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The top quips of the Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer TV showdown

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“A teenage Dad’s Army

Keir Starmer scored a laugh when he told a student who asked about policies for young people: “What I won’t be doing is sending you off to some kind of teenage Dad’s Army”, a reference to the prime minister’s National Service plan.

“Not transformational but desperate”

The audience appeared unimpressed when Rishi Sunak described his National Service scheme as “transformational”. He also attacked the Labour leader saying “all you can do is sneer at it”. But Mr Starmer hit back at the idea, dubbing it “not transformational but desperate”.

Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer
Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer (ITV)

“Ashamed” of his party’s record

Mr Starmer also accused the Tory leader of avoiding questions over his party’s record in office – and emphasising his future plans – because “he is ashamed of it”.

Tax rises in Labour’s “DNA” and “If you think Labour are going to win, start saving’’

Mr Sunak kept hammering his claim that Labour would cost voters £2,000 in tax rises and accused the Labour leader of planning to force people to “arbitrarily rip out your boiler, change your car, convert your home” to greener alternatives.

“Garbage”

It took a surprised looking Sir Keir 26 minutes to deny the Tories claims his party would cost households £2,000. When he finally did so, he dismissed it as “garbage”.

Host Julie Etchingham had to try to keep the two men in check during the ITV general election debate at MediaCity in Salford (Jonathan Hordle/ITV/PA)
Host Julie Etchingham had to try to keep the two men in check during the ITV general election debate at MediaCity in Salford (Jonathan Hordle/ITV/PA) (PA Media)

“Insulting and childish”

A clearly annoyed Sir Keir hit back at claims from his opposite number in a row over defence and whether or not Labour could be trusted on national security. Sir Keir called the claim “shocking” . He said that as the Director of Public Prosecutions he had worked to combat terror plots, including one designed to blow up seven aeroplanes halfway across the Atlantic. He added that for the prime minister who at the time, he said, was “making money betting against the country” during the financial crisis “to now say that somehow national security is somehow safer in his hands is insulting and childish.”

“The most liberal prime minister we’ve ever had on immigration”

Giving him a title designed to get under his skin, Sir Keir accused Mr Sunak of being “the most liberal prime minister we’ve ever had on immigration” because of high net migration figures. Nearly 700,000 more people came to the UK than left last year.

The “worst job in Britain”

In an accidental quip, the PM revealed he had discussed with the England football manager Gareth Southgate which of them “had the worst job in Britain’. He added, however, that this was merely “in terms of other people giving you their opinions”.

“Gentlemen, please!”

ITV’s Julie Etchingham emerged as one of the stars of the night, keeping the two men in line as best she could and at one point telling the bickering politicians: “We will lower our voices please Gentlemen”.

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