I wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, Starmer says

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar in Bathgate - Wattie Cheung

Sir Keir Starmer has said that he would not use private healthcare even if his children were ill.

The Labour Party leader said he would not go private even in a case of chronic illness because the NHS is “absolutely the best” at treating acute health problems.

Sir Keir has said repeatedly during the election campaign that he would always choose to use the NHS.

Doubling down on his previous remarks, he told GB News on Friday that he would not “jump the queue” – even if his children were seriously ill.

“On acute care, people said, ‘well, what if your child was really ill?’,” he said. “On acute care, the NHS is absolutely the best, so much so that private hospitals refer into the NHS. So if we had an acute case, I’d want to be treated by the NHS.”

Pressed on whether this would be the same for a chronic condition, he insisted: “No I wouldn’t. I’m not going to say to the country, ‘I’m going to drive down your waiting lists but I’m going to pay to sort of accelerate myself to the front of the queue’.”

Sir Keir went on to say that if he was prime minister his cabinet would be free to go private if they wished, adding: “I’m not ideological about it.”

The Labour leader said in the first head-to-head election debate with Rishi Sunak on June 4 that he, his wife and his children would not use private healthcare for life-saving treatment.

“No, I don’t use private health,” he said. “I use the NHS. That’s where my wife works, in one of the big hospitals; as I said, it runs through my DNA.”

The following week, on a Sky News leaders’ special on July 12, he said he uses a private dentist.

“We’re at an NHS dentist practice, but I’m private because I’m an adult and therefore don’t get it on the NHS,” he said. “But our kids get NHS dentistry and I believe in it.”

Adults can access NHS dentistry, but usually have to pay a fee to cover the cost.

Free NHS dentistry care is only available to under-18s, women who are pregnant or have had a baby in the last 12 months, and to those on low-income benefits.

On June 14, Sir Keir insisted in a BBC interview with Nick Robinson that he was “not hostile” to private health care users.

“I’m not hostile in the slightest,” he said. “I completely understand why people would go private.

“I know people who have because they wanted to have an operation more quickly, to get back to work or get back to something else.”

10:00 PM BST

That’s all for today...

Thank you for following today’s election liveblog.

We will be back tomorrow to bring you the latest from the campaign across the weekend.

09:35 PM BST

Pictured: Starmer takes campaigning break to see Taylor Swift at Wembley

Sir Keir Starmer has taken a night off from election campaigning to attend the Taylor Swift Eras Tour at Wembley Stadium this evening.

The Labour leader shared a photograph of himself and his wife, Victoria, in the stalls as Swift was on stage.

He wrote: “‘Swift’ campaigning pitstop.”

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Sir Keir Starmer and Victoria Starmer at the Taylor Swift eras tour at Wembley Stadium

09:32 PM BST

JK Rowling accuses Starmer over ‘abandoning women’ concerned over trans issues

JK Rowling has accused Sir Keir Starmer of “abandoning women” who are concerned over trans issues.

The author and campaigner accused Labour of being “dismissive and often offensive towards women”.

On Thursday night’s BBC Question Time, the Labour leader was asked whether he agreed with Rosie Duffield, Labour candidate, on the issue of sex and gender.

Ms Duffield has long argued that spaces for biological women need to be protected, and that trans women should not be viewed as the same as biological women.

He replied that he now believed the same as Sir Tony Blair, that men had penises and women vaginas.

She wrote in The Times: “As long as Labour remains dismissive and often offensive towards women fighting to retain the rights their foremothers thought were won for all time, I’ll struggle to support them.”

She added: “The women who wouldn’t wheesht [be quiet] didn’t leave Labour. Labour abandoned them.”

09:19 PM BST

Starmer tells voters to ‘check our track record’ on fuel duty freeze

Sir Keir Starmer has refused to rule out unfreezing fuel duty if Labour get into government, but told voters to “check our track record” on the issue.

The Labour leader told GB News: “We’re very sensitive to this because we know how impactful it is.

“Every year we’ve supported the position of keeping that frozen. It’s a budget-by-budget issue, but I would say to anyone who’s concerned on this, check our track record on this.”

Last week, Wes Streeting said: “Rachel has shown time and again that she understands the pressures on motorists and the pressures of the prices of the pumps.”

08:56 PM BST

Cleverly: Farage is ‘echoing Putin’ over Ukraine war claims

08:43 PM BST

Keir Starmer accused of misogyny over change in gender views

Sir Keir Starmer has been accused of misogyny by women’s rights groups, who said he had only changed his views on gender after listening to a man.

On Thursday night’s BBC Question Time, the Labour leader was asked whether he agreed with Rosie Duffield, Labour candidate, on the issue of sex and gender.

Ms Duffield has long argued that spaces for biological women need to be protected, and that trans women should not be viewed as the same as biological women.

He replied that he now believed the same as Sir Tony Blair, that men had penises and women vaginas.

Read more on this story here

08:37 PM BST

Guy Verhofstadt reacts to Farage’s Ukraine war claims: ‘Every vote for Farage is celebrated in Moscow’

08:23 PM BST

Pictured: Nigel Farage on Panorama

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Nigel Farage appearing during a BBC General Election interview Panorama special hosted by Nick Robinson - Jeff Overs/BBC/PA

08:15 PM BST

Starmer: I am truly patriotic

Sir Keir Starmer has described himself as “truly patriotic”.

The Labour leader refused to be drawn on whether or not he was more patriotic than Nigel Farage, and admitted his patriotism may be seen as “quiet”.

But he told GB News: “I’m truly patriotic in that my mission if you like, the very reason I came into politics, is to improve our country and improve the lives of millions of people in our country. Very proud of our country. I’m very proud to sit in front of the Union Jack. I did it when I represented our country as chief prosecutor.

“But the passion in me, yes, it is perhaps a quiet passion, is to improve this country, to genuinely take it forward. I think most people in this country are reasonable, tolerant, live and let live.”

08:09 PM BST

I would not use private healthcare if my children were suffering from chronic illness

Sir Keir Starmer has said he would not use private healthcare for his children even in the case of chronic illness.

The Labour leader said on Sky News last week that he would not use private healthcare even if a relative were stuck on an NHS waiting list.

Asked about his comments, Sir Keir told GB News: “On acute care, people have said, ‘Well, what if your child was really ill?’ On acute care, the NHS is absolutely the best, so much so that private hospitals refer into the NHS. So if we had an acute case, I’d want to be treated by the NHS.”

Pressed on whether this would be the same for chronic illness, he said: “No I wouldn’t. I’m not going to say to the country, I’m going to drive down your waiting lists but I’m going to pay to accelerate myself to the front of the queue.”

07:40 PM BST

People who have savings are ‘working people’ says Starmer

The definition of “working people” would cover “quite a lot of people who do have savings”, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

The Labour leader had come under fire earlier this week after suggesting that his pledge not to raise the burden on “working people” did not include those who had money set aside. Rachel Reeves later appeared to broaden the definition.

But Sir Keir Starmer appeared to change his stance this evening, telling GB News: “Working people are people who work for a living. They pay their National Insurance, they pay their income tax, and they, broadly speaking, don’t have wherewithal to write a big cheque when they get into trouble financially.

He added: “Now, that will be many millions of people who don’t have very much in savings. It now would actually cover quite a lot of people who do have savings.”

07:28 PM BST

Candidate vetting blunders were because Reform was ‘desperate’ for people, says Farage

Reform UK has had issues with vetting its candidates because the party was “so desperate for people to stand”, Nigel Farage has claimed.

There have been several instances where Reform candidates have made the headlines for comments they had made on social media, including one describing Adolf Hitler as “brilliant”.

Asked about the problems with candidate vetting, Mr Farage said: “I think the truth of it is, before I got involved, Reform was virtual, in the sense that... there was no national party structure.”

He distanced himself from the candidates, insisting that they were not in the party because of him.

He added: “I have had no involvement with the day to day running of the party for over three years. These candidates were recruited before I said I was going to play an active role in the party, and frankly, they were so desperate for people to stand, that people stood and then we employed a big vetting company that didn’t do the job.”

07:24 PM BST

Farage praises visa system where overstays mean ‘they will smash your door down and put you in handcuffs’

Nigel Farage has appeared to praise the US for its visa system where “they will smash your door down, put you in handcuffs and deport you from the country” for overstaying a visa.

Asked about his answer on how to tackle migration, Mr Farage said: “If you get a job with CNN, you will get a one or two year work permit, you’ll go to New York, you’ll work for CNN.

“If you overstay your work permit by one day, they will smash your  door down, put you in handcuffs and deport you from the country.  We have been completely confusing work visas with permanent right to stay.”

Asked by the BBC’s Nick Robinson if he believed that should happen in the UK, Mr Farage said: “Do you know something? A work permit should be a work  permit, should be a work permit.”

07:22 PM BST

Reform UK NHS plans could see people paying for a doctor’s appointment

People could be charged for doctors’ appointments under Reform UK’s plans for the NHS, Nigel Farage has suggested.

The Reform UK leader has previously said that there needs to be a new healthcare system in Britain, and has repeatedly praised the system in France.

In France, there is a charge of 25 euros for an appointment for the family doctor, but the money is refunded after the patient has attended.

Pressed on whether he would want such a system in the UK, Mr Farage told BBC’s Panorama: “Well, it costs you nothing to go to the doctor right, because you  get it back, and the reason they do that, and by the way, British  GPs have this problem, is people book appointments and don’t turn  up.

“So, actually, thinking about it, it makes sense.”

07:14 PM BST

Number of migrants to Britain has ‘exploded’ since Brexit, says Farage

The number of migrants has “exploded” since Brexit, the Reform UK leader has said.

Challenged on whether or not Brexit had been a success, Nigel Farage said: “My point is this, there were two realistic expectations from Brexit; one, we control our borders and reduce the numbers coming in; they’ve exploded, they’ve trebled, to numbers you can’t even believe.

“And secondly – and that’s because of a Conservative government that didn’t even try, because their big backers want cheap foreign labour.”

Mr Farage has previously said that he wants there to be net zero migration.

07:08 PM BST

The Tories ‘may as well change their name to the SDP’, says Farage

The right of British politics has “gone” and the Conservatives “may as well change their name to the SDP”, Nigel Farage has said.

Asked about whether he would like to take over the right of UK politics, the Reform UK leader replied: “Well, there isn’t a right of British politics, it’s gone, disappeared.  I mean we’ve had 14 years of Conservative government, they may as well change their name to the SDP.

“It’s been high tax, big state, more control of our lives, damaging period for the 5 and a half million men and women running small businesses, they’ve not even been vaguely Conservative, low tax, free market.”

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Nigel Farage, appearing during a BBC General Election interview Panorama special, reacting to 'Tory wipeout' headline - Jeff Overs/BBC/PA

06:57 PM BST

Who would be the best leader to replace Sunak? Have your say

There has been mounting speculation about which Conservative figure could succeed Rishi Sunak if the Tories lose the general election and the Prime Minister resigns.

Who do you think would be the best leader to replace him? Let us know using The Telegraph’s poll below:

06:42 PM BST

Watch: Nigel Farage says the West provoked the invasion of Ukraine

The West “provoked” the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Nigel Farage has said.

The leader of Reform UK said that the expansion of Nato and the European Union gave Vladimir Putin “an excuse” to go to war with Ukraine.

In an interview with BBC Panorama, Mr Farage said: “I stood up in the European Parliament in 2014 and I said, and I quote, ‘there will be a war in Ukraine.’ Why did I say that? It was obvious to me that the ever-eastward expansion of NATO and the European Union was giving this man a reason to his Russian people to say, ‘They’re coming for us again,’ and to go to war.”

He added: “Hang on a second, we provoked this war. It’s – you know, of course it’s his fault, he’s used what we’ve done as an excuse.”

Asked by Nick Robinson if he meant that “we provoked the invasion of Ukraine”, he replied: “Yes.”

Questioned about previous comments that he “admired” Putin, Mr Farage clarified that he admired him as “a political operator because he’s managed to take control of running Russia”.

06:34 PM BST

Reform reaches 20 per cent in the polls for the first time, and beats the Tories again

Reform UK has reached 20 per cent in the polls for the first time, and once again beating the Conservatives.

A poll by Whitestone Insight for the Daily Mirror put the Tories at 19 per cent, and in third place behind Nigel Farage’s party.

Labour was found to be on 39 per cent, 19 points ahead of Reform UK, while the Liberal Democrats were polling fourth at 12 per cent.

Nigel Farage said of the poll: “This is now the fourth poll that puts us ahead of the Conservatives.

“The inflection point has occurred.”

06:31 PM BST

Corbyn’s head of policy says Labour’s reported tax plans would be ‘corrosive’ without mandate

Jeremy Corbyn’s former head of policy has said that Labour’s reported plans for wealth tax increases would be “corrosive” without an electoral mandate.

Andrew Fisher, who was behind Mr Corbyn’s 2017 manifesto, backed the reported plans to increase capital gains tax and reform inheritance tax to make it more difficult to pass on farmland tax free (see post at 16:39).

But he wrote on X: “But to do this with no electoral mandate for it would be corrosive for trust in politics … If indeed it’s true …”

06:22 PM BST

Theo Paphitis: Starmer has ‘a sense of humour’

Businessman Theo Paphitis has insisted that Sir Keir Starmer has “a sense of humour” in a video endorsement of Labour.

The Dragons’ Den star earlier this week revealed that he had switched his support to back Labour after having lost faith with the Conservatives. He spent the day on the campaign trail with Sir Keir Starmer in Basingstoke.

In a video endorsement for the party, Mr Paphitis said: “After spending nearly a whole day with Keir, I was pleasantly surprised to meet an engaging, charismatic person, and yes, with a sense of humor.

“It’s always very difficult at an election to decide who you’re going to vote for, but I came to my conclusion after seeing the Labour manifesto that they were very much in line with my ethos on business and economy, and that is stability, growth, and wealth creation, and that’s why I decided to vote Labour.”

06:10 PM BST

Farage: King made ‘very stupid comment’ about CO2 being a pollutant

The King made a “very stupid comment” when he described carbon dioxide as a pollutant, Nigel Farage has said.

The Reform UK leader was challenged on BBC’s Panorama about historic comments he had made about the King being an “eco-loony”.

Asked whether he still believed that, he said: “The King, he wasn’t the King then, and I can’t speak ill of the monarch obviously.”

He added: “He did used to say that carbon dioxide was a pollutant which I

thought was a very stupid comment.”

He later said that the King was “wrong to say CO2 is a pollutant, that is wrong, clearly”.

05:54 PM BST

Johnson: Starmer ‘casts serious doubt’ over commitment to Ukraine by Corbyn comments

Boris Johnson has said that Sir Keir Starmer has “cast serious doubt” on Labour’s commitment to supporting Ukraine by saying that Jeremy Corbyn would have made a “better prime minister” than him.

During the BBC Question Time election special on Thursday, Sir Keir said that Mr Corbyn “would be a better prime minister” than “what we got - Boris Johnson, a man who made massive promises and didn’t keep them”.

Responding to the remarks in his Daily Mail column, Mr Johnson wrote: “By endorsing a Corbyn premiership, Starmer has cast serious doubt on Labour’s commitment to Ukraine, and Britain’s commitment to Ukraine under Labour.

“He has reminded us that so many in his party still genuflect to their past, and display a weird deference to ‘Moscow’ – as though Moscow was not now run by a kleptocratic gangster.”

He added: “He must take it back. You can’t back Corbyn and back Ukraine at the same time. Unless he revokes his endorsement of a Corbyn premiership, and makes explicit his support for Ukraine, Keir Starmer is simply not fit to be Prime Minister.”

05:31 PM BST

Pictured: Farage makes a stop at the Clacton amusements

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Nigel Farage playing a 2p machine in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex - Joe Giddens/PA

05:14 PM BST

New Tory attack ad: ‘Once Starmer’s in your wallet, you’ll never get him out’

05:02 PM BST

Rayner: Rishi Sunak must ‘come clean’ over gambling scandal.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner called for the Tories and the Prime Minister to “come clean” and disclose further details of alleged breaches of gambling rules.

During a visit to a manufacturing technology centre near Coventry, Labour’s deputy leader was asked if the Prime Minister should confirm how many people were known to be involved in the election date betting row.

Ms Rayner responded: “I think he should be up front if he knows what the details are. He should explain and inform people about that.

“I think it’s worse for the Conservative Party that they’ve got this drip-feed approach. I think they should just come clean and tell people what’s happened.

She added: “I think a lot of people are starting to make their minds up now because we’ve had a pattern of behaviour. It’s not just one issue that we’ve seen now with the betting scandal. We’ve had time and time again… this approach of self-service as opposed to service for the country.”

04:46 PM BST

What are the current inheritance tax rules for farmland?

Farming families are currently able to claim agricultural inheritance tax relief when it comes to their land.

The relief allows them to pass down land and buildings from generation to generation without having to pay hefty death duties.

In 2020-21, the latest year for which figures are available, the tax break was worth £1 billion and was claimed by 1,300 agricultural estates.

Many farmers also benefit from a separate business tax relief, which allows family companies to be handed down free of inheritance tax.

04:42 PM BST

Jeremy Hunt accuses Labour of ‘lack of honesty’ amid wealth tax plan reports

Jeremy Hunt has claimed that there is a “lack of honesty” from Labour over tax, after it was reported that the party is drawing up plans for wealth tax rises worth up to £10 billion.

The Chancellor accused Labour of “privately telling the media that they are already planning a series of big new tax rises on people’s family homes, pensions and small businesses which they do not intend to set out before the election on 4 July”.

He added: “This lack of honesty from Labour is exactly why people will be concerned about the prospect of an unaccountable Labour majority that will raise taxes however and whenever it wants. Keir Starmer should have the courage and conviction to be honest with the British people about the tax rises Labour are planning.”

04:39 PM BST

Labour ‘drawing up plans for £10bn extra wealth taxes’

Labour is drawing up plans for wealth tax rises worth up to £10 billion, according to reports.

The Guardian reported that proposals are circulating within the party to increase capital gains tax and reform inheritance tax to make it more difficult to pass on farmland tax free.

The measures taken together could raise up to £10 billion.

Sir Keir Starmer has regularly insisted that Labour will not raise taxes on “working people”, listing income tax, National Insurance and VAT.

It is understood that party insiders question the existence of the memo made reference to by The Guardian and were not provided with enough specific information by the newspaper to identify it.

However, a Labour spokesperson did not explicitly rule out the possibility of the wealth tax rises.

They said: “Keir and Rachel have made clear that our priority is growing the economy, not increasing taxes. We have set out fully costed, fully funded plans, with very specific tax loopholes we would close. Nothing in our plans requires any additional tax to be increased.”

04:15 PM BST

Who should I vote for in the general election?

Play our manifesto knockout game to find out where you really lean on four of the biggest election issues.

You can find the quiz here.

04:00 PM BST

Tories raised less than £300,000 in week two of the campaign., new figures reveal

The Tories raised less than £300,000 in the second week of the election, a figure dwarfed by the £4.2 million received by Labour, the Electoral Commission has revealed.

The Conservative Party raised just £292,500 between June 6 and 12, taking its total donations for the campaign to £889,000.

In the first two weeks of the 2019 campaign, the Tories raised £8.7 million.

Meanwhile, Labour raised £4.2 million in the second week, partly through a £2.5 million donation from former supermarket boss Lord David Sainsbury.

Other significant donors include Autoglass boss Gary Lubner, who gave £900,000, and hedge fund manager Martin Taylor, who gave £700,000.

03:51 PM BST

Cleverly: Accepting Farage into the Tories would be like embracing George Galloway

James Cleverly has compared accepting Nigel Farage into the Conservatives to the party taking in Workers Party of Britain leader George Galloway, as he said the Reform UK leader wanted to “destroy” them.

The Home Secretary told The Times: “You go back further into the history of our party, with the Poor Laws, and he keeps standing up saying, ‘I want to smash it all to bits’. You’re asking, would I welcome him? Of course not.

“Why don’t you ask me if I would embrace George Galloway into the party? He’s not a member of my party. He doesn’t share my party’s interests and he’s been very explicit that he wants to destroy my party.”

He added: “Let’s take it away from politics. We are all watching football at the moment. I’m an Arsenal fan. Imagine someone said, ‘I want to destroy Arsenal as a football club. I want to rip down the Emirates. I want to destroy everything that you stand for. Oh, and by the way, what are your thoughts on me playing for Arsenal?’ Well no.”

03:34 PM BST

Cleverly: There is ‘no affection for Labour on the doorsteps, but it would be ‘daft’ to ignore the polls

James Cleverly has insisted that there is “no affection for Labour at all” on the doorstep, but admits that it would be “daft” to “completely ignore” the polls.

The Home Secretary said that he would continue to take “the Conservative message to voters”, believing that the party still has “agency”.

In an interview with The Times, Mr Cleverly said: “We’d be daft to look at the opinion polls and just completely ignore them. But I talk to people on the doorstep and there is no affection for Labour at all.

“There’s frustration in parts with us. We’ve had a good record, but it’s been tough headwinds. I don’t think Labour have sealed the deal.”

“Am I going to stop campaigning and just spend the rest of the campaign watching the football? What am I supposed to do, other than continuing to do what I was going to do anyway, which is taking the Conservative message to voters, highlighting the deficiencies in the Labour position? We have agency.”

03:20 PM BST

In pictures: Reform UK continues to campaign

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Nigel Farage pictured at the BBC Broadcasting House - MAHI/Mattpapz / BACKGRID

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

A Reform Party activist hands out party material outside their offices in Clacton-on-Sea - Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe

03:10 PM BST

Reeves: Gordon Brown and George Osborne have given me advice

Rachel Reeves has revealed that she has received advice from Gordon Brown and George Osborne about the role of chancellor.

The shadow chancellor also said that she was “very good friends” with Alastair Darling, who died last year, and his wife, and that they had given her advice too.

She told Times Radio: “But look, it’s always useful to seek advice and talk to people that have done a similar thing.

“There aren’t many people who have held the role of Chancellor of the Exchequer. I was very good friends with Alastair Darling, who died last year, the last Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I spent a lot of time talking to Alistair and also his wife Maggie about what the role entailed and I was very lucky to have that friendship with them.

“Gordon and George have also both given me advice, and that is useful.”

She added: “One thing that [Mr Osborne] and other people have said to me is that actually, when you go in from opposition, especially when you’ve done the job in opposition for quite a while, you go in with a very clear idea of what you want to achieve. And Gordon Brown, George Osborne and myself have all had, doesn’t feel like a luxury, I must say, at times, but have had that time in opposition to think very clearly and deeply about what we wanted to achieve as chancellor.”

02:52 PM BST

Starmer: I would not lift block on Scotland gender reforms

A UK Labour government would not lift the block on the Scottish Government’s controversial gender reforms, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

Under the leadership of Nicola Sturgeon, the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill was passed in Holyrood, but a Section 35 order was later issued by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack to stop the legislation receiving royal assent.

The legislation would have allowed someone to self-identify their legally recognised sex.

Despite calls from the SNP and the Scottish Greens for a Starmer government to lift the block, the Labour leader told journalists on Friday he would not do so.

“No, there would be no change of position on that,” he said.

“I think there’s a lot to learn about gender self-ID from the way in which it’s been dealt with here Scotland, which is why we’ve got a different proposition in our manifesto.”

02:38 PM BST

Farage: Studying STEM subjects at university should be free

Nigel Farage has said that university should be free for those studying science, technology, engineering, medicine or maths.

But the Reform UK leader said that he believed too many people were going to university to study other subjects.

He told ITV: “I wouldn’t charge anyone tuition fees at university if they were studying science, technology, engineering, medicine or maths.

“For the rest, folks, too many of you are going to university. you’re coming out with massive debt wrapped round your necks.

“You’d have been better off learning trades and very quickly, earning real dough.”

02:24 PM BST

Reader poll: Who will win the general election?

The general election is now less that two weeks away.

The UK’s political parties continue to battle for support as they fight for every vote.

How do you see the contest playing out? You can have your say in our reader poll below:

02:08 PM BST

Priti Patel urged to run as Tory leader

Dame Priti Patel is being urged by supporters to stand for the Tory leadership if the party is defeated at the election.

Allies of the former home secretary said figures from across the party wanted her to stand as a potential unifying candidate who could end the infighting and provide a credible leader of the opposition.

Friends said she had not ruled out the possibility of standing but was focused on the election and retaining her Witham constituency in Essex.

You can read the full story here.

02:05 PM BST

Pictured: Sunak hands out cake to journalists during campaign stop in Wales

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, hands out Bara Brith cake to the media during a visit to a farm shop in Mold, Wales - Aaron Chown /PA

01:53 PM BST

Starmer rules out Indyref2 talks with SNP

Sir Keir Starmer has categorically refused to participate in negotiations for another independence referendum if the SNP wins a majority of seats in Scotland on July 4.

John Swinney, the SNP leader, has said that if his party wins a majority of seats at the general election it should trigger talks with the UK Government on holding a second independence referendum.

Speaking to Bauer Media during his visit to Scotland today, Sir Keir was asked if he would deal with the Scottish Government if the SNP’s threshold was met.

“No,” he said.

01:44 PM BST

Sunak won’t be drawn on whether other Tories placed election bets

Rishi Sunak said law enforcement agencies are responsible for investigating gambling allegations when pressed on whether he had established if any more aides or Cabinet ministers had placed bets.

The Prime Minister told reporters in Wales: “The responsibility for investigating this is with the law enforcement agencies, including the Gambling Commission and the police.”

He dodged a follow-up question on whether he could rule out a member of the Cabinet having also placed a bet, instead repeating: “The job of the Gambling Commission and the police is to investigate anything that they think that is not right. And they should be allowed to get on with that, and it’s not for you or anyone else to speculate on that.”

01:39 PM BST

Starmer accuses Sunak of ‘total lack of leadership’ over gambling scandal

Sir Keir Starmer has accused Rishi Sunak of a “total lack of leadership” by failing to suspend Tory candidates over betting allegations and criticised him for failing to say whether more may be involved.

The Labour leader told broadcasters during a campaign visit to Scotland: “The Prime Minister is showing a total lack of leadership.

“Let’s look at what actually happened. In relation to a general election, the instincts of these Tories when a general election is called is not how do we make this work for the country? But how do I make some money? And that tells you a broader picture about politics.

“Of course he should suspend these candidates. If they were my candidates, they’d be gone by now, out of the door. He needs to take tough action. He’s not even saying today whether there are more involved.”

01:35 PM BST

Voters in 2019 did not have ‘good choice’ between Johnson and Corbyn, says Starmer

The choice between Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson at the 2019 general election was “not a good choice”, Sir Keir Starmer said today.

The Labour leader was asked by broadcasters about his suggestion during the BBC Question Time special last night that Mr Corbyn would have been a better prime minister than Mr Johnson.

He replied: “The choice at the last election before the electorate was not a good choice. You had Boris Johnson, who won and then three years later was thrown out of Parliament for breaking the rules, you had Jeremy Corbyn who is now expelled from the Labour Party.”

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, is pictured today during a campaign visit in Scotland - Andy Buchanan /AFP

01:28 PM BST

Winston Churchill’s great nephew backs Reform UK

Sir Winston Churchill’s great nephew has backed Reform UK.

Speaking at Royal Ascot on Thursday, the Duke of Marlborough hailed Nigel Farage and said he “could end up in the same league” as Britain’s wartime prime minister.

The Duke, who is also known as Jamie Blandford or Jamie Churchill, attended the horse racing festival with a turquoise Reform rosette on the inside of his morning coat.

You can read the full story here.

01:15 PM BST

Starmer not fussed by being ‘hate figure’ for Labour Left

Sir Keir Starmer said he does not mind being disliked by the Labour Left and revealed his favourite album of recent years was by the UK rapper Stormzy.

The Labour leader was asked during an interview with the Financial Times if he cared about being a “hate figure” for some on the Left.

He replied: “No. That’s not just me trying to create a macho image. I know what we need to do in government and how hard it’s going to be. I haven’t got time for the noises off.”

Asked about his favourite music he said: “You’ll think this is me trying too hard but the Stormzy album he released about a year ago is my favourite album of the moment.”

01:04 PM BST

Pictured: Sunak talks to journalists on the Tory battle bus in north Wales

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, talks to journalists on the Conservative Party's general election battle bus in north Wales - Aaron Chown /PA

12:56 PM BST

Labour in ‘better position that I could have imagined’, says Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer said Labour has reached a better position than he “could have imagined” when he took over the top job in April 2020.

Asked during an interview with the Financial Times if he pinches himself when he looks at the opinion polls, he said: “No, because I was among the small group of people who thought we could do this in five years.

“Although we’ve got to a better position than I could have imagined.”

12:44 PM BST

Pictured: Starmer poses for selfie during campaign stop in Bathgate, Scotland

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (L) takes a 'selfie' with employees and Martin Linden, chief operating officer of the Window Supply Company during a visit on June 21, 2024 in Bathgate, Scotland - Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images Europe

12:32 PM BST

Labour accused of planning death tax raid on family homes

Labour has been accused by the Tories of planning a “death tax” on properties starting from the very day a person dies.

The Conservatives have pointed to the Labour-run Welsh government’s plans to scrap a council tax exemption on homes in probate.

They say that this – if replicated in England – would land grieving families with hundreds of pounds in new taxes.

Sir Keir Starmer has previously called the Welsh Labour government the “blueprint for what Labour can do across the UK”, and Rachel Reeves has pledged a Labour government would “look at every single tax break” to raise money.

You can read the full story here.

12:20 PM BST

Lord Frost: No party has ‘divine right to exist’

Lord Frost warned no political party has a “divine right to exist” as he urged the Conservatives to embark on a path of renewal.

Writing for the Conservative Home website, the former Brexit minister said: “No party has a divine right to exist if it can’t offer policy propositions that are distinct from others’ and respond to the wishes of a voting coalition that can win an election.

“If all we offer is a mush of so-called ‘centrism’, a random collection of policies with no defining philosophy, then voters will give up or go elsewhere or both. Luckily, the Conservative Party has a huge capacity to renew itself.”

Lord Frost said the Tories can recover in the medium term if they set out how they intend to make the UK “different and better”.

12:15 PM BST

Sunak won’t be drawn on whether other Tories placed election bets

Rishi Sunak would not be drawn into whether he was aware of further Conservative candidates or party officials who had placed a bet on the date of the general election.

Asked if he was aware of more Tories who may have placed such a bet, the Prime Minister told journalists at the Welsh Conservative manifesto launch: “There is not much more I can add to what I have said previously. There are multiple investigations that are currently happening.

“It is right that those investigations are allowed to proceed. They are independent, they are necessarily confidential, as you will appreciate.”

He added: “What I can tell you is, as I said, if anyone is found to have broken the rules, they should not only face the full consequences of the law, but I will ensure that they are booted out of the Conservative Party too.”

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, launches the Welsh Tory manifesto in Rhyl, north Wales, this morning - Aaron Chown/PA

11:54 AM BST

Council tax rises are coming under Labour, warns Sunak

Rishi Sunak said council tax rises would be imposed by a Labour government as he seized on Angela Rayner saying the party would not look at revaluing council tax bands “at the moment” (see the post below at 10.10).

The Prime Minister told activists at the launch event for the Welsh Tory manifesto that there was a “clear choice” on July 4.

He said: “Continue on the plan we are on, continue to cut taxes for people at every stage of their life or the Labour Party who just want to hike up everyone’s taxes.

“We have seen that over the last few days. Council tax, already one of the biggest bills that most families face, we just heard today from the deputy leader of the Labour Party, it is not their plan to do it for the moment, not right now.

“But it is coming, mark my words. A future Labour government is going to whack up everyone’s taxes.”

11:42 AM BST

Don’t sleepwalk into Labour government on July 4, Sunak warns voters

Rishi Sunak has warned voters not to “sleepwalk” into the general election on July 4 as he claimed a Labour government would “change the rules so it is much harder to ever get them out”.

He said: “I warn you: Don’t fall into Labour’s trap, don’t sleepwalk to July 4. I know you want to send us a message but this is not a by-election. It will determine who governs our country for the next five years and potentially much longer.

“For if Labour get in they will change the rules so it is much harder to ever get them out.”

He added: “Once they have got power they will change every rule to make sure that they keep it. We can’t let that happen and it is only we Conservatives who can stop it.”

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, attends the launch of the Welsh Tory manifesto in Rhyl, Wales, this morning - Aaron Chown /PA

11:38 AM BST

Starmer ‘doesn’t deserve to decide your future’, says Sunak

Rishi Sunak launched a personal attack on Sir Keir Starmer as he argued the Labour leader does not “deserve to decide your future”.

Speaking at an event in north Wales, the Tory leader said: “This is a man who tried to overturn the result of the Brexit referendum, who twice urged everyone to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister and who ran on a series of pledges to be Labour leader that he cynically then abandoned.

“My friends, because he has such a past he doesn’t deserve to decide your future.”

11:34 AM BST

Sunak: Do not let Labour ‘waltz into office’

Rishi Sunak has urged voters not to let Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour Party “waltz into office”.

Launching the Welsh Tory manifesto at an event in north Wales, the Prime Minister said: “Our country’s future is in danger.

“I know you are frustrated with our party, frustrated with me, but do not let Labour waltz into office without scrutinising them, without seeing what their policies would mean for our country and your family’s security.

“Do you really know what you are going to get with Labour? A government must make long term decisions, but how can Labour when they have changed their mind or claimed to have on nearly every issue?”

11:30 AM BST

Watch live: Rishi Sunak launches Welsh Tory manifesto

11:30 AM BST

Davey: Tuition fees backlash taught Lib Dems ‘never make promises you can’t keep’

Sir Ed Davey said the backlash suffered by the Liberal Democrats during the coalition years after they failed to stick to their pledge not to raise tuition fees had taught him to “never make promises you can’t keep”.

Speaking to broadcasters this morning during a visit to Harrogate College, in North Yorkshire, Sir Ed was pressed on the question he received during last night’s Question Time debate about failing to deliver on tuition fees.

He said: “Again, I was able, I hope, to deal with that. I made it very clear that, yes, we were punished in 2015 but we’ve listened to people. And I’ve taken two big lessons from that, as I’ve reflected on that.

“The first is to never make promises you can’t keep, and that’s why we’ve costed our manifesto, I think, in more detail than any other party.

“We are very cautious in our estimates so we can deliver on the health and care package, we can deliver on cost-of-living challenges.

“But also, I knew that the party had to rebuild and we’ve been trying to do that over the last few years – listening to people, to what their biggest concerns are.”

11:12 AM BST

Tory candidate’s leaflet features Farage and Tice - but not Sunak

A Tory candidate’s general election leaflet contains old supportive quotes from Reform’s Nigel Farage and Richard Tice but nothing from Rishi Sunak.

Dame Andrea Jenkyns is standing in the seat of Leeds South West and Morley. Her latest leaflet features quotes from the Reform figures as well as supportive statements from the likes of Boris Johnson, Lord Cameron and George Osborne.

But Mr Sunak does not feature:

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

A campaign leaflet for Andrea Jenkyns

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

A campaign leaflet for Andrea Jenkyns

11:01 AM BST

Labour criticise Tories after public debt hits highest level since 1961

UK public debt hit its highest level since 1961 in May, according to official data published this morning by the Office for National Statistics.

The ONS found that public sector net debt as a proportion to UK GDP (gross domestic product) rose to 99.8 per cent for the month.

Labour said debt had reached “eye-watering” levels on the watch of Rishi Sunak.

A party spokesman said: “Rishi Sunak promised to cut debt – but on his watch, the national debt has reached an eye-watering 63-year high. Labour will introduce tough new fiscal rules and never play fast and loose with the economy.

“The choice on 4 July is clear: stability with a changed Labour Party or five more years of chaos with the Conservatives that will mean higher mortgages.”

10:53 AM BST

Pictured: Sir Ed Davey has a go at drawing during visit to Harrogate College

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Sir Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, tries his hand at drawing during a visit to Harrogate College in Yorkshire - Danny Lawson/PA

10:38 AM BST

Budget rules mean private schools VAT raid won’t start before Sept 2025, Labour insiders claim

Labour’s private school tax raid would not kick in until Sept 2025 at the earliest, party insiders have insisted after Rachel Reeves said it would be in her first Budget.

The Labour Party has pledged to charge VAT on private school fees if it wins the general election on July 4, in a policy that has drawn fierce criticism.

But exactly when the change would be applied under a Labour government has been unclear, meaning uncertainty for parents ahead of the 2024/25 academic year.

You can read the full story here.

10:29 AM BST

Pictured: Kinnock, Reeves, Gething and Stevens attend Welsh Labour manifesto launch

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, First Minister of Wales, Vaughan Gething and Shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens attend the Welsh Labour manifesto launch at the Llay Miners Institute on June 21, 2024 in Wrexham - Christopher Furlong /Getty Images Europe

10:25 AM BST

Tories respond to Rayner comments: ‘Big council tax rises on the cards’ under Labour

The Tories pounced on Angela Rayner’s council tax comments (see the post below at 10.10) and claimed that tax rises would be “on the cards” if Labour wins power.

Laura Trott, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Angela Rayner has confirmed big council tax rises are on the cards – just not ‘at the moment’. Rebanding of council tax is one of seventeen tax rises Labour have not ruled out.

“Labour are not being honest with the British public about their tax raid, but we already know the black hole in their spending promises requires at least £2,094 in higher taxes for working families across the country.

“It could not be clearer: a vote for anyone other than the Conservatives on 4 July will hand Keir Starmer an unaccountable majority with unchecked power to raise your taxes and raid your pension.”

10:12 AM BST

Pictured: Gove and Cleverly attend the Conservative Party’s summer party last night

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

James Cleverly departs The Hurlingham Club in west London after the Conservative Party summer party - George Cracknell Wright

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Michael Gove arrives at The Hurlingham Club in west London for the Conservative Party summer party - George Cracknell Wright

10:10 AM BST

Rayner: Labour not planning council tax rise ‘at the moment’

Angela Rayner today risked reigniting a row over whether Labour could increase council tax as she said the party had no plans to do so “at the moment”.

The Labour deputy leader said the party would have “a lot on our plate” if it wins power and “our priority is not to do anything with the council tax banding at the moment”.

The Tories have repeatedly accused Labour of planning to put up council tax by recalculating the bands which were set in 1991. A revaluation would be likely to result in tax increases for millions of households.

Labour frontbenchers have contradicted each other on the issue while Sir Keir Starmer failed to rule out a council tax increase earlier this week.

Asked if Labour could look at council tax bands, Ms Rayner told BBC Radio Merseyside this morning: “Well, look, you know, I think at the moment, if I’m really honest to your listeners, we’ve got a lot on our plate.

“I want to build 1.5 million homes, which I think is a huge task, which we’re going to, you know, review planning reforms. We’re going to look at how we can use the Affordable Homes grant… to really get those homes built, the New Deal for Working People which is my reforms to employment which will give people secure work.

“These are our priorities, our priority is not to do anything with the council tax banding at the moment.”

10:03 AM BST

Lord Kinnock defends Labour spending plans: ‘Caution is common sense’

Labour refusing to make unfunded spending commitments does not show “fear or lack of ambition” but rather “common sense”, a former party leader argued.

Speaking at the launch of the Welsh Labour manifesto, Lord Kinnock said this morning: “In the conditions that Labour will inherit in our country now, caution is common sense. Caution is the truth. Caution is honesty. Not fear, not lack of ambition.

“It is multiplied, developed, deepened, determination.”

09:49 AM BST

Tories ‘shrivelled’ then ‘crashed’ UK economy, says Lord Kinnock

Lord Kinnock claimed the Tories had “shrivelled” and then “crashed” the UK economy.

The former leader of the Labour Party said: “The Conservatives first shrivelled the economy and then they crashed it with a mad Budget and sent mortgages and interest rates zooming upwards.

“They are stuck there. That is not national prudence. That is national pillage. And it is what we have come to expect from the Tories.”

09:42 AM BST

Lord Kinnock: Labour will govern with ‘patriotic purpose’

Lord Kinnock said electing a Labour government on July 4 would mean choosing a shift to “stable management”.

The former Labour leader said the party would govern with “patriotic purpose” as he spoke at a Welsh Labour manifesto launch event.

Stressing the election will be about “change”, he said: “Change to stable management of our country in place of the shortsighted fixes of the Tory Party.

“Change that is cumulative, change that is deliberative, done with patriotic purpose and achieved in partnership with workers, businesses and the devolved, national and local governments.”

09:23 AM BST

Starmer squirms as Question Time audience smirks and exposes his waffle

The Conservatives believe Labour’s Achilles’ heel is tax, but for the public, it seems that Sir Keir Starmer’s vulnerability lies in his truthfulness – or lack of it, writes Gordon Rayner.

Just as with the Sky News debate last week, Sir Keir’s stint on the BBC Question Time programme went straight to the issue of his previous support for Jeremy Corbyn – the man he said at the time would make a “great prime minister”.

Did he mean it? Or, as Fiona Bruce suggested, did he have his fingers crossed behind his back when he said it in 2019?

Sir Keir squirmed as the audience refused to accept his excuse of “I didn’t think we’d win” as an answer.

You can read the full piece analysing the Labour leader’s debate appearance here.

09:10 AM BST

Rayner grilled on past support for Jeremy Corbyn

Angela Rayner was grilled on her past support for Jeremy Corbyn during an interview on ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme.

Asked why she previously said she was “absolutely gutted” to hear Mr Corbyn had been suspended from the Labour Party, Ms Rayner said: “Since then we’ve seen that Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t really acted in a way that would have been in keeping with the Labour Party.

“He’s now standing against the Labour Party so therefore he’s not a member of the Labour Party any more.”

09:08 AM BST

Labour ‘takes some responsibility’ for ‘Tory chaos’ of last five years, says Rayner

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner suggested the party “takes some responsibility” for the “Tory chaos” after the 2019 election because of its failure to defeat Boris Johnson.

She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I think the 2019 general election result, we got hammered by the electorate, I’m not going to put it any plainer than that, and we saw the devastation after that where Boris Johnson was elected and I think some of the feedback I got was that Labour didn’t offer an alternative.

“That period of time was not good for Labour, we didn’t get elected.”

She added: “We’ve changed the Labour Party since then because we need a Labour Party that’s going to serve the British people because we’ve seen what happens when we had the Tory chaos and we take some responsibility for that because we lost the election.”

08:56 AM BST

Rayner unable to say if Labour would re-approve Rosebank oilfield

Angela Rayner declined to say whether a Labour government would re-approve the Rosebank oilfield if the Supreme Court decided the original decision was unlawful.

Asked about the implications for the project of yesterday’s ruling that approval of an oil well near Horse Hill, Surrey, was unlawful, Ms Rayner told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m not going to do hypotheticals, but what we have said and what we have set out, is oil and gas is part of the mix for the next three decades, that’s the practicalities of what we face.”

Labour has said it will not approve any new oil and gas licences in the North Sea, but would not revoke existing licences.

Asked whether this meant Labour would re-approve Rosebank, Ms Rayner said: “Licences that have already been approved will carry on. If there’s a decision to be made at the time, then that will come to that secretary of state to make that decision.

“But what we are very clear on is that we can’t rely on it into the future, we have to have a just transition into renewables and Labour is the only party that has a credible plan on how we get there and meet our net zero targets.”

08:36 AM BST

NHS workforce plan won’t cost anything because it will deliver savings, suggests Rayner

Delivering the NHS workforce plan would not cost anything because it could actually save money, Angela Rayner has suggested.

The Labour manifesto states: “We will deliver the NHS long-term workforce plan to train the staff we need to get patients seen on time.”

Ms Rayner, the Labour deputy leader, was asked this morning how much it would cost to implement and she said there would be a focus on reform and spending money more efficiently.

Asked if she was suggesting delivering the plan would be cost neutral, Ms Rayner told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “I actually think with our proposals to bring down the waiting lists with 40,000 more appointments by ending the non-dom status and the workforce plan, I actually think by having that workforce plan, and I have workers in the social care sector before and I represented Unison members who worked in our NHS for years as their convenor as well, I actually think we could save money if we can do those reforms.

“If we can value the staff, if we can retain the staff so we are not paying huge agency fees, I actually think we could save money, never mind coming in cost neutral.

“I think that it is a scandal that we are spending so much money on agency fees and keeping people on trolleys in A&E because we don’t have the right support for people at the right time when they need it.”

08:25 AM BST

Badenoch to face Reynolds at business debate

Kemi Badenoch will take part in a head-to-head debate with Jonathan Reynolds in a general election business showdown hosted by the Institute of Directors next week.

The Business and Trade Secretary will clash with her Labour shadow at the event on June 24 from noon until 1.30pm.

08:12 AM BST

Get your general election questions answered

With polling day just two weeks away, The Telegraph’s political correspondent, Dominic Penna, and columnist,Tim Stanley, will be answering your questions in a Q&A next week.

So if you have a question on the upcoming general election, you can submit it using the form below:

08:05 AM BST

Tories’ Welsh manifesto will ‘shift the dial’, insists David TC Davies

David TC Davies said he believed the Tories’ Welsh manifesto will help to “shift the dial”.

Rishi Sunak and Mr Davies are due to launch the Conservative Party’s blueprint for Wales at an event later this morning.

Asked if he believed it will “shift the dial”, Mr Davies told Sky News: “Yes, I am, because obviously I have done a lot of canvassing anyway within Wales, within Monmouthshire, and I know that there is a lot of criticism of the Labour government.

“We have had a Labour government in Wales now for 25 years. We have got longer waiting lists than people in England, we have got lower educational standards than people in England.

“We see money that has been given to the Welsh Labour government that is not being passed on for things like childcare, for example, 30 hours of free childcare, or business rates discounts for small businesses like pubs and restaurants. People are really, really fed up.”

07:50 AM BST

Pictured: Kemi Badenoch arrives at The Hurlingham Club last night after Tory summer party

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Kemi Badenoch, the Business and Trade Secretary, is pictured last night arriving at The Hurlingham Club in west London following the Conservative Party Summer Party - George Cracknell Wright

07:45 AM BST

Minister ‘not in the least bit bothered’ by ex-Tory MP voting Labour

David TC Davies said he was “not in the least bit bothered” by the news that a former Tory minister will vote for Labour on July 4.

Chris Skidmore, a former energy minister who resigned as a Tory MP in January over the Government’s plans to issue new licences for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, said he will vote Labour because Rishi Sunak had sided with “climate deniers”.

Asked if he was bothered by Mr Skidmore switching his allegiance to Labour, Mr Davies, the Welsh Secretary, told Sky News: “I am not in the least bit bothered about it. I think it is very important that Rishi stands up for ordinary working people in this country who do have concerns about the potential costs of net zero.

“That is why, for example, we were quite right to push back the ban on petrol and diesel cars. We can make net zero by 2050 but it is vital that we do that without impacting on people’s living standards.”

07:39 AM BST

Pictured: Rayner and Miliband watch England play at Euro 2024 yesterday evening

i wouldn’t use private healthcare even if my children were ill, starmer says

Angela Rayner and Ed Miliband watch England play Denmark at Euro 2024 yesterday

07:35 AM BST

Senior Tory ‘very frustrated’ by general election gambling row

David TC Davies, the Welsh Secretary, said he was “very frustrated” by the general election gambling row as it continues to overshadow the Tory campaign.

The senior Tory told Times Radio: “I haven’t placed any bets on the election, I didn’t know the election was taking place, I am very frustrated with all the people who may or may not have broken the rules.

“But we will find out when the process has finished.”

07:30 AM BST

Minister defends Sunak over decision not to suspend Tories amid gambling probe

A Cabinet minister defended Rishi Sunak’s decision not to suspend Tory figures while they are investigated over general election gambling allegations.

David TC Davies, the Welsh Secretary, said it was “right that that investigation is allowed to take its course”.

Asked why Mr Sunak had not suspended those embroiled in the row, Mr Davies told Times Radio: “He has already said that anyone who is found to have broken the rules will be booted out of the party but there is a full investigation going on at the moment involving the Gambling Commission and I think it is right that that investigation is allowed to take its course.

“He has been very clear about this. If people are found to have broken the rules in anyway they will be kicked out of the party.”

Mr Sunak said last night that any Tory figures who are found to have broken gambling rules “should face the full force of the law”.

Conservative candidate Laura Saunders said she “will be co-operating with the Gambling Commission” probe, while her husband, the Tories’ director of campaigning, Tony Lee, took a leave of absence amid reports the couple were being investigated by the gambling regulator.

It came after the arrest of one of the Prime Minister’s police protection officers and the previous revelation of a Gambling Commission investigation into his parliamentary aide, Craig Williams.

07:12 AM BST

Teenagers who refuse National Service could forfeit driving licence, Sunak suggests

Young people who refuse to do national service could forfeit their driving licences and be denied access to student loans, Rishi Sunak has suggested.

The Prime Minister said there would need to be “a set of sanctions and incentives” to ensure compliance with a new scheme proposed by the Tories.

When asked how he would make youngsters take part, he suggested the UK could adopt punitive measures used by other European nations.

The Tories have included plans for a new national service scheme in their manifesto.

You can read the full story here.

06:58 AM BST

What is happening in the general election campaign today?

Rishi Sunak will visit Wales today to launch the Welsh Conservative manifesto with the general election campaign now deep into its fifth week.

The Prime Minister is set to make remarks in north Wales as he lends his support to Andrew RT Davies.

After four days of travelling around England, Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, is headed for Scotland with his Scottish counterpart Anas Sarwar for a business visit.

Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, will visit one of his party’s target seats in Yorkshire this morning before a campaign visit to a traditional Tory “Blue Wall” constituency in Norfolk.

Meanwhile, Nigel Farage will campaign in Clacton, where the Reform leader is hoping to win election to the Commons on July 4 in his eighth run for Parliament. An interview with the BBC’s Nick Robinson is then due to be broadcast this evening from 7pm.

06:46 AM BST

Starmer: Corbyn would have made better prime minister than Johnson

Sir Keir Starmer has said that Jeremy Corbyn would have made a better prime minister than Boris Johnson.

The Labour leader made the comment in a special BBC Question Time programme in which he was pinned down over his past support for Mr Corbyn.

Sir Keir first refused five times to stand by his comment made in the run up to the 2019 election that Mr Corbyn, his predecessor as Labour leader, would have made a “great prime minister”.

But he eventually said: “He would be a better prime minister… look what we got, Boris Johnson, a man who made massive promises, didn’t keep them, and then had to leave parliament in disgrace.”

You can read the full story here.

06:41 AM BST

Poll: Less than 4 in 10 2019 Tory voters planning to back party on July 4

Less than four in 10 voters who backed the Conservatives at the 2019 general election are planning to support the Tories again on July 4, a new poll has found.

A Redfield & Wilton Strategies survey conducted between June 19-20 found that 37 per cent of 2019 Tory voters said they would be voting Conservative.

Redfield said this was the joint-lowest percentage it had ever recorded.

Some 28 per cent of 2019 Tory supporters said they now intended to vote for Reform UK while 20 per cent will vote for Labour.

06:39 AM BST

Ex-minister: Tories ‘shooting ourselves in the foot’ over betting row

The Tories keep “shooting ourselves in the foot” during the general election campaign, a former minister warned as a gambling row continues to engulf the Conservative Party.

Paul Scully said the Tories were facing a “punishment election” anyway on July 4 but problems and gaffes during the campaign were “making it easy for [voters] to punish us even further”.

It was suggested to Mr Scully during an interview on GB News that things seemed to have gone from “bad to worse” for the Tories ever since Rishi Sunak triggered the election.

He said: “It feels like we’re shooting ourselves in the foot and we’re not millipedes. We’ve only got two feet.

“There’s only so much capacity. When you have got effectively what is a punishment election, when you’ve got people that are wanting to punish the Conservatives and so they’re going to be looking under the microscope at absolutely everything that we do and then we’re making it easy for them to punish us even further on that basis.”

Several senior Conservatives are facing official investigations by the gambling watchdog over allegations that they placed bets on the July date before it was public.

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