politics

Who won the BBC general election debate? Our snap verdict on the seven-way clash


It was something of a surprise this debate went ahead, given the horrific events on London Bridge just five hours earlier.

With Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn having already decided to send party frontbenchers in their stead, the showdown in the Welsh capital was always going to feel like a B-list event.

And given the violence 150 miles away, any potential sting was understandably stripped out of the initial exchanges.

The seven politicians on stage – Tory Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, Lib Dem boss Jo Swinson, Plaid Cymru chief Adam Price, the Greens’ former leader Caroline Lucas and Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice – all rightly made sympathetic comments about the atrocity at the London landmark.

At the start of the campaign Jo Swinson repeatedly claimed she could become PM. It seems reality may finally have cruelly intruded on her boast

They spoke about the need for more police, praised the public and police who so heroically intervened and called for the attack to unite rather than divide us.

But within minutes, the formalities aside, they were revealing their own divisions in the election battle, shouting over each other as they traded barbs over Brexit, public spending and taxation.

Even the audience, so vocal in previous TV election debates during this campaign, seemed like they couldn’t be bothered – save for laughing and applauding when Sturgeon told Tice: “We don’t trust you.”

Standing on the far left of the gentlest of semi-circles at the Senedd – home of the National Assembly for Wales – it was Price who was on home turf, literally.

“Croeso y Gymru,” he trilled, welcoming BBC1 primetime viewers to Wales.

“Welcome to Wales!” said Adam Price, in Welsh

Yet the fiercely pro-Remain politician’s message is unlikely to have gone down well in Leave-voting Wales.

Lucas had the best opening, staring down the lens and revealing: “Tonight I’m going to correct one big lie and tell one big truth.

“First the big lie, get Brexit done – Boris Johnson’s deal will not get it done, it’s just the start of years more wrangling.”

Caroline Lucas wanted to correct a lie and tell a truth

On “the big truth” of climate change, she added: “This election is the greatest, perhaps the last chance to change course.

“Children can’t vote, the planet can’t vote, it’s up to you, and I ask you – if not now, when?”

Swinson, whose campaign has fallen far short of her own unrealistic ambitions – she infamously claimed she could become Prime Minister having vowed to scrap Brexit without a second referendum – struggled to carve out a position.

Sunak did little to reveal why Conservative Campaign Headquarters believe him to be such a great secret weapon.

Conservative Campaign Headquarters place great faith in Rishi Sunak. It’s unclear why

He’d memorised his lines well but all that meant was he was boring from the off, laying into Labour’s economic legacy in 2010 – yes, NINE years ago.

Long-Bailey had a great comeback, pointing out Sunak’s boss, Chancellor Sajid Javid, was working at Deutsche Bank at the time, selling some of the products blamed for crashing the economy.

But she later blotted her copy book by apparently referring to the EU’s Brexit negotiator as “Michael” Barnier.

Rebecca Long-Bailey used the anglicised version of Michel Barnier’s Gallic name

History is yet to record how proud Frenchman Michel feels about this slight.

Tice looked like he’d stepped into the wrong studio having got lost on his way to a presenting shift on the Shopping Channel or perhaps a US cable station where middle-aged, clean-cut, sharp-suited religious types with strong convictions preach to tiny audiences.

Did Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice get lost en route to the Shopping Channel?

Host Nick Robinson was good, mainly keeping order and trying to ensure each protagonist had a fair chance.

“There’s no point talking over each other, no-one can hear you,” he told Long-Bailey and Sunak.

And even if they could, would they care?





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