Sir Keir Starmer calls Rishi Sunak ‘desperate’ and says ‘of course there will be TV debates’ | Politics News

Sir Keir Starmer calls Rishi Sunak ‘desperate’ and says ‘of course there will be TV debates’ |  Politics News

In an interview with Sky News, the Labor leader also defended his policy changes, saying they are the “practical reality of Tory damage to the economy”.

By Faye Brown, political reporter @fayebrownSky

Friday 24 May 2024 10:13, United Kingdom

Sir Keir Starmer accused Rishi Sunak of “looking a bit desperate” after the Prime Minister accused him of being “cowardly” in TV debates.

The Labor leader told Sky News that “of course there will be television debates” and that they are now “an integral part of the election cycle”.

“Obviously I want to spend most of my time talking directly to voters,” he added.

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Sir Keir said he could have “100 debates with Rishi Sunak, but I know what he is going to say”.

“He will say that everything is fine, that the cost of living crisis has passed and that the health service has no problem.

“And that’s all it says.

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“Of course there will be debates, but now it sounds a bit desperate.”

However, Sir Keir did not commit to the Sky News leaders’ event in Grimsby, one of our picks. target cities, saying there will be “negotiations about what exactly we are doing.”

It comes after Sir Keir was accused of “cowering” in weekly clashes during the election campaign and even of branded a “coward” by his political opponents.

Last night Sunak challenged him to take part in six television confrontations in which issues such as taxes, the cost of living and security were debated.

But Labor said Sir Keir would not agree to “break” the format established in previous elections “just to satisfy this week’s whims of the Conservative party”.

They indicated that Sir Keir would be willing to take part in two debates: with the BBC and ITV.

Television election debates took off in the UK in the 2010 general election, when Gordon Brown, Lord David Cameron and Sir Nick Clegg took part in three debates, on ITV, Sky News and the BBC.

Rishi Sunak talks to workers at the Vale of Glamorgan Brewery in Barry, Wales

Realistically, the television schedule for June and early July is full of group stages and knockout matches of the Euro 2024 football tournament – with England the favorite – meaning that six election debates are highly unlikely.

In his interview with Sky News, Sir Keir defended a series of policy U-turns, saying they are the “practical reality of Tory damage to the economy”.

Sir Keir has been criticized for backtracking on many promises that won him the Labor leadership, such as scrapping university tuition fees and converting public services into public ownership.

He said the state of the economy meant he had to prioritize other issues, such as NHS waiting lists.

“I advocated scrapping tuition fees, you are absolutely right about that,” Sir Keir said.

“Now that the economy has been damaged, we have to make a decision.”

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He added: “We have (NHS) waiting lists amounting to almost eight million – there is no money available to do both.

“In the end, if you can’t do both, you have to make a decision. I have made a political decision.

“It’s the practical reality of the damage the Conservatives have done to the economy.”

Sir Keir is in Scotland today to launch the party’s general election campaign north of the border.

Labor will need to win back many seats in its old traditional centers if it is to secure a majority when voters go to the polls on July 4.

Sir Keir will promote his plan for a public clean energy company, which will be based in Scotland.

Meanwhile, Sunak will be in Northern Ireland for the fourth leg of his UK tour.