‘Starmer beat Sunak 44% to 39% in ITV debate’

Savanta said that on the issues, its survey respondents gave Keir wins on immigration (45% to 37% for Sunak) and on defence and security (43% to 41%)…reports Asian Lite News

Keir Starmer beat Rishi Sunak by 44% to 39% in Tuesday night’s campaign debate, according to a new poll from Savanta conducted entirely after the clash concluded on ITV.

It contrasted with a snap poll done during the debate by YouGov which scored Prime Minister Sunak on 51% to 49% for the Labour leader, as the two leaders went head to head for the first time ahead of the general election on July 4.

Savanta said that on the issues, its survey respondents gave Keir wins on immigration (45% to 37% for Sunak) and on defence and security (43% to 41%).

The Labour leader was well ahead on the NHS and public services (63% versus 25%), plus the economy and cost of living (52% to 36%).

“According to our overnight panel, Starmer wins on the detail, but Sunak is much closer in the most important ‘who won the debate’ metric,” Savanta’s Political Research Director Chris Hopkins said.

“Presentationally, it felt like the Prime Minister had the upper hand at times – in particular towards the end of the debate – and although our figures suggest he lost narrowly, he probably still outperformed expectations,” he said.

Keir also beat the PM on every personality-based question posed by Savanta, including: who came across as most honest (54% to 29%), who gave the most thoughtful answers (53% to 35%) and who remained the calmest (51% to 36%).

Sunak came into the debate under pressure to come out firing, on the back of big surveys by YouGov and More In Common that pointed to a drubbing for the Tories in four weeks’ time. He did that by repeatedly alleging that Labour plans a £2,000 tax raid on British households.

Keir was slow to counter the claim during the debate, before branding Mr Sunak the “British expert on tax rises” and insisting his rival could not be trusted after 14 years of Tory rule.

Commenting on the tax claim, Labour shadow frontbencher Jonathan Ashworth said on Wednesday morning: “That is a desperate lie by Rishi Sunak.”

On other issues, the PM was jeered by the audience for claiming that NHS waiting lists are coming down.

Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Claire Coutinho conceded on BBC Breakfast that they had gone up from when Sunak promised to cut them, but insisted that the Tory tax claims were justified by Treasury costings.

Ross stands by Sunak’s £2,000 tax claim

Douglas Ross has said he stands by the Prime Minister’s claim that a Labour government would raise taxes by £2,000 while Starmer’s party calls it a “lie”.

The Scottish Conservative leader said Keir had not been “agile” enough to properly dispute the figure during Tuesday-night’s debate.

Sunak repeatedly voiced the claim during his ITV head-to-head debate with Keir, saying “independent Treasury officials” have costed Labour’s policies “and they amount to a £2,000 tax rise for everyone”.

On Wednesday morning, it emerged that a senior Treasury official had reminded ministers not to say civil servants were behind their claim about Labour’s policies.

Ross visited the Oil States International plant in West Lothian, which manufactures components for the offshore industry, as he sought to highlight the Tories’ commitment to the sector.

Asked by the PA news agency if he stood by the claim, he said: “Yes, Labour will put up people’s taxes and it’s not just the Prime Minister saying that, Keir Starmer didn’t refute it. He didn’t come back during the debate and say they wouldn’t.”

When it was put to him that Labour are strongly disputing the claim, Ross said: “It’s interesting he didn’t do it during the debate. If he can’t be agile during a debate and refute it at the time, that tells you the story. That tells you that Labour will put up taxes on hardworking people here in Scotland and across the UK. In contrast, you’ve got the Conservatives reducing taxes.”

The Scottish Conservative leader said the £2,000 figure came from special advisers working with ministers.

Shadow Scotland secretary Ian Murray said: “Rishi Sunak is a liar who has resorted to using made-up figures to try and revive his flagging campaign.

“This is a sign of how chaotic and desperate the Tory campaign has become.

“The Tories have hiked tax 26 times and made £71 billion worth of unfunded promises – the only person putting public finances at risk is Rishi Sunak.

“Labour will treat public money with respect and we will not hike income tax, national insurance or VAT.”

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