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Live General Election TV Debate: Rishi Sunak Leads in First Public Poll Against Keir Starmer as Leaders Debate Immigration, Taxes, and National Service – Latest Updates and Reactions



The first televised leaders debate of the 2024 general election campaign saw Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer go head-to-head. Moderated by ITV presenter Julie Etchingham, the debate took place in Salford, Greater Manchester, with a live studio audience present. This debate is the first in a series happening on ITV and the BBC in the coming weeks before the country goes to the polls on July 4.

During the debate, Starmer was accused of ‘making up policy’ while Sunak was branded ‘tetchy’. There were reactions from both Labour and Conservative camps following the debate, with shadow minister Jonathan Ashworth accusing Sunak of speaking over Starmer. Health Secretary Victoria Atkins accused Starmer of making up policy ‘on the air’, while Michael Gove commented on Labour being in ‘confusion, despondency and disarray’ after Sunak’s performance.

In his closing statement, Sunak appealed to voters wavering between the Tories and Reform UK, emphasizing the need for a clear plan in uncertain times. He also mentioned a discussion with England football manager Gareth Southgate about having the worst job in Britain. Meanwhile, Starmer highlighted the importance of further education opportunities and criticized Sunak’s plan to reintroduce national service, which was met with audience mocking.

A YouGov poll showed that 51% of people believed Sunak performed best in the debate compared to 49% for Starmer. Starmer, in his closing statement, likened re-electing the Tories to handing ‘the arsonists back the matches’. The debate covered various topics including immigration, healthcare, defense, and the economy, with both leaders presenting contrasting policies and views.

Overall, the debate highlighted the differences between Sunak and Starmer, with each presenting their visions for the future of the country. The upcoming election on July 4 will ultimately determine which leader will become the Prime Minister and shape the direction of the UK. The subsequent debates and campaigns leading up to the election will continue to play a crucial role in influencing voters’ decisions.

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