pollitician : What we learnt from Sunak and Starmer at leaders' event - including PM's 'appalling' diet

pollitician : What we learnt from Sunak and Starmer at leaders' event - including PM's 'appalling' diet
pollitician : What we learnt from Sunak and Starmer at leaders' event - including PM's 'appalling' diet

Thursday 13 June 2024 02:46 AM

newsonline - Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer took turns answering questions from Sky News and a live audience, with a snap poll suggesting the Labour leader performed better on the night.

But what did we learn from their responses about the key issues facing the country?

Here's a look at the key points from the Sky News leaders' event in Grimsby.

Latest updates on the general election

Image: The Sky News leaders' event was held in Grimsby

NHS waiting lists

With the NHS England waiting list up to about 7.5 million cases, there was some angry shouting from the audience when Mr Sunak brought up the industrial action taken up by staff in the health service.

"We've not made as much progress on cutting waiting lists as I would have liked," he said.

"That was something that I was keen to do, and it has proved more difficult for a number of reasons, obviously recovering from a pandemic is not easy."

He faced groans and boos when he said: "I think everyone knows the impact the industrial action has had, that's why we haven't made as much [progress]."

Advertisement

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video playerThe UK heads to the polls on 4 July. 0:18

Sunak booed as he arrives at Sky News event

Sir Keir said the government could not afford to meet junior doctors' pay-rise demands but said Labour would "get the room and settle this dispute".

Tory tax burden

Mr Sunak repeated his promise of "tax cuts for people at every stage for people at every stage of their life".

Facing questions about the tax burden potentially being higher than it is now under a future Conservative government, Mr Sunak said: "What our manifesto announced is the tax cuts for people at every stage of their life - for people in work, for people that are setting up small businesses, that are self-employed, for those young people who want to buy their first home, for pensioners and for families."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video playerCONWAY 3:32

Did Sunak's claims add up?

D-Day fallout

"It hasn't been an easy 18 months in general," Mr Sunak admitted, when asked about what has gone so wrong for his party.

"I'm going to keep fighting hard until last day of this election," he said.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video playerRishi Sunak 1:24

Sunak 'deeply sad' over D-Day

But Mr Sunak's decision to leave D-Day commemorations early sparked widespread backlash against the prime minister.

"I was incredibly sad to have caused people hurt and upset," he said, adding he hopes people can forgive him.

National service

When an audience member asked why a young person today would believe the Tories have their best interests at heart, Mr Sunak said he is "incredibly excited" for his daughters to do national service.

"I think it will be transformative for our country," he added.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video playerThe UK will head to the polls on 4 July. 0:56

Sunak on 'transformative' national service

Tough questions for Starmer on tax

Addressing his tax plans, Sir Keir insisted "working people shouldn't pay more tax" and repeated "no tax rises for working people".

This includes income tax, VAT and National Insurance, but rises in fuel duty, for example, would impact working people, Rigby pointed out.

That has not been explicitly ruled out.

Read more:
Starmer performed best at Sky event - poll

Conservatives fear Labour landslide in ad
Labour's Tory manifesto mortgage claim 'very speculative'

To help balance the scales, increasing capital gains tax could raise £14bn a year, Rigby said, but Sir Keir revealed "that is not in our manifesto".

He said he'd be happy to pay more tax himself, despite being in the top 3% for amount of tax paid - after earning £128,000 and paying £44,000 in income tax last year.

"Yes, of course," he said, reminding the audience his father was a toolmaker - with the often-repeated line causing some laughter in the audience - and his family "couldn't make ends meet".

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video playerKeir Starmer was accused of having changed from a few years ago, when he seemed like a genuine public servant. 0:51

Starmer accused of being a 'political robot'

VAT on private schools

Challenged on his plans for a VAT tax on private school education, Sir Keir told an audience member the party is removing a tax break - rather than adding a new tax.

"The position at the moment is there's a tax break, so you pay VAT on other services, but you don't pay for private schools," he said.

"Now I understand why that's been in place, but it's a tax break that we are removing. It's not an introduction of a new tax."

Two-child benefit cap

Sir Keir confirmed there is no plan in his party's manifesto to cut a two-child benefit cap, admitting it was a "difficult" decision.

"I can't do something - I know the benefits of it and we will have a strategy for it - but I think people are fed up of politicians who before the election say we'll do everything," he said.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video playerSir Keir Starmer leaders' debate 4:20

Starmer challenged on 'trust'

Small boat crossings and immigration

On small boats, Rigby confronted Mr Sunak about small boat crossings. More than 10,000 migrants have arrived in the UK by crossing the Channel in small boats in 2024 - a new record for this stage in the year.

Part of the Tory strategy to cut the number of crossings is the controversial Rwanda policy, which Mr Sunak again vowed would take off in July if he wins the election.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video playerSunak was questioned as part of Sky's leaders' event in Grimsby. 2:17

Sunak: Immigration 'too high'

Asked why, if he is so confident flights would take off in July, he didn't prove this before calling an election, Mr Sunak said "it was the right moment" to go to the polls.

Meanwhile, Rigby outlined how net migration in the past three years stands at 1.9 million people - against 836,000 before Brexit.

With the figure more than doubling since leaving the European Union, Mr Sunak admitted "it's too high".

"I'm sure people feel frustrated about that," he said. "The numbers are too high."

Starmer distances from Corbyn

Questioned on trust, Sir Keir defended changing previous stances he held, including Labour policies.

He said the "country comes first, party second" and looked back at previous decisions to ask himself if they're best for the nation, rather than Labour.

Reminded on his claim in the last election that Jeremy Corbyn would make a "great prime minister", the Labour leader refused to answer directly if he believed that.

Instead, he repeated he was "certain" the party would lose the election in 2019.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video playerThe UK heads to the polls on 4 July. 1:02

'I was certain we would lose'

What we didn't know about the leaders

Asked what he fears most about becoming prime minister, the Labour leader said he's worried about the impact it will have on his family, including his children aged 16 and 13.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video playerSir Keir Starmer and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are answering questions at Sky’s leaders’ event in Grimsby. 0:58

'The only fear I have is for my family'

Rigby asked Mr Sunak to tell the audience one thing they might not know about him.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video playerRishi Sunak revealed he has a sweet tooth and has an "appalling diet". 0:50

Sunak reveals 'appalling diet'

He said he had an "appalling diet" due to his sweet tooth. Haribo and Twix are apparently his favourites.

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

NEXT politics : Egypt denies approval for Rafah crossing relocation, Israeli oversight