should be crossing the channel but does agree with the concept of safe routes for some groups of people, such as Afghan interpreters
  • Would consider processing asylum claims in a third country – people are not getting claims processed quickly enough in the UK meaning they cannot be returned

Gaza

Rishi Sunak

  • Strongly supports the deal put on the table by the USA
  • Would want to build towards a two state solution
  • World is an increasingly dangerous place – Conservatives investing in defence
  • Doesn’t think Labour can be trusted to keep the UK as safe as the Conservatives would
  • Angela Rayner does not believe in a nuclear deterrent
  • Investing up to 2.5% of GDP in defence

Keir Starmer

  • Situation in Gaza is intolerable and catastrophic
  • Need a ceasefire/cessation of hostilities as soon as possible
  • Have to get hostages out
  • Desperately need humanitarian aid into Gaza
  • Has to be a two-state, lasting solution
  • Has worked on national security in his previous role; knows how important it is to act on national security

Donald Trump

Rishi Sunak

  • Would engage with Trump as important for national security

Keir Starmer

  • If he is elected, the UK will deal with him. Special relationship transcends whoever is PM or President

Climate

Rishi Sunak

  • This is the issue his children talk to him about more than anything else
  • Prioritising the UK’s energy security
  • Is going to stick to targets that have been put in place, but in a way that saves the public money
  • Starmer will reverse the changes the Conservatives have made such as boilers, installing heat pumps and changing cars

Keir Starmer

  • A transition to renewables is coming – it’s not a challenge, it’s a huge opportunity. Gives cheaper bills, energy security and the next generation of jobs
  • Clean power by 2030 is one of Labour’s five missions – it will be fully costed and funded in the manifesto
  • The 2030 plan will cost more with the Conservatives than with Labour
  • Wants to set up Great British Energy, a publicly owed company, which will drive the UK to renewables
  • We should insulate our houses because people are paying too much – was started by the Conservatives but cancelled

Young people

Rishi Sunak

  • Do need to give young people more support
  • Will introduce a modern form of national service to give people the skills and opportunities they need to get on in life – it can be transformational
  • Want people to have financial security by cutting taxes
  • Lots of people from the armed forces support the national service proposal
  • It’s too hard to own your own home – wants to make it easier to save for a deposit

Keir Starmer

  • Important to give the further education opportunities people deserve
  • Will build houses so you don’t have to be 35/36 before owning a house
  • Will not introduce national service – Conservatives will use levelling up funding to fund national service
  • For young people, the dream of home ownership has all but gone – average age for first time buyer is late 30s. Labour will build 1.5 million homes, with amenities close by

Leadership style

Rishi Sunak

  • Need a clear plan and to take bold action

Keir Starmer

  • Game plan, good squad and a strategy for winning

Closing Statements

Keir Starmer

  • Doesn’t pretend there is a magic wand that will fix everything overnight – Labour offers a common sense plan. Britain can and must be better. A Labour government would turn the page. Chance to rebuild Britain with a changed Labour Party

Rishi Sunak

  • Will always have the UK’s back. With Keir Starmer, apart from higher taxes, you don’t know what you will get. Starmer has no plan. In uncertain times, we cannot afford an uncertain Prime Minister.

Watch key moments of the debate.

Source: Randall’s Monitoring

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