Party leaders face Question Time debate showdown - live (2024)

Gove concedes General Election victory would be 'a stretch'
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2 minutes ago

Rishi Sunak faces shouts of 'shame' from audience

Members of the BBC Question Time special audience shouted “shame” when Rishi Sunak said he would prioritise the UK’s security over the European Convention on Human Rights.

“I believe everything we are doing is compliant with our international obligations,” The Prime Minister said.

Mr Sunak said he was “prepared to do what it takes” to begin sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, adding that the country does not need a “foreign court” to issue instructions on border security.

“I will put our country first,” he added.

18 minutes ago

Rishi Sunak: Election was right for this country

Rishi Sunak said he believed he had chosen the right moment to call the General Election.

He told the BBC Question Time audience: “It was the right moment to call the election, for the reasons that I have outlined.”

Asked if he was glad to have called the election, he added: “I am.”

The Prime Minister compared his current prospects to those he had during the Tory leadership contest of 2022.

Mr Sunak said: “Even though people didn’t want to hear it at the time, I kept going, I kept saying what I thought was right for this country, I kept going until the end and you know what? I was proved right then.

“And that is why you can trust me now when I say that what Keir Starmer is promising you is the same fantasy as Liz Truss did and it is just going to make your taxes go up and that matters to me because I don’t want that to happen.”

31 minutes ago

Rishi Sunak: Migrants make a contribution to UK

Rishi Sunak said that migrants do make a contribution to the UK, but those who come here should be expected to support their dependants.

The Prime Minister said: “Of course migrants can make a contribution to our country and do – like my parents, as you said, like my grandparents – my point is that the levels of migration that we have seen are too high and they need to come down.”

He added: “What we have done is say that people are going to bring family members here, they just need to be able to support them.”

Pressed on whether social care staff should be paid more so they are able to support their families, Mr Sunak replied: “We have a dedicated visa for social care because we know how important it is and we need to make sure that we do get the right workers.”

34 minutes ago

Rishi Sunak: NHS waiting lists started to come down 'over the last five months'

Rishi Sunak said it is time to “make sure we realise all the benefits” of Brexit.

Asked if Brexit had denied young people a future, he said “we had a referendum, it’s time to get on”.

The Prime Minister pointed to the Teesside Freeport as one such benefit.

“I was there recently talking to young apprentices,” he said.

Questioned about NHS waiting lists, Mr Sunak said they had started to come down “over the last five months”.

Party leaders face Question Time debate showdown - live (1)

Rishi Sunak faced a tough 30 minutes

Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

“I come from an NHS family,” he said.

But Mr Sunak admitted his Government had “not made as much progress as I would have liked”.

41 minutes ago

Sunak put on the spot about national service

Rishi Sunak suggested it would be “politicising the armed forces during an election campaign” to respond to criticism of his national service policy.

Asked about comments from Lord West of Spithead, a former chief of the naval staff and Labour peer, who is reported to have called the policy “bonkers”, Mr Sunak told the BBC Question Time audience: “Well it wouldn’t be appropriate to start politicising the armed forces during an election campaign.”

The Prime Minister insisted the military route was optional, despite the proposed national service scheme being compulsory.

When asked about what sanctions people could face for not taking part, Mr Sunak pointed to “access to finance” among other examples.

Asked if this meant taking away people’s bank cards, he laughed, and said: “There’s lot of different models around Europe.”

47 minutes ago

Rishi Sunak 'incredibly angry' about Tory election date betting scandal

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was “incredibly angry” to learn of allegations about Tory figures betting on the election date, and that they “should face the full force of the law” if found to have broken the rules.Sunak said anyone who is found to have broken the rules will be “booted out of the Conservative Party” amid the election betting scandal.

During BBC’s Question Time special, the Prime Minister said: “These investigations are ongoing, they are widely confidential, one of them is a criminal investigation that’s being conducted by the police.”

Mr Sunak said the “integrity of that process should be respected”, adding: “What I can tell you is if anyone is found to have broken the rules, not only should they face the full consequences of the law, I will make sure that they are booted out of the Conservative Party.”

51 minutes ago

Rishi Sunak: Judge me on my 18 months in office

The first question to Prime Minster Rishi Sunak: “We’ve had five prime ministers in the last seven years, one of them only lasted six weeks.

“Are you embarrassed as a result we are something of an international laughing stock?”

Sunak replies by saying that he admitted mistakes had been made when he first entered Downing Street.

But he says he also asked the public to “judge me on my 18 months” in office.

56 minutes ago

Sir Keir Starmer asked about broken promise on university tuition fees

Sir Keir Starmer claimed he was a “common sense politician” when asked why he had not kept a promise to abolish university tuition fees.

Asked why he had backtracked on the pledge, the Labour leader told the Question Time audience: “We don’t have the money to do everything we want to do. We do want to change the tuition fees.

“But I have a choice to make, which was of the available money do I use it for getting rid of the tuition fees… or do I use that money to get our waiting lists down? That is a political decision and I took it.

“I am not going to do the tuition fees abolition, because I want to put that money to get our NHS back on its feet.”

Sir Keir also said he chose Labour’s plan for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies over nationalising energy companies, as the latter would require huge amounts of money to “pay off the shareholders”.

The Labour leader said: “I am a common sense politician. I work through the issues and to me it did not make sense to nationalise energy and not get the bills down, so I decided we would go for getting the bills down.”

1 hour ago

Sir Keir Starmer: NHS waiting list backlog cleared over Labour's first term

Sir Keir Starmer said the NHS waiting list backlog would be cleared over the course of the next parliament under a Labour government, as he accused Rishi Sunak of blaming NHS staff for the rise.

An NHS nurse questioned Sir Keir on how he will be supporting healthcare staff, in response to this the Labour leader said: “The first thing I would say is: we’ll treat you with respect.

“And I say that because we have a Prime Minister who 18 months or so ago said ‘I’m going to get the waiting list down’ and he said ‘hold me personally responsible’, and now he hasn’t got them down, because they’ve gone up, not down, he blames you, he blames the NHS staff.

“We will never do that, because I know how hard you work all the time, in Covid in particular.”

He added: “But we do have to take the pressure off the waiting lists. Now that is an ask of staff, it is an ask of staff, were not going to say otherwise because they will be working evenings and weekends.”

Asked when the public could expect to see waiting lists come down to a reasonable level, Sir Keir replied: “Over the course of the parliament, we’ll get it down and clear the backlog.”

1 hour ago

Sir Keir Starmer: Tories have 'completely lost control' of migration

Susan Purdies asked Sir Keir Starmer: “Given your criticisms of the Conservatives’ approach on migration do you think it is acceptable for you to not commit to any targets on such a critical topic?”

Starmer says migration is at record levels and the government has “completely lost control”.

Labour would get migration down “significantly”, but wouldn’t put a number on it because politicians have failed every time they’ve done that.

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Party leaders face Question Time debate showdown - live (2024)

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