Labour’s ‘crazy’ private school tax raid will drive children to state sector, Mordaunt claims

The seven-party debate is taking place now on ITV
The seven-party debate is taking place now on ITV - Jonathan Hordle/ITV/Shutterstock

Labour’s plan to launch a tax raid on private schools is “crazy” and will drive more children into the state sector, Penny Mordaunt warned on Thursday.

During the seven-party debate hosted by ITV newsreader Julie Etchingham, the Leader of the Commons said Sir Keir Starmer’s proposal “doesn’t serve anyone” and is “the kind of dogma we need to keep out of the public sector”.

Addressing Angela Rayner during the event, she said: “What Angela and the Labour Party are going to do is, unbelievably, they are going to tax education”.

She added: “The result of that is some families will not be able to send their kids to the schools they’re currently going [to] but also they’ve admitted this week class sizes will go up as a consequence.

“It’s crazy and it doesn’t serve anyone and it’s the kind of dogma that we need to keep out of the public sector.”

Ms Rayner defended the policy and suggested private schools should minimise the impact of it on the state sector by absorbing the costs of the tax raid.

Earlier on Thursday, Bridget Phillipson, Labour’s shadow education secretary, told Sky News private schools “should frankly cut their cloth” and think about how they managed their budgets.

“I think this is a straightforward, fair choice in terms of choosing to prioritise investment in state education, where 93 per cent of our children will go to school, the vast majority of your viewers will send their children to the local school. They want investment in more teachers and more mental health support.”

Pressed again on the question she was asked, and challenged on when fees would increase, Ms Phillipson said it was a “matter for a fiscal event”.

“Private schools have had ample time to prepare. There is no requirement for them to pass this on to parents. But I would also just add that fees have gone up year-on-year, way beyond inflation, and there hasn’t been a change in terms of numbers.

“So I think that private schools should frankly cut their cloth and make decisions around how they manage their budget.”

Immigration and the economy were the other dominant topics in a lively seven-way debate which saw Ms Mordaunt sent out to bat for the Conservatives just minutes after a YouGov poll showed Reform pip her party to second place for the first time.

Catch up on the debate below and join the conversation in the comments section.

10:36 PM BST

That’s all for tonight...

Thank you for joining The Telegraph’s live coverage of the second seven-party leaders’ debate.

My colleague Jack Maidment will be back early tomorrow to guide you through the rest of the day.

10:35 PM BST

Rayner ‘playing with fire’ over Israel arms sales

The Labour Party is “playing with fire” by committing to a review of arms sales to Israel, Sir David Davis has said.

Asked about Angela Rayner’s comments in the ITV debate, the senior Conservative MP told The Telegraph’s Tim Sigsworth: “I think she’s playing with fire, frankly.

“The hard truth is obviously everybody’s concerned about deaths in Gaza amongst civilians, but you’ve also got to recognise the barbaric attack on them, and how they feel. So you’ve got to balance those two things.

“Obviously, we want to pressurise Israel to make sure then they obey international law and minimise casualties.

“But on the other hand, we don’t want to neutralise them. We don’t want to suddenly say we’re going to take away your right to self-defence. That would be a terrible way to treat an ally.”

10:34 PM BST

Davis attacks Farage over Lords reform

Sir David Davis has said Nigel Farage does not “understand” Parliament after the Reform UK leader said there should be an elected element in the House of Lords, writes Tim Sigsworth.

Speaking to The Telegraph after the debate, the Tory former Brexit Secretary said: “Reform is just an outlier for Labour, let’s understand that. The best he will do is probably one seat if he’s lucky.

“But Nigel doesn’t understand the House of Commons or the House of Lords. He’s got no idea how it works.

“All he’s done is be in the European Parliament where you get to speak for three minutes and you control nothing, right? If you change the House of Lords or put an elected element in, it may not be the wrong thing to do, but you’ve got to think it through because it then means it challenges the Commons.

“Do you want the Lords challenging the Commons? Do you want gridlock as they get in America? Sometimes the whole government grinds to a halt. You think that’s the formula for better government?

“The very fact that Nigel thinks that just tells you he’s got a lot to learn about government.”

10:30 PM BST

A vote for the Tories is a vote for Labour, says Reform

Reform UK’s deputy leader has said a “vote for the Tories is a vote for Labour” after his party overtook the Conservatives in the polls for the first time, writes Tim Sigsworth.

Speaking from the spin room after the ITV debate, David Bull told The Telegraph: “We’re absolutely thrilled. We thought this was coming because of the weight of emotion around the country, but amazing for us.

“Look at 19, everyone, every single party went down, the Conservatives stayed still. But what does that say about what is going on?

“Actually Nigel is right, a vote for the Tories is a vote for Labour so actually what people have to do is to vote for us because there’s nothing to lose is there?”

10:28 PM BST

‘If you think Labour will win, start saving’

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “Once again, Labour have refused to rule out dragging family homes into Capital Gains Tax for the first time, a tax rise that risks making millions of homeowners poorer.

“Labour’s Tax Trap Manifesto contains only tax rises and no tax cuts which will take taxes to their highest level ever.

“But that’s only the tax rises they’re telling you about – it doesn’t include the £2,094 of tax rises they’ll need to fill their £38.5 billion unfunded spending commitments. So if you think Labour will win, start saving.”

10:27 PM BST

The best moments from election debate – fiery exchanges and a fired-up Farage

Penny Mordaunt, Angela Rayner and Nigel Farage were once again among the faces in the second seven-party debate of the campaign

Julie Etchingham, hosted the debate with tax, immigration and the health service among the key topics.

Ms Mordaunt, the Commons Leader, and Ms Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, clashed repeatedly again in seven-way debate, but Reform leader Mr Farage also made his views loud and clear.

Amy Gibbons and Nick Gutteridge recap the key moments of tonight

10:24 PM BST

Who won the ITV general election debate? Our writers have their say

Tonight’s ITV debate saw Penny Mordaunt, Angela Rayner and Nigel Farage face off for a second time in a lively seven-party debate which began only minutes after news broke that Reform UK has overtaken the Conservatives in an opinion poll for the first time.

For Tim Stanley, Nigel Farage and Stephen Flynn were the big winners. For Sam Ashworth-Hayes, Angela Rayner showed some awareness of the need for big ideas to fix the NHS. Tom Harris argues the main loser was the audience.

Here, our writers give their verdicts on who performed best

10:20 PM BST

The moment Mordaunt called Farage a ‘Labour enabler’

10:19 PM BST


Penny Mordaunt
Penny Mordaunt repeatedly pointed at the other candidates she claimed would want to put up taxes if elected

10:12 PM BST

Your verdict on the seven-party debate

10:10 PM BST

Full-time analysis: Angela Rayner was tonight’s biggest loser

Regardless of who won tonight’s debate, there is no doubt who lost it: Angela Rayner, writes our Associate Editor Gordon Rayner.

Labour’s deputy leader found herself under attack from all sides when ITV decided to let each participant ask a question of one of the others, and it was Ms Rayner who drew the most fire. The Green Party’s Carla Denyer was out of the traps first, demanding to know which of Labour’s U-turns she was most proud of - ditching green spending plans, keeping the two child cap on child benefit, or something else?

Ms Rayner, who demonstrated an inability throughout the night to break free of her pre-prepared list of stock phrases, replied: “What I’m not proud of is that we’ve had 14 years of the Tories and the crashing of the economy…”

Penny Mordaunt asked Ms Rayner to rule out an increase to Capital Gains Tax. She could not. The SNP’s Stephen Flynn asked whether Labour would end arms sales to Israel on day one of a Labour government. Ms Rayner gulped and reached for a stock answer on following international law.

Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorwerth grilled her on child poverty. She talked about cast iron fiscal rules. If Labour want to govern Ms Rayner will need to get used to answering such questions, rather than simply telling people why they should hate the Tories, and so far she has showed little sign of being able to do so. Even moderator Julie Etchingham ticked her off for repeating herself too often.

Ms Mordaunt, of course, had her own share of attacks, being asked by Nigel Farage: “Why on earth should people believe the fifth manifesto that promises cuts to net migration?” Ms Mordaunt was laughed at when she said “because of this Prime Minister”.

Angela Rayner asked her whether she would allow Nigel Farage into the Tory Party, and she said she had less in common with Mr Farage than people might think, without actually saying no.

Readers of the Telegraph’s coverage of the election had no doubt who the winner was: Mr Farage had a net positive rating almost seven times as high as Ms Mordaunt’s, with everyone else in negative territory.

10:09 PM BST

Closing statement: Nigel Farage

“Unlike the rest I don’t need a script, I’ve come out of retirement, back into politics with passion in my heart.

“Britain is broken, everyone knows it and Britain needs Reform. The election is over under our system, we know that Keir Starmer’s going to win and probably have quite a big majority. The question is who will lead the opposition because for democracy to work, there has to be a voice of opposition.

“And I put it to you that Ed Davey and the Liberal Democrats won’t do that because he actually agrees with Labour on most things. Rishi Sunak won’t do it, he’ll probably be in California by then anyway. And the Tory Party is split down the middle and about to implode in this election.

“I say to you I will stand up against open borders... I will stand up and fight for the millions of people running small businesses. I have the courage to take on the mob. Please join the revolt.”

10:07 PM BST

Closing statement: Angela Rayner

“The choice at this election is simple. More chaos with the Conservatives or change with Labour. Imagine waking up on July 5 to five more years of a Conservative government. Years of high tax and low growth while everything gets more expensive. Crime going unpunished, NHS waiting lists getting longer.

“The Tories have left you and our country worse off. A vote for Labour is a vote to end the chaos.

“Labour’s plan for growth and wealth creation is about stability, wealth creation and reform. Economic stability is change. We will bring NHS waiting times with 40,000 new weekly appointments and we’ll secure our streets and our borders with more neighbourhood police and Border Security Command.”

10:05 PM BST

Closing statement: Daisy Cooper

“Our country is crying out for change. Day in day out all over the country people are striving just to get on in life.

“Too often it feels like we’re fighting a broken system, nothing works. Under Ed Davey’s leadership the Liberal Democrats are promising a fair deal for the British people. We will fix the NHS and social care, tackle the cost-of-living crisis and stop filthy raw sewage polluting our rivers.

“A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for a strong local champion, a vote for a fair deal and a vote to help deliver the change that we all so desperately need... In so many parts of the UK, a vote for the Liberal Democrats is the best chance to get this disastrous Tory government out of office.”

10:04 PM BST

Closing statement: Penny Mordaunt

“Tonight Angela Rayner has proved one thing. Angela Rayner will put up your taxes. Labour’s track record of economic hardship speaks for itself. The lesson of the last few years is when Labour is in charge, unemployment rises and tax rises. They will do it all over again. They’re going to tax your pension, they’re going to tax your home.

“And what you need to know from tonight is they’re also going to push up your bills. These are hard truths, but better face them now than regret them later. It’s your choice, it’s your vote and it’s your future in your hands. So if you value your pension, don’t give a blank cheque to Labour. If you value your pension, vote Conservative. If you value your home, vote Conservative. If you value your future, vote Conservative.”

10:02 PM BST

Closing statement: Carla Deyner

“The choice you make on July 4 isn’t just about which party you vote for. If we look beyond the finger pointing and squabbling, politics is about choosing the kind of future we want for our children. We all know the Tories are toast and Labour will form the next government but are they offering real change or is it the same broken politics dressed up with a red rosette?

“Think of who you want on your side in parliament, making sure your voice is heard. Green MPs will never stop defending our future, protecting our NHS from privatisation and pushing the next Labour government to think bigger and act bolder. On July 4 you can choose real hope and real change.”

10:00 PM BST

‘What one change can you make to restore public trust in politics?’

Carla Denyer spoke of the need for a “fair voting system”, while Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader at Westminster, said: “If you’re doing well in life, you should vote for the politician who will make people better for others not doing so well, you’re not doing so well in life, you should always vote for the politician who’s going to make things better for you.”

Nigel Farage said both main parties were “mushy, SDP parties in the middle”, he said the House of Lords was an “abomination”, called to “change the voting system”, and added: “Let’s give the people the ability to call more referendums so they can decide the biggest issue of their lives.”

09:58 PM BST

‘You’re absolutely right that trust in public is broken’

The final question is: “What one change can you make to restore public trust in politics?”

Daisy Cooper said: “You’re absolutely right that trust in politics is broken and the Liberal Democrats have always said that it’s not just about who’s in power, it’s about what you do with power, so we believe in devolving power to local communities and introducing proportional representation so every single vote of every single person counts in the general election.”

Angela Rayner said: “We need our politicians who make the rules to play by the rules as well, so bringing back integrity and ethics which is exactly what Sir Keir Starmer will do... I think that’s undermined all of us as politicians.”

Penny Mordaunt said: “We’re at the dawn of a new parliament and if we want integrity back people need to be honest about their manifestos. The only party that is going to cut your taxes is the Conservatives.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth was applauded as he said: “How about some honesty about the fact that freezing thresholds has meant higher taxes under the Conservatives while they’ve been cutting public spending? We need politicians to be truthful with people about the challenges that they face.”

09:55 PM BST

Rayner: We can’t solve child poverty with one particular lever

Rhun ap Iorwerth asked Angela Rayner: “Is it the likely incoming Labour government’s two-child benefit cap or the £18bn worth of cuts to public services which will make the situation worse?”

Ms Rayner said he was “absolutely right to recognise that child poverty is a scourge” but insisted it was “not about one particular lever”.

09:54 PM BST

Penny Mordaunt: We’re improving public services

Daisy Cooper asked Penny Mordaunt: “The Conservatives promised to recruit 6,000 new GPs and didn’t, the Conservatives promised to build 40 new hospitals... How on earth can anyone trust a word the Conservatives say about protecting the NHS?”

Ms Mordaunt said public sector workers had been recruitment “and that’s why you can see we’re making improvements in many public services that we talked about earlier.”

09:52 PM BST

Angela Rayner asked about arms sales to Israel

Stephen Flynn asked Angela Rayner: “On day one of a Labour government, will you end arms sales to Israel?”

The deputy Labour leader replied: “What happened on Oct 7 was barbaric and Israel had the right to defend itself. However since then the absolute loss of innocent lives, thousands of innocent lives, everyone in the House of all political persuasions has been pushing for a ceasefire as well as our international counterparts.

“But if we were in government we would launch an immediate review of the legal advice of the arms sales to Israel. And we will comply to international law.”

09:50 PM BST

Mordaunt: I have less in common with Farage than you might imagine

Angela Rayner asked Penny Mordaunt: “Would you like to allow Nigel Farage into the Tory Party?”

Ms Mordaunt replied: “Let’s see now. I’m a Brexiteer, I believe that if you can’t reform European institutions you should be prepared to leave them, I set up a business before getting into Parliament so that’s why I always back business and I believe in rewarding personal responsibility.

“You might think I have a lot in common with Nigel. But what I’m standing against is letting you in and letting you tax the hell out of people. Nigel is helping you do that, so we’ve probably got less in common than you might imagine.”

Ms Rayner was rewarded when she said the Tories had taxed people more than in 70 years.

09:48 PM BST

Nigel Farage grills Penny Mordaunt on migration

Nigel Farage asked Penny Mordaunt: “Why on earth should people believe the fifth manifesto that promises cuts to net migration?”

Ms Mordaunt was laughed at when she said “because of this Prime Minister”, before pointing to figures that showed visa applications were down by a third and migration being projected to fall by hundreds of thousands.

“Nigel is a Labour enabler and he is enabling no cap, no target and no plan.”

Mr Farage said: “A vote for you is actually now a vote for Labour.”

09:46 PM BST

Rayner: Our manifesto doesn’t mean we will raise capital gains tax

Penny Mordaunt asked Angela Rayner: “Rachel Reeves, your shadow chancellor, hasn’t ruled out increasing capital gains tax. This would mean higher costs for families when they’re selling their homes. Will you commit to ruling that out now?”

Ms Rayner replied: “Rachel has set out that we will not raise income tax, National Insurance and VAT. And we do not need to raise taxes on working people because our manifesto is fully-costed, unlike the Conservatives.


“There is nothing in our manifesto that means we have to raise capital gains tax.”

09:42 PM BST

Rayner grilled on Labour U-turns

Carla Denyer, the Green leader, asked Angela Rayner: “Which of your party’s U-turns are you most proud of, the ditching of the £28bn climate investment plan, keeping the cruel two-child benefit cap or one of the others?”

Angela Rayner replied: “What I’m not proud of is that we’ve had 14 years of the Tories and the crashing of the economy but what we’ve got to be realistic about is we’ve got to have a programme for government that is credible so we can deliver our green prosperity plan and we can eradicate poverty. And I know Labour can do it because we’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.

“You can’t keep plucking numbers out and say that’s what you’ll do... The Conservatives’ unfunded tax breaks, and that’s where the Conservatives crashed our economy.”

09:40 PM BST

And now for something different

Each participant in the debate now has the chance to ask a question to another politician of their choice.

09:39 PM BST

Rayner under fire over two-child benefit cap

Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, said taxes would not go up on working people on Labour.

“We have said we need to make work pay. One of the most scandalous things I’ve seen, the people using food banks now are actually in work and that is under the Tories’ watch.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth, the Plaid Cymru leader, chimed in: “Can I just point out here the embarrassment for Angela Rayner? We have Nigel Farage wanting to get rid of the two-child limit and Labour is refusing to. What’s happened to Labour?”

Ms Rayner replied: “We will not do unfunded spending commitments. Because unless we can identify where that money’s coming from... That’s why housing responds to poverty, so does people’s work. We’ve said we won’t do unfunded spending commitments. But we’ve put free breakfast clubs in schools. We prioritised what we felt we needed to do.”

09:37 PM BST

Farage backs lifting two-child benefit cap

Daisy Cooper, the deputy Liberal Democrat, said people were “dragged into paying the higher rate of tax” through frozen income tax threshold, adding that the mini-Budget “blew a hole in people’s finances”.

Nigel Farage, the Reform leader, said: “We need to do something, something with vision, and if we increase the level at which people start to pay tax, that takes seven million people out of tax... But it helps get people off the benefits trap, because if you start to go back to work and earn money you lose benefits, plus we rely less on unskilled foreign labour.”


On the two-child benefit, he replied: “I think we should encourage people to have children, and I also think we should encourage people in marriage to have some tax benefits as well, I really do. We’ve got to help people.”

09:33 PM BST

We can’t afford another day of the Tories, Flynn tells Mordaunt

Penny Mordaunt, the Leader of the Commons, said: “The economy is now turning... This is not the time to suddenly rack up taxes on people. Labour is going to do this, their leader has said he is going to do this. What you haven’t been told is what taxes and on what people but the average is £2,000 on each working household in this country. People can’t afford that.”

Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader at Westminster, won applause when he said: “You know what the public can’t afford Penny is any longer one day more of the Conservative government that is completely out of touch.

“And ultimately if we are going to move this conversation on to economic growth, and what comes next, because that’s probably where it’s going to go... [Angela] didn’t mention the single market, she didn’t mention the customs union, she didn’t mention the fact that the Labour Party have walked away from £28bn on investment in net zero technologies while the United States and Europe is going down that route to grow the economy. The Westminster consensus is alive and well and it doesn’t serve you well.”

09:30 PM BST

We need to grow the economy, declares Angela Rayner

Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader, said her party would close loopholes in the windfall tax on oil and gas giants. She also called to invest £1bn in farmers to reduce the price of homegrown food.

Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, said: “We need to grow the economy, we haven’t had growth in our economy, the Tories have taxed us the highest burden in 70 years. We also need to build the houses people need, the Tories haven’t built those houses, that’s why we’ve said we need to build 1.5 million homes and the social housing people desperately need.

“We need Great British Energy so we’re not reliant on people like Putin for our energy needs which means people’s bills have gone sky high.”

Penny Mordaunt, the Commons Leader, said: “I think this is the issue of the election and it is not true to say that we’ve put the highest burden on the poorest, the tax burden on those with middle incomes is the lowest it has been since 1975... What we need to do now is cut tax. We have to enable people to keep more of the money they earn. That is what we will do, Labour will do the opposite, they will put up taxes, they will put up bills.”

Carla Denyer, the Greens leader, said it was “not even that expensive to lift” the two-child benefit cap, but the Conservatives and Labour had both ruled it out.

09:27 PM BST

Farage: Only the big corporates are booming in Britain

The next question is from Janice about people “who never thought they’d struggle” but are now reliant on food banks.

Nigel Farage, the Reform leader, said: “People are getting poorer. It’s quite simple, I mentioned a few moments ago that GDP, wealth per capita, has fallen for the last six consecutive quarters. It’s very much a country in which the big corporates and the big banks and a certain group of people have become richer, exponentially, and everybody else has fallen behind.

“And things that we perhaps could have expected when we were younger, our kids now find a house unaffordable... I’m sorry but we are back to the population explosion and the massive impact it’s having on the lives of people and we’ve got to try to get the population to steady and we have to build more houses and we have to take the poorer people out of tax.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth, the Plaid Cymru leader, noted Britain was “one of the most unequal” countries in the world, explaining why it was “so unprepared for the cost-of-living crisis... We can never forget Trussonomics and the crashing of the economy at the hands of the Conservatives.”

09:22 PM BST

Quick-fire question: If elected would you ever rejoin the EU or the single market?

Angela Rayner: “No.”

Daisy Cooper: “They’re not on the table at this election unfortunately but at some point in the future we would very much like to do so.”

Penny Mordaunt: “No and if you have a Labour government they will take you back in, they will tie you on defence, migration and regulation without any of the benefits of membership.”

Carla Denyer: “Yes, when the time is right.”

Nigel Farage: “No, we’re free, unfortunately we’re governed incompetently but at least they’re our mistakes, not somebody else’s.”

Stephen Flynn: “Yes, absolutely..”

Rhun ap Iorwerth: “I have no doubt that Wales is best served by being in the European Union but for now let’s get back into the single market and customs union to help our economy.”

09:19 PM BST

Telegraph readers’ thoughts on Reform’s poll surge

09:19 PM BST

Gordon Rayner’s half-time analysis

Shortly before the programme began, Reform ran a party political broadcast on Channel 4 that consisted of the message: “Britain is broken. Britain needs Reform,” on a black background for nearly five minutes, with no sound and no motion.

Whether or not it was effective, it was certainly novel, and Mr Farage is perhaps the only person offering anything different from what we heard in last Friday’s seven-way debate, writes Gordon Rayner.

On the NHS he said the reason for a 43 per cent rise in case loads was the “exploding population” - up six million since the Conservatives came to power.

Labour’s manifesto contained no mention of the population crisis, he said, telling the audience in Salford: “One in 30 people walking on the streets out there has come in the last year alone.”

Ms Mordaunt seemed less fired up than last week without Angela Rayner standing next to her, but made a good fist of hammering home the point about Labour and taxes. Telling the audience that Labour’s manifesto had a “£38 billion tax gap in their spending plans”, she told the audience that “they’ve only declared a quarter of the taxes they are going to put up”.

Quite whether anyone understood her comment about no-one caring what colour the cat is as long as it catches the mice is another matter.

Angela Rayner was the most wooden of the combatants, repeating her “you crashed the economy” line like an action figure with a pull-string in its back, though her only job is to not say anything stupid.

Daisy Cooper, the deputy leader of the Lib Dems, did at least look as though she was enjoying herself, pulling off the difficult trick of smiling and talking at the same time as she said her party would pump an extra £9 billion into the NHS and fix the crisis with dentists.

The audience, however, seemed rather bored by the whole affair. By the halfway point there had been barely a ripple of applause for anything anyone had said.

09:18 PM BST

Nigel Farage: Labour and Tories have lied repeatedly on migration

Nigel Farage said “these people have lied to us repeatedly” on immigration, to which Stephen Flynn quipped “says you, come on!” There was laughter when Mr Farage said he’d “always told the truth”.

“Labour, it’s not even in your first six priorities for government, nothing under these are going to change,” Mr Farage said.

“The vast majority of Britons want net migration reduced significantly.”

09:17 PM BST

Mordaunt: Senior doctors are going to leave the NHS

Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, said there had to be an industrial and skills strategy.

“You’ve had 14 years to come up with some ideas,” Penny Mordaunt, the Commons Leader, said. “We have got an NHS long-term workforce plan... You have no idea, you have no workforce strategy, you have no industrial strategy.”

Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader at Westminster, said Nigel Farage’s “pet project on Brexit” was the biggest problem facing the UK economy, adding: “The Labour Party back Brexit as outlined by their manifesto today. Shameful.”

Ms Rayner said: “First of all we respect the result of the referendum, I know that the SNP never do and that’s what we said on that point. On the second point I absolutely believe that people come to this country and contribute but we cannot have an economy that just relies on overseas labour when unemployment is going up in the UK.”

Penny Mordaunt interjected: “We have a plan, you don’t. I’m fighting Labour’s plan to fight our healthcare professionals on their pensions. Senior doctors are going to leave the NHS.”

09:14 PM BST

Farage: I’m just talking pure facts on immigration

Nigel Farage said he was “just talking numbers”, adding: “I’m just talking pure facts. Housing, we have to build one new home every two minutes just to cope with legal net migration under this Conservative government. It is literally impossible.

“Mass migration is making us poorer, you’ll hear ‘GDP’s going up’, of course it is, there’s more people. GDP per capita has declined for the last six quarters.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth, the Plaid Cymru leader, said a crackdown on dependants was causing problems for universities, to which Mr Farage said: “You come to university in Britain, you can’t bring your mum, can you?”

09:12 PM BST

Hands up if net migration should come down...

Asked whether net migration needed to fall, Angela Rayner, Daisy Cooper, Penny Mordaunt and Nigel Farage put their hands up.

“What a sorry reflection. The Westminster status quo,” Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader at Westminster, said.

Ms Cooper said she welcomed immigration “because they contribute to our public services, but the numbers are due to come down anyway... We are not investing in our domestic workforce and we can do both at the same time.”

09:10 PM BST

Mordaunt: The public want us to control the numbers

Nigel Farage, the Reform leader, said immigration was “making us poorer”.

Penny Mordaunt, the Leader of the Commons, said: “Whatever the public think about the numbers what they want from their Government and their Parliament is to control access of foreign nationals to the UK.”

She talked through the Tory manifesto pledge for a migration cap each year, voted on by MPs on an annual basis.

“We can ensure that each year the numbers come down and our plans we are due to halve that number of migration by next summer. With us you get a cap and a plan, with Labour they have no cap, no number and no plan.”

09:09 PM BST

Analysis: This is no tedious action replay

Our Associate Editor Gordon Rayner writes:

With the same lineup as last week’s BBC debate, this could have been a tedious action replay, but Reform UK’s surge past the Tories in a new poll has electrified tonight’s events.

Nigel Farage wasted no time in celebrating the moment, using his introductory comment to tell the TV audience: “Just before we came on air we overtook the Conservatives in a national opinion poll. We are now the opposition to Labour.”

Even Penny Mordaunt’s hair seems to have gone a bit flat as a consequence. The rigid blonde helmet of last week’s appearance has been replaced by a less combative look, and on the Telegraph’s live voting tool Mr Farage already has five times as many votes as her.

09:08 PM BST

SNP hits out at ‘race to the Right’ on immigration

Carla Denyer of the Green Party said it’s “shameful when some politicians scapegoat the people who become our neighbours, our colleagues, our friends to distract from their failures to invest in our public services”.

Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader at Westminster, said Scotland “has a migration population - the problem is we don’t have enough migrants, because we have a declining working-age population”.

“This race to the Right that is happening in Westminster is so, so wrong. We can do better, we must demand better, not just from the Tories but from the Labour Party too.”

Daisy Cooper, the deputy Liberal Democrat leader, said the NHS, engineering, hospitality and many other sectors were “absolutely crying out for the people with the skills that they need”.

“What has happened with this Conservative government is that they always pull the lever on immigration, and people come here and we should welcome them when they do and contribute to our domestic workforce, but they haven’t invested in our domestic workforces. Liberal Democrats have a plan to give a higher minimum wage to careworkers so we can get people back working in the care sector.”

09:06 PM BST

Nigel Farage: We need net zero immigration

Christine from Manchester said she “keeps hearing migration levels are too high and getting higher, and it’s a strain on public services, but I understand we as a country need some foreign workers - what are you going to do?”

Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, said: “What we need at the moment is a skills strategy, we’ve not had an industrial and skills strategy. So what we’ve had is we’ve been overreliant on our economy from overseas workers to fill our skills gap and they’ve done a tremendous job. But what we really need as unemployment levels have gone higher again is an opportunity to match those skills and give those people an opportunity to take those jobs.”

Nigel Farage, the Reform leader, added: “It’s funny Angela Rayner says that because Labour today launched their six key policies, and didn’t mention the single most important issue affecting the lives of everybody in this country, namely, the population explosion caused directly by migration.

“The reason we voted Brexit and the reason Penny’s party got the massive majority in 2019 is we voted to reduce the numbers coming in and the numbers have exploded. Honestly, unbelievable, one in 30 people walking in the street out there has come in the last two years alone. The answer is we have to have net migration at zero. It means skilled workers can come, we can go and work abroad. We have to have a freeze on the total numbers coming in.”

09:00 PM BST

Rayner: We cannot afford to give private schools a tax break

Nigel Farage, the Reform leader, said: “There is a problem, we know the buildings, the Raac concrete, all of that.

“But we are back to the subject that nobody wants to discuss, the exploding population means our schools, our class sizes are getting better. Of course we’re recruiting more teachers, we need more teachers with an exploding population. And it’s a constant problem that none of the other policies even want to discuss.”

Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, said: “I respectfully disagree that we have the exploding population in our schools, we have falling rolls in our schools at the moment actually and that is a problem for many of our schools.

“But what we have said is we would end the tax break on private schools to put an extra 6,500 qualified teachers in the classroom. And we have the Tories who knew and were warned about Raac, knowing full well there is dangers with Raac buildings.”

Mr Farage said: “If you put 20 per cent on private school fees all you’ll end up finish up with is probably 25 per cent of those in private schools who will then be a burden for state schools. It is a self-defeating policy that removes parental choice.”

Ms Rayner responded: “Our state schools have had austerity, so they’ve had cuts and cuts and cuts. We cannot afford to give private schools a tax break when our state schools cannot afford to have the right teachers in the classroom.”

08:57 PM BST

Nigel Farage blames ‘exploding population’ for state of NHS

08:56 PM BST

Penny Mordaunt: Our education system is still world-class

Asked if the education system was “still world-class”, Penny Mordaunt said “I think it is world-class” to some laughter from the audience.

“When we took office literacy rates were trailing the world, now we are leading them... We have undertaken an enormous refurbishment programme. Investment has gone in and we’ve also increased the numbers of teachers that we have, 30,000 more teachers. That is absolutely vital and education standards are going up as a direct consequence of that.”

Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader at Westminster, said the “biggest difference” on education “is the fact that for our young people in Scotland, they go to university and they don’t pay a single penny in tuition fees... I don’t know if the Lib Dems agree with tuition fees or not, they’ve got quite a record on that.”

Daisy Cooper responded: “On the question of tuition fees we were punished for that, that’s democracy, I get that. On the point of tuition fees, we were punished for that, right? In 2015 when we were out of coalition, the Conservatives removed maintenance grants.”

08:53 PM BST

Rayner: We can make NHS savings if we put money in the right place

Angela Rayner said “if we put the money in the right place, we can actually make savings” on the NHS budget.

“At the moment we’re hemorrhaging money because the money is being used in the most inappropriate way and people are not getting the care that they deserve.”

Julie Etchingham moderating the ITV debate
Julie Etchingham moderating the ITV debate

08:52 PM BST

Nigel Farage: We need to spend the NHS budget better

Nigel Farage, the Reform leader, said: “We have to spend money wisely. Folks, I’ve explained to you we’ve massively increased the percentage of national cake we put into the NHS for a worse return. Does nobody else acknowledge we need to spend the money better?”

Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrat leader, replied: “Of course we do, that’s why the Liberal Democrats are saying prevention is better than cure... The Conservatives have gutted primary care and everybody has ended up in hospital because they can’t get the treatment they need upstream.”

08:50 PM BST

‘You’ve already crashed the economy once’

Penny Mordaunt, representing the Tories said: “Labour has only declared about a quarter of the taxes they’re going to put up. They’re going to have to put up a lot more.”

Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, hit back: “You’ve already crashed the economy once.”

Daisy Cooper, the deputy Liberal Democrat leader, noted the Tories had raised the tax burden to the highest level in 80 years.

“We would look to the big banks, the big tech companies who could pay a little bit more to fund our public services.”

08:49 PM BST

Farage versus Rayner on the NHS

Nigel Farage, the Reform leader, said: “Under a Conservative government we’ve got a brain drain. Just taxing the rich just doesn’t solve this. Everybody here is talking about more money, more investment, it hasn’t worked.”

Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, responded: “We do have to invest in our public services and we’ve seen that. Austerity was very damaging for our public services and actually cost us more in the long term. But we do need reform and we do need the new technologies that will help as well to bring those efficiencies.”

08:47 PM BST

Penny Mordaunt: Keep political dogma out of public services

Penny Mordaunt, the Commons Leader, said “political dogma” should be kept out of public services.

“Most of the public don’t care what colour the cat is, they just want some mice caught. Listen to professionals in these services. Keep political dogma out of it.”

Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrat leader, said the Conservatives had “absolutely gutted primary care”.

“We have dentists fleeing the NHS and working privately because the dental contract is so broken and hasn’t been fixed. Boris Johnson stood on the steps of Downing Street and promised to fix social care once and for good. And he hasn’t, and it’s now in crisis. So our plan is to fix the front door with more GPs and dentists and to fix the back door by fixing social care.”

Ms Mordaunt said: “That is exactly what we are doing. We have grown the number of healthcare professionals-”

Ms Cooper interrupted: “And they’re leaving, one in one out, it’s a leaky bucket.”

08:44 PM BST

Labour and SNP clash over private healthcare

Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, said “we have to fix the social care crisis as well”.

Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader at Westminster, accused Wes Streeting of “wanting to hold the door open to the private sector”, to which Ms Rayner interjected “that’s not true”.

“Wes Streeting has said in order to bring the record high waiting list down that we would use up capacity in the private sector to bring waiting lists down, rather than keeping people on waiting lists for years, waiting for an operation they need, but it will always be a public service under Labour.”

Mr Flynn said the “elephant in the room” was not migration but the number of vacancies in healthcare.

Nigel Farage interjected: “All we want is for it to be free at the point of delivery, that’s what matters, and actually Labour are quite right to say let’s use the private sector to try to bring down the waiting lists. Why not actually give people tax relief on paying money into private insurance to relieve more of the pressure?”

08:42 PM BST

How Farage-backed French healthcare system could work in UK

Nigel Farage has said the NHS “isn’t working” and he suggested the UK adopt a French-style healthcare system.

In a call to “change the model” of healthcare in the country, Mr Farage said: “There are countries right next door to us, there’s one country, France, it’s a very different way to funding the NHS.”

He said that in France “those who can afford it through their taxes pay into an insurance scheme”, while “those that can’t afford it, don’t pay in, so it’s for the mutual benefit of everybody.”

In France all residents must have some form of health insurance, whether state or private. The state system covers everyone regardless of income level or employment status. If your household income is below a certain threshold, you may be eligible for free health insurance coverage.

Alex Barton has this explainer of how it could work here

08:41 PM BST

Daisy Cooper: Public services completely broken and nothing works

Daisy Cooper, the deputy Liberal Democrat leader, said: “I hear from people all over the country, they’re working hard, they’re striving, they’re supporting their families, they’re paying their taxes and when they go to use their public services, whether it’s the NHS, whether it’s schools, whether it’s the police or anything else, they’re broken. They’re completely broken and nothing works.

“Now in this election we’ve said our manifesto is a manifesto to save the NHS and social care. We’re pledging £9bn to invest upstream. We see on the TV all these disastrous pictures of people dying in the back of ambulances, having suffered the indignity of corridor, because they can’t see a GP, because they can’t get appointments, and that’s what we want to fix.”

08:40 PM BST

Rayner: The NHS is one of our proudest achievements

Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, said: “The NHS is one of our proudest achievements and it will be Labour that has to fix it again.”

She recalled her time as a home care worker and union representative, which led to redundancies.

“We’ve got to fix the workforce problem and we’ve got to invest. That’s why we’d end the non-dom tax status so we can put 40,000 new appointments in, and we will use the private sector to bring down those waiting lists but the NHS will remain a public service under Labour.”

08:38 PM BST

Farage blames NHS crisis on ‘exploding population’

Nigel Farage said the NHS had “two fundamental problems” - the first of which was caseloads up by 43 per cent, which he attributed to the “exploding population” of the UK.

“It’s impossible to keep up. Secondly, everybody talks about more money, more money. We’ve gone from spending seven per cent of the national cake to 11 per cent of the national cake to worse and worse returns.”

Mr Farage suggested there should be a French-style insurance system, adding: “Let’s think more broadly.”

Carla Denyer, the Green leader, said people were leaving the NHS “for better pay and better conditions elsewhere”, pledging “transformative investment” in health under the Greens.

08:37 PM BST

Penny Mordaunt: The NHS is an act of faith for Britons

Dennis from Southport said he was born around the time the NHS was founded. “It was an amazing but unfortunately now it is on its knees. So many public services are not working as they used to. Do any of you have any ideas that are big enough to make things work again?”

Penny Mordaunt, representing the Tories, said: “The NHS in particular is an act of faith for the people of this country, they want to be able to rely on it. But since the Covid pandemic the caseload that our healthcare professionals are dealing with has gone up by 43 per cent. The only way we can reduce those waiting lists is to keep the NHS budget strong, that we have done, that we will continue to do.

“The only party on this platform that has ever cut this NHS budget is Labour, they cut it three times in Wales, and we have to increase the number of healthcare professionals that we have. We have been doing that, 70,000 more nurses for example, we have to continue that and we won’t do if we can’t retain them in the service because they’re being taxed out of it because of their pension.”

Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, said “he would not be standing here” if it was not for the NHS, adding: “The thing the NHS requires more than anything is clear financial support from the government and a plan for the future.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth of Plaid Cymru said Labour had “mismanaged health for 25 years” in Wales, insisting sustainability of funding must be at the heart of the NHS.

08:33 PM BST

Politicians’ opening pitches

Angela Rayner: “We have a real chance to turn the page and have change in Britain, voting for Labour on July 4.”

Daisy Cooper: “Tonight I hope to share with you some more details on our plan to save the NHS, tackle the cost-of-living crisis and to protect our local environment.”

Penny Mordaunt: “I’m going to talking to you about which of your taxes the Conservatives will cut. Labour will be trying not to talk about the ones they’re going to put up.”

Carla Denyer: “The Tories are toast, but Labour are offering little better. With the Green Party, you can choose real hope and real change.”

Nigel Farage: “Just before we came on air we overtook the Conservatives in the national opinion polls. We are now the opposition to Labour.”

Stephen Flynn: “We are here to always put Scotland’s interests first.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth: “Tonight I’ll make the case for a fairer, more ambitious Wales but also for a new kind of politics that can matter to you wherever you are.”

08:31 PM BST

Julie Etchingham at the helm tonight

Julie Etchingham has introduced tonight’s seven-way debate, which is taking place in Salford.

Julie Etchingham
Julie Etchingham

08:28 PM BST

Tories: Labour is the party of higher taxes

A Conservative spokesman said: “Today, the Labour Party has made crystal clear that they are the party of higher taxes.

“The ink on the page of their own manifesto commits them to the highest tax burden this country has ever seen. Their £38.5bn of unfunded spending, and the £2,094 that will cost working families in taxes, is only just the start.

“Meanwhile, the Conservative Party has announced a clear plan, taking bold action to cut taxes and secure a more prosperous future for our country.

“So the British people should be in no doubt - a vote for anyone but the Conservative Party is a vote for Labour’s tax trap manifesto, taking us right back to square one.”

08:24 PM BST

Five minutes to go

The ITV seven-party debate is now taking place against the extraordinary backdrop of Reform overtaking the Conservatives in a YouGov poll, the first survey that has shown them ahead of the Tories.

All eyes will be on Penny Mordaunt, the Leader of the Commons, and how she responds and performs tonight on behalf of Rishi Sunak’s beleaguered party.

08:19 PM BST

Nigel Farage: Reform is the real opposition to Labour

08:18 PM BST

Nandy insists Labour ‘not complacent’

Lisa Nandy insisted Labour is not being “complacent” about its chances of victory, writes Tim Sigsworth, after senior Conservatives began to warn of an potential “super majority” for Sir Keir Starmer.

The shadow foreign minister said: “We’re not complacent about the outcome of the election. Not a single vote has been cast.

“But we are confident in the policies that we put forward today and we’re confident most of all that we can restore trust in politics by showing that these are promises that we can keep.”

08:17 PM BST

Don’t believe the polls, says David Davis

Sir David Davis has said voters should not believe the polls after Reform UK overtook the Conservatives for the first time, writes Tim Sigsworth.

Speaking in the spin room ahead of tonight’s ITV debate, he said: “On the doorstep in my constituency, I don’t see it.

“I mean, right in the beginning, I’ve been looking for half the votes, half the Tory vote to be Reform. That’s what you’d expect. Even Stephens, plus or minus. They’re not.”

He added: “I’m sure the polls are right today. But the other thing I know from my 10 different campaigns is the polls are off always.

“There’s only one opinion poll that’s not off and it’s the one they take as people come out of the polling station. All the others are off by between six and 20 per cent.”

08:12 PM BST

Reform overtakes Tories for the first time

Reform UK has overtaken the Conservatives in an opinion poll for the first time.

A YouGov survey showed Nigel Farage’s party on 19 per cent, ahead of the Tories on 18 per cent.

07:58 PM BST

All hands on deck in the spin room

It’s all hands on deck here in the ITV spin room in Manchester ahead of tonight’s second seven-way debate, writes Tim Sigsworth, who is there for The Telegraph.

Tonight’s line up is exactly the same as last Friday’s first ITV debate: Penny Mordaunt for the Conservatives, Angela Rayner for Labour, Nigel Farage for Reform UK, Daisy Cooper for the Lib Dems, Stephen Flynn for the SNP and Rhun ap Iorwerth for Plaid Cymru.

The action will unfold at ITV Studios in Salford -right next door to the set of Coronation Street,

Viewers should therefore expect a soap opera of a debate with verbal fisticuffs aplenty.

07:57 PM BST

Reform goes for the silent treatment

Reform UK has unleashed a party political broadcast with no audio and the same message on the screen for five minutes.

The text that is displayed for all five minutes of the election advert reads: “Britain is Broken. Britain Needs Reform.”

07:53 PM BST

Starmer’s manifesto puts him in a spending ‘straitjacket’, says Ed Balls

Labour’s “straitjacket” manifesto would make Sir Keir Starmer’s first year in office very difficult, Ed Balls has warned.

Sir Keir has explicitly ruled out any rises in income tax, National Insurance and VAT under a Labour government, and the promise formed part of the manifesto unveiled this morning in Manchester.

Speaking on his Political Currency podcast, Mr Balls, a former Labour shadow chancellor, said the Labour leader and Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, face “huge expectations” while giving themselves “little room for manoeuvre”.

“I think people will look back on this manifesto, which is now seen as cautious and careful, and think of it as being something which was very constraining, and a potentially risky thing to do for Labour because this manifesto is absolutely boxing Labour in,” he said.

“It will be seen as a straitjacket, with tough fiscal rules and limits on borrowing, big commitments not to raise income tax or VAT or national insurance.

”For Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves there are huge expectations, no money, little room for manoeuvre, inherited plans which are very tight, and an economy which isn’t growing. So I think that creates a big set of expectations and that is the consequence of the manifesto strategy. This manifesto makes the first year in government for Labour very difficult.

07:51 PM BST

David Davis: I wouldn’t recommend opposition

Sir David Davis, a former Brexit minister, said Labour would “usher in a parliament of tax rises”.

“People I’ve seen on the doorstep worry about that and they are starting to see past all of the shenanigans with Farage and say I might have voted Reform, but actually, that’ll just help Labour, I’m going to vote Tory,” Sir David told Sky News.

Asked about Rishi Sunak’s background, he said: “I heard a bit of the attack on him over not having Sky TV. I just took that as the thing his parents sacrificed so they could send him to a very good school.”

Sir David added: “I don’t recommend opposition, it’s hard work, it’s difficult certainly in the early years, it’s very difficult to score any points. Remember William Hague’s point... So I don’t recommend it at all. In a way I quite enjoy opposition because I’m quite good at it, I’m an oppositionist MP in some ways. But truth be told for most of the Conservative Party it’s a grim thing to do if that’s where we end up.

“But we are still three weeks away from the result. And when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, three weeks was the length of the whole campaign, it’s a lot of time for things to change.”

07:38 PM BST

What happened at the last seven-way debate?

The first seven-way debate took place on Friday in the shadow of the row over Rishi Sunak leaving D-Day commemorations in Normandy early.

Penny Mordaunt, the Leader of the Commons, said Mr Sunak’s decision had been “completely wrong” and had “rightly apologised” to not just veterans but also the wider public.

Clashes between Ms Mordaunt and Angela Rayner, the deputy leader, dominated the debate as they went head-to-head over immigration, energy security and the nuclear deterrent.

Angela Rayner and Penny Mordaunt
Angela Rayner and Penny Mordaunt clashed repeatedly during the first debate - Jeff Overs/BBC

Meanwhile, Nigel Farage warned Britain is living through a “population crisis” that is “making us poorer” and railed against the failure of multiple successive Tory governments to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands.

A snap poll of 1,031 voters by More in Common found most thought Mr Farage won the debate, followed by Ms Rayner. Mr Farage received 25 per cent of the vote while Ms Rayner received 19 per cent.

07:32 PM BST

What is in Labour’s manifesto?

The Labour Party has unveiled its blueprint for Britain today at a general election campaign event in Manchester, at which Sir Keir Starmer took to the stage to promise tax increases of £8.3 billion and the recognition of a Palestinian state.

Under the simple slogan “change”, Sir Keir launched the much-anticipated manifesto and remained steadfast on Labour’s decision to include “no tax surprises” for National Insurance, VAT, income and corporation tax in the document.

What are the key policies? Take a look below

Read the manifesto in full here.

07:26 PM BST

Who is taking part tonight?

The debate will air on ITV from 8.30pm and feature the same lineup as last week’s seven-way BBC debate on Friday.

Penny Mordaunt, the Leader of the Commons, will be representing the Conservatives, while Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, is up for the official opposition and Daisy Cooper, the deputy Liberal Democrat leader, for Sir Ed Davey’s party.

Reform leader Nigel Farage, Green leader Carla Denyer and Plaid Cymru leader ‎Rhun ap Iorwerth are also participating, with Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, representing the Scottish nationalist party.

Tonight's line up will feature the same party representatives as the BBC debate on June 4 (pictured)
Tonight's line up will feature the same party representatives as the BBC debate on June 4 (pictured) - BBC

07:24 PM BST

What have you missed so far today?

If you’re just joining our coverage now, here’s what you missed today:

07:11 PM BST

Where to watch the debate?

Party representatives will go head to head once again in the second seven-way election debate, this time hosted by ITV, as the race to July 4 continues.

The seven candidates will face 90 minutes of questioning from Julie Etchingham, the ITV newsreader who oversaw the first debate on June 4, and a live studio audience in Salford, Manchester.

The programme will be avaliable to watch on ITV1, as well as live on their streaming platform ITVX.

For those watching from Scotland, the ITV debates will be on the equivalent channel STV.

ITV also streamed the first debate on June 4 live on their Youtube channel and are expected to do the same tonight.

Find out all you need to know about the upcoming election debates here.

07:07 PM BST

Hello and welcome to our live coverage

We’re bringing you the latest updates from ITV’s seven-party leader debate this evening.

Dominic Penna, The Telegraph’s political correspondent, will be bringing you all the latest updates.

The debate begins at 8.30pm.