General Election 2024: Key moments from first TV debate between Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer | Politics News

The leaders of the two main parties clashed on Tuesday night in their first debate of the general election campaign.

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer argued over issues including tax, the NHS, immigration and the cost of living in a debate that at times seemed bad-tempered, as the two men were repeatedly told to stop talking over each other on the debate on ITV.

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Below, Sky News looks at some of the key moments:

Tax & the economy

Rishi Sunak claimed Labour’s plans for the country were not costed and would require tax rises of £2,000. He pointed to the Conservatives bringing inflation down, cutting NI and his pledge to cut taxes for pensioners through the “triple lock plus” as reasons why people should vote for him.

Sir Keir said Mr Sunak’s £2,000 claim was “absolute garbage” and his plans are fully costed. He pointed out the tax burden has risen to the highest level in 70 years under the Tories and used Mr Sunak’s vast personal wealth to suggest he doesn’t understand the cost of living crisis.

More on General Election 2024


Rishi Sunak was groaned at and laughed at for claiming waiting lists were coming down and blaming industrial action on the backlog.

Sir Keir pointed to Labour’s plans to create 40,000 new appointments while bigging up his credentials as the husband of an NHS worker.

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Rishi Sunak came out fighting and just about shaded it

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Rishi Sunak said parents who “work hard” should be allowed to send their children to private schools, in an attack on Labour’s VAT policy.

Sir Keir that one of Labour’s first steps would be to recruit 6,500 teachers to fill gaps, and he “will get rid of the tax break on private schools to pay for it, that’s a tough choice, I do understand that”.


Sunak offered his strongest suggestion yet that he could be willing to leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) if the government’s stalled Rwanda deportation plan remains blocked by the courts, but said flights should be taking off in July.

Sir Keir said the UK risked becoming a “pariah” state if it left international conventions and pointed to his plan to target criminal people-smuggling gangs to stop small boat crossings.


Sunak defended his decision to water down policies designed to help the UK reach net zero carbon emissions, saying the targets will still be met, it will cost households less, and maintain the UK’s energy security.

Sir Keir said there was a “huge opportunity” in the renewable energy sphere that would see cheaper bills, energy security for the UK, and more jobs. He said he will deliver clean power by 2030, despite scaling back the initial investment he intended to put forward to get there.


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