Sunak’s D-Day exit and the economy: key points from the BBC General Election debate

The economy and Rishi Sunak’s early departure from D-Day celebrations were among the key topics discussed, as representatives from the seven largest political parties went up against each other this evening in the BBC’s 2024 General Election Debate.

Members from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Reform UK, SNP, Plaid Cymru, and the Green Party all took turns to answer questions from the audience in the 90-minute-long debate.

The first point of discussion raised was on Rishi Sunak leaving the D-Day 80th anniversary ceremony early on Thursday, a move for which he has since been heavily criticised.

This meant the Prime Minister was absent in a photo with President Joe Biden, France’s Emmanuel Macron, and Germany’s Olaf Scholz, with the Foreign Secretary David Cameron standing in for him.

Amidst her fellow panel members condemning his actions, Conservative Penny Mordaunt pushed that Sunak has apologised for his actions, both to his party and to the British people.

She did however, acknowledge that the decision was “completely wrong”.

Another key issue issue that stood out in the debate was the state of the UK’s economy.

Mordaunt raised her party’s claims that Labour will allegedly raise taxes by £2,000 multiple times throughout the debate.

She said the UK’s economy is growing faster than that of the US and is coping better with inflation than Europe, pushing her point again that this election has to be about cutting taxes.

The UK statistics watchdog has warned the Conservative Party about its claim, saying it did not demonstrate how this final sum was reached.

Liberal Democrat Daisy Cooper said: “We just have to look at the damage the Conservatives have done since 2015.”

She added that “everything feels broken, nothing works”, earning her a round of applause from the audience.

Knife crime was one of the questions debated on later in the programme, with the Green Party, the SNP and Plaid Cymru all making the claim that poverty is the leading cause in knife crime.

Stephen Flynn from the Scottish National Party pointed out that “serious knife crime is comparatively low” in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK.

He added: “I’m afraid that Westminster does not offer that hope and optimism right now.”

The Green Party’s Carla Denyer said young people growing up without the services they need is a leading cause: “Not all crime can be tackled by being tough.”

Along the same vein, Labour’s Angela Rayner said that it is “very sad” to see how frightened young people are by knife crime, and pushed that educating young people is the way to tackle with knife crime.

Rayner and Mordaunt clashed repeatedly, shouting over each other on multiple occasions with Denyer at one point quipping: “That was terribly dignified, wasn’t it?”

Meanwhile, Reform UK leader Nigel Farage claimed it should be an “immigration election” and encouraged voters to “join the revolt”.

However, Plaid Cymru’s leader Rhun ap Iorwerth hit back, accusing Farage of “bigotry” when it came to his politics.

This was the second debate of the 2024 General Election, the first having featured Sunak and Keir Starmer going head-to-head on Tuesday.

The next debate is Sky’s Leaders’ Special Event on 12 June, and will again have the two party leaders battling it out from 7pm to 10pm.

You can check out all of the Londoners’ general election coverage here.

Featured Image Credit: Sergeant Tom Robinson RLC/MOD

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