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HomeUK NewsEconomic strategies take centre stage in Sunak-Starmer debate

Economic strategies take centre stage in Sunak-Starmer debate

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour’s Keir Starmer clashed over economic strategies and public services in their first election debate on Tuesday. The debate comes ahead of the 4 July election, with Sunak accusing Labour of planning significant tax hikes.

Sunak claimed only he had a viable plan to boost economic growth, while Starmer criticised the Conservatives’ 14-year tenure, describing it as a period of economic turmoil. Both leaders aimed to address the cost-of-living crisis, healthcare wait times, and immigration, issues that resonate with many voters.

Throughout the debate, the leaders were frequently admonished to not interrupt each other. However, the discussion failed to unveil new policy details, focusing instead on reaffirming existing positions. Key voter concerns included managing household expenses, reducing healthcare waiting lists, and improving educational standards.

In his closing remarks, Sunak warned against Labour: “Keir Starmer is asking you to hand him a blank cheque when he hasn’t said what he’ll buy with it or how much it’s going to cost you.” Starmer retorted that Labour would not offer “the gimmicks or unfunded promises that Rishi Sunak does.”

On immigration, Sunak defended his controversial plan to send illegal asylum seekers to Rwanda, while Starmer maintained he would explore third-country processing if it adhered to international law.

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The debate occurred a day after Nigel Farage declared his intention to run in the election, potentially diverting votes from the Conservatives. Farage, known for his Brexit advocacy, pledged to be a disruptive force in Parliament.

A YouGov snap poll for Sky News showed Sunak narrowly edged out Starmer in the debate, with 51% of viewers favouring Sunak’s performance compared to Starmer’s 49%.

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