Election latest: Rishi Sunak questioned on 'catalogue of broken promises' - as Sir Keir Starmer likened to 'political robot' (2024)

Battle For No 10 - Sky News leaders' event
  • Catch-up:The main things you need to know after Beth Rigby and studio audience question Sunak and Starmer
  • Almost two-thirds of voters think Starmer did better - poll
  • View from the spin room: How parties thought their men got on
  • Beth Rigby:There is a change in dynamic here
  • Jon Craig:Starmer raised his game - and Sunak looked flat
  • Live reporting by Charlotte Chelsom-Pill,Emily Mee,Katie WilliamsandFaye Brown
Did Sunak revive chances?
  • PM admits 'it hasn't been an easy 18 months'
  • Sunak says 'he was right' to oppose Liz Truss' policies
  • Rigby points to Brexit and NHS in 'catalogue of broken promises'
  • Analysis:Sunak has mountain to climb after D-Day gaffe
How did Starmer fare?
  • Labour leader denies ditching most of his previous pledges
  • Starmer challenged over prior positions on Corbyn and Brexit
  • And he reveals 'only fear' about potentially becoming PM
  • Fact check:Campaign promises in spotlight|Is a tax rise on cards?
Election essentials
  • Check parties' manifesto pledges:Conservatives|Greens|Lib Dems
  • Campaign Heritage:Memorable moments from elections gone by
  • Trackers:Who's leading polls?|Is PM keeping promises?
  • Follow Sky's politics podcasts:Electoral Dysfunction|Politics At Jack And Sam's
  • Read more:Who is standing down?|Key seats to watch|How to register to vote|What counts as voter ID?|Check if your constituency is changing|Your essential guide to election lingo|Sky's election night plans



Thanks for joining us for what's been a massive night in the campaign calendar as Sky hosted The Battle for Number 10.

It saw Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer scrutinised by political editor Beth Rigby and audience members in Grimsby.

We are pausing our coverage here for the evening.

But if you missed anything - or just can't get enough - you can scroll back through our minute-by-minute updates below.

You can also check out our summary of the key moments here:

Take a look at our recap of the leaders' responses on the main issues facing the country here:

Plus, you can see how viewers thought both leaders performed here:

We will be back first thing tomorrow morning for another busy day, with Labour next in line to launch their election manifesto.

Until then, goodnight!


Sharon from Grimsby 'appreciates' Starmer's honesty on U-turns

By Faye Brown, political reporter, in Grimsby

The first audience member to ask a question tonight was Sharon from Grimsby.

I caught up with her afterwards and she tells me she was generally happy with the Labour leader's answer on her question about what he could do for the local community, such as devolution, but there's more that needs to be done to tackle poverty.

She says she is very involved in her community and has seen first hand the impact of austerity - from people choosing between heating and eating, to parents relying on uniform banks and "diabolical" housing conditions.

She says she has always been a Labour voter, but her support for Sir Keir is "strengthened" after tonight.

She says she's glad Sir Keir has changed the party and realised "he needs to put the country first" - so she isn't angry about the U-turns he has made on on many of his leadership pledges.

"I appreciate the honesty, there are going to be tough decisions".

She says her message to the Labour leader is, "we're giving you a chance, don't waste it".

"I am just hoping we get that change that is so needed and we can start to look forward to positive change.

"Local people being able to make decisions about their local towns, that's really important."


Labour MP responds to audience laughing at 'my father was a toolmaker'

At this point, we are all aware that Sir Keir Starmer's dad was a toolmaker.

He has brought it up on plenty of occasions, including during the first election debate - and tonight, when the comment earned some laughter from the audience.

Asked why people may have laughed at this, Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth said: "Perhaps because they know that he talks about it quite a lot but, as he said, he's very proud of coming from that working class background, as I'm very proud of coming from a working class background as well.

"And I think the issue in politics is when politicians try to pretend they were hard up when they weren't, perhaps saying that they didn't have access to this new thing called satellite TV back in the 1990s as if that somehow indicates they were short of a few bob."

That last comment is a reference to Rishi Sunak earlier saying he went without Sky TV as a child.


Starmer 'best chance we've got' - but both leaders told to 'show us respect'

By Faye Brown, political reporter

Lauren Smith, 35, says that overall she was impressed by Sir Keir Starmer this evening and he will be getting her vote.

But she said she felt frustrated by both leaders for their "Americanised style" - something she described as a "lack of want or ability to answer a question straight on".

"After what the country has been through, we need someone to be able to answer a question," she says.

"I would like to see them stand true to themselves and to their word... and show us a bit of respect."

She says Rishi Sunak in particular is "treating us like idiots" with his comments on the cost of living - saying that while inflation is coming down, the cost of things is not.

And Lauren has seen first hand the impact of this. She lives on the East Marsh in Grimsby - "one of the poorest wards in Britain".

"The deprivation is incredulous... the poverty, it's the consequence of so much austerity," she says.

She says she has always leaned towards Labour and while she thinks there are things Sir Keir can do better she has a fondness for him that "remained resolute" after tonight.

"He's our best chance of getting a grown up in politics. Not too centre, not too left".

And she says that this seemed to be the overall vibe from the audience too, saying that despite efforts to "soundproof the room" she could hear people outside "booing Mr Sunak quite ferociously" when he arrived.

She points to the revolving door of recent Tory leaders that Beth Rigby touched upon in her questioning.

"We have had enough. We are struggling, we need change we can believe in. We've had a complete roller-coaster and we need something steady."


SNP: Scotland not represented during leaders' debate

Scotland's deputy first minister Kate Forbes says Scottish voters are angry at the Conservatives and uninspired by Labour following the Sky News leaders' event.

Neither Sir Keir Starmer or Rishi Sunak gave much attention to Scotland during their time on stage being grilled by Sky Newspolitical editor Beth Rigby or when taking questions from the audience.

Asked by Sky's lead politics presenter Sophy Ridge who she thought performed best in Grimsby, Forbes said: "I think looking at the debate this evening with only a passing mention of Scotland, voters are very angry with the Conservatives and they're very uninspired with Labour.

"And of course, in Scotland there is an alternative to vote for the SNP."

She continued: "We know that in this election voters really want to see change. They want to get rid of the Conservatives because they've given us austerity, Brexit and the cost of living crisis.

"And the question is whether Labour will double down on Tory austerity or do something different. And Sir Keir Starmer seemed pretty clear tonight that he was doubling down on Tory austerity."

Tonight's event saw Sir Keir pushed to explain his tax plans, saying he "won't reach for the tax lever" to solve Britain's problems.

Asked by Ridge whether she thought Labour would go ahead and put up taxes if Sir Keir reached Number Ten, Forbes said: "In Scotland we've tried to mitigate against that austerity with some progressive changes, taxation.

"But Labour seem to be completely ignorant and disinterested in how we reverse 14 years of austerity to our public finances.

"And to quote the Labour health secretary when it comes to devolved public services - 'all roads lead back to Westminster', so this really is a change election.

"Unfortunately, I don't think voters going down the Labour route are going to see much in the way of change, and we need strong Scottish voices, SNP MPs to hold Labour's feet to the fire and make sure they don't forget about Scottish voters."


Undecided voter not convinced by 'defeatist' Sunak - but says Starmer 'more of the same'

By Faye Brown, political reporter, in Grimsby

I've just caught up with Amy Green, 42, an undecided voter who is.. still undecided after tonight's event.

Amy was the audience member who asked Rishi Sunak questions about his D-day gaffe and the partgate scandal, telling him he had a lot of work to do to regain the people's trust again.

Did he regain her trust tonight?

Amy says she has always been a Conservative voter but the prime minister appeared "really defeatist".

However she feels like Labour are "parking their tanks in the Conservatives lawn" and she's not quite convinced by their vision either.

"It felt like more of the same".

I ask Amy what are the issues she cares about most.

She says LGBT rights, as she has lots of friends who are drag queens, and she does not like the "cheap political point scoring" from the Tories about knowing what a woman is.

Education and the NHS are the other two main issues for her.

She's going to see how the rest of the campaign pans out, but she said she is "not against spoiling her ballot".

"I would rather do that and not vote, I've got some work to do in the next few weeks".


'There is a change in dynamic here': Beth Rigby gives her take on leaders' event

Sky's political editor and leaders' event inquisitor Beth Rigby says there was a key moment tonight which showed "there is a change of dynamic here".

She is giving her take after having a front-row seat to Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer's performances.

During Sir Keir's Q&A session Beth says he said categorically "when I'm in government".

Usually, Beth says, Sir Keir will caveat his take on the outcome of the election by saying "if I'm lucky enough" to win.

She describes it as the "most revealing moment" from the Labour leader.

"I think there is a change in dynamic here where Labour are feeling more confident now," Beth says.

She also says there was a "bit more clarity about Labour and tax", and that she "came away thinking yeah, they're going to put up some taxes".

On Rishi Sunak, Beth says the audience dynamic in the room was "hard going" for the prime minister as he made his first big public appearance since the fiasco over him leaving D-Day commemorations early.

We got "more emotion" from Mr Sunak about the D-Day commemoration, she says, adding that one of the strongest audience questions came from a "lifelong true blue" voter who said his early departure make her feel "ashamed”.

Asked by Sophy Ridge how she prepared for tonight's event, Beth cites Sky's very own Kay Burley.

She says Kay's advice to her has been "fail to prepare, prepare to fail".

"I prepared a lot," she says, "so by the time you get to it, you're ready to go".


Audience reaction to Sunak's answers 'spoke volumes' - Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrats' deputy leader Daisy Cooper says tonight's audience in Grimsby and the public at home could see through Rishi Sunak's answers during the Sky News leaders' event.

Asked by Sky's lead politics presenter Sophy Ridge who she thought won the Battle for Number 10, Ms Cooper said the audiences' reaction to the PM told the tale of the tape.

She said: "I think the audience's reaction spoke volumes about this evening, didn't it? And when they were listening to Rishi Sunak's answers, you could see it in their faces and in their questions.

"Their reaction was one of either exasperation or just pure anger. And I think we can see that people were just so exasperated and angry about the state of the country, about the state of the NHS, about the state of our education system.

"And there was this overwhelming sense from the public that just everything is broken."

As for her thoughts on Sir Keir Starmer and his grilling from Beth Rigby over Labour's tax policy, Ms Cooper said she was expecting more tomorrow once the opposition's manifesto was released.

"I think every political party needs to be open and honest about the taxes that they are going to rise or lower or leave the same," she added.

"What I can say for our poll as Liberal Democrats is that we have said repeatedly that we won't be raising taxes on struggling families during a cost of living crisis, because that would be the wrong thing to do.

"Like many people, I'm sort of waiting to see what the what the meat on the bones is going to be tomorrow in terms of their manifesto.

"But I think really what the what you can see from the audience is that they are crying out for a change and most of their anger and frustration was really directed towards the prime minister."


'Step up and stick to your guns': Audience heckler sends Sunak a message

ByFaye Brown, political reporter

I've just been catching up with members of the audience to get their views on tonight's event.

Jackie Weavill, who shouted out at Mr Sunak during his questioning on the NHS, said she felt compelled to take him to task as his comments about investing into NHS hubs were not the reality she is seeing on the ground.

The NHS quality governance manager says her whole family works for the NHS, and she sees every day the problems it is facing.

She says there are "nursing shortages, staff are sick, they're mentally at their wits end, fighting battles every day, doctors especially the young ones really get hammered".

She says Rishi Sunak thinks "it's going to be sunshine and roses".

"It might be for the big cities but not it's not here," she adds.

Even so, she's a "Conservative through and through" and will vote for them at the election out of her loyalty to the party and because she "doesn't trust Labour".

"They left areas like this destitute when they were last in government," she says.

But in true northern style she does not mince her words when asked what her message would be to Rishi Sunak.

"Pick something and do it. Don't fanny around, say what you are going to do and do it.

"Step up and stick to your guns."


Analysis: Starmer raised his game - and a telling line showed he knows it

No wonder Rishi Sunak wanted a head-to-head debate with Sir Keir Starmer. After being credited with a narrow win in last week's ITV debate, here he came off second best.

The prime minister was flat under tough interrogation by Sky News political editor Beth Rigby. And he found the audience was hostile towards him on the NHS, the economy and even on immigration.

From the outset, Sir Keir clearly realised he needed to raise his game after last week, when he was too sluggish in challenging or rebutting Mr Sunak's £2,000 Labour tax grab allegation.

And by the time the 90-minute programme came to an end, Mr Sunak looked deflated by the audience criticism and almost looked as if he couldn't wait for it to end.

Mr Sunak even stumbled into a blunder that will reinforce the claim by his critics that this millionaire prime minister is out of touch.

When a father asked about his daughter's struggle to buy a house, he talked about a house costing £425,000.

A Rightmove search for Grimsby reveals out of 914 properties currently listed for sale in the town, only 13 are on for £425,000 or more. His political opponents will seize on that.

And after his pummelling on tax last week, Sir Keir wasted no time hitting back, declaring he'd take no lectures from the Tories on the subject.

Mr Sunak, on the other hand, was flat - the D-Day fiasco appears to have damaged the PM's confidence.

And so Sir Keir leaves Grimsby for Labour's manifesto launch in the morning in good heart, with three weeks until polling day for the Tories to turn things around.

Sir Keir even said at one point: "The first day we get into government."

Beth Rigby instantly picked him up his momentary lapse. He just smiled.

Election latest: Rishi Sunak questioned on 'catalogue of broken promises' - as Sir Keir Starmer likened to 'political robot' (2024)
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