Election latest: Lib Dem leader says Tories 'out of ideas' - but refuses to declare austerity was a mistake (2024)

Election news
  • Bulletin:What you need to know this evening
  • Lib Dems launch manifesto to 'save the NHS'
  • Pledges include free social care, bereavement support for parents, tackling river sewage, and 'fixing' ties with EU - Ed Conway looks at how much it would cost
  • Reform outlines tax plan|Is it 'Trussonomics on steroids'?
  • Tories and Labour fall in new poll|PM 'not thought about' quitting
  • Scottish Tory leader to resign|'I'm not running away'
  • Live reporting by Jennifer Scott and (earlier)Tim Baker
Expert analysis
  • Ed Conway:Uncertain Lib Dem manifesto has one certainty
  • Tamara Cohen:Labour takes on enormous childcare challenge
  • Connor Gillies:Big moment for Scottish politics
  • Rob Powell:Sunak struggles to change weather after bad two weeks
Election essentials
  • Battle For No 10:PM and Starmer taking part in Sky News special
  • Campaign Heritage:Memorable moments from elections gone by
  • Trackers:Who's leading polls?|Is PM keeping promises?
  • Follow Sky's politics podcasts:Electoral Dysfunction|Politics At Jack And Sam's
  • Read more:Who is standing down?|Key seats to watch|How to register to vote|What counts as voter ID?|Check if your constituency is changing|Your essential guide to election lingo|Sky's election night plans

17:15:01

What you need to know from the campaign trail

Welcome to our latest rundown of the main things you need to know from the campaign trail today.

We've had a manifesto launch, a Reform policy event, and much more.

If you're just joining us from your commute home this evening, here's what you need to know:

  • The Liberal Democrats have launched the first manifesto of the election, vowing to "save the NHS";
  • Leader Sir Ed Davey saidfixing social care would be key, while other pledges included stopping raw sewage being dumped into Britain's waterways and improving ties with the EU;
  • But the party leader (who enjoyed a trip to Thorpe Park this afternoon) refused to say austerity - enforced by the Tory-Lib Dem coalition - was a mistake during an interview with our deputy political editor Sam Coates;
  • You can read the party's manifesto in full hereand read our full story on the launch event below:
  • Reform's tax-cutting agenda has been outlined by the party leadership, with ambitions to raise the threshold for paying income tax to £20,000and the point at which small business pay VAT from £90,000 to £150,000;
  • This so-called "great British tax cut" would be funded by overhauling the Bank of England, though it's seen Reform accused of pursuing a strategy of "Trussonomics on steroids";
  • Nigel Farage also used the event to double down on his criticism of the prime minister for leaving last week's D-Day commemorations.
  • Rishi Sunak himself has insisted he did not consider quitting over the fallout from his decision to leave D-Day commemorations early, saying he still felt positive about the Tory campaign;
  • But it's been another difficult day for the Conservatives, with their Scottish leader Douglas Ross having announced he'll quit the role after the election;
  • He's defended the decision to instead focus on running to be an MP, despite it being an almost complete reversal of his previous position;
  • And our chief political correspondent Jon Craig has heard more discontent from Tories over claims the party chairman has been parachuted into a safe seat, with one labelling it a "disgrace".
  • Elsewhere, Labour has announced it will honour the government's commitment to expand free childcare;
  • Our political correspondent Tamara Cohen says the party has taken on an "enormous challenge" by pledging to take up the policy, which the government has faced serious trouble implementing;
  • Labour has also said it will offer 100,000 new nursery places, and claimed the Tories' spending pledges "do not add up".

That's all for our teatime bulletin - stick with the Politics Hub throughout the afternoon for more news and analysis, and we'll havePolitics Hub With Sophy Ridgefrom 7pm.

17:00:01

Lib Dem leader refuses six times to say austerity was a mistake

The leader of the Liberal Democrats has refused six times to say austerity was a mistake while being interviewed by Sky News.

Sir Ed Davey served as a minister under David Cameron after his party and the Tories did a deal to run the country following the 2010 election.

And between then and 2015, his government oversaw swathing cuts to public services.

Our deputy political editor Sam Coatesput it to Sir Ed that the Lib Dems' pledges for this year's election, focused on fixing problems in the NHS and social care, were only needed to repair issues caused by the coalition.

But Sir Ed disagreed, saying: "I think the real big problems have come under the Conservatives since 2015."

'We managed to stop them'

He said his party pushed for measures on care for the elderly and the disabled when in office, but the Tories "broke their promises".

And after the joint endeavour ended, things got worse.

"When the Tories were by themselves, they took an absolute axe to some of the poorest people in our country, and that was absolutely shocking," said the leader.

"And I am really proud that we managed to stop them for so long."

'Tories are out of ideas'

Pushed by Sam Coates over his refusal to say if he endorsed the decisions made by the coalition, Sir Ed replied: "I fought the Conservatives every day and in this election I've made it clear there is no way we will allow the Conservatives back into office.

"They are out of ideas and excuses and need to be out of office.

"Every vote for a Liberal Democrat will be a vote for a great champion to put forward those policies to rescue our NHS and to get the Conservatives out of government."

16:45:01

Row over Scottish Tory leader's election seat 'looked bad'

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has been defending his decision to stand down to focus on a bid to become a Westminster MP.

He'll be standing in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East, which is considered a fairly safe Tory seat.

His announcement today marked an almost complete reversal of his previous position, where he said he would not stand as an MP so he could focus on his current job and being a member of the Scottish parliament.

Ruth Davidson, one of his predecessors as Scottish Tory leader, has admitted the whole affair could have been handled better.

Speaking on Sky's Electoral Dysfunction podcast, she said he'd been "having a pretty good election until he put himself forward as candidate" for the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East seat.

That sparked a row because fellow Tory David Duguid, who is recovering from spinal surgery, had been hoping to stand there.

Ms Davidson said the furore surrounding Mr Ross "would have been avoided" had he not put himself forward for the seat.

It "looked bad" and he "wasn't really able to explain himself very well".

'Part of the job is to take the punches'

While it meant "he was probably always going to have to stand down" as Scottish Tory leader, she questioned the decision to announce it today.

"Part of the job is to take the punches," she said.

"That's what leadership is."

Hear more from Ruth on a new episode of Electoral Dysfunction from 6am tomorrow.

16:29:01

Lib Dem manifesto has some uncertain costings - but one thing is for sure

If you're wondering whether the sums in the Lib Dem manifesto add up and, to adopt the phrase Sir Ed Davey used rather a lot today, are "fully costed", the answer is… well, yes, sort of.

If you have full faith in all the numbers published in the costings document alongside the manifesto, they are indeed fully-funded.

For the £27bn or so of extra spending commitments is paid for with the £27bn or so of extra taxes and money raising. Hurrah!

Except that it's not so simple, because it's not altogether clear we should have full faith in those numbers.

To take one example: the Lib Dems say they're planning to raise £3.62bn (note the two decimal places) by reforming aviation taxes.

Yet, when you ask what level they're actually planning to increase aviation taxes to, they don't have an answer.

Then there's the fact that the main revenue raiser is actually not a new tax at all, but the assumption that they will be able to squeeze tax avoiders even more than the last lot, raising an extra £7bn billion in the process.

These are hardly the only question marks.

I'm a little sceptical the Lib Dem plan to solve the asylum crisis - allowing asylum seekers to work after three months - would really bring in a whopping £4.3bn, as the costings document implies.

Perhaps the most instructive takeaway from today's manifesto is to note that it is far, far less ambitious than the one that preceded it.

When Jo Swinson was leader back in 2019, her manifesto involved spending plans of roughly £63bn a year - today's manifesto is basically half that size, even less once you adjust for inflation.

Whether you conclude that's down to the times we're living in, with the public finances more constrained, or because the Lib Dems have changed considerably, it's certainly a less radical vision than last time around.

16:02:01

Labour claims 'money is simply not there' for Tory policy pledges

Labour's shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth is taking on the role of his party's attack dog this afternoon, trying to tear apart the funding for the Tories' pledges ahead of their manifesto launch this week.

Both parties have been firing shots at each other over their costings for the past week or so - and whether their rivals would need to raise taxes to pay for policies.

'Tory sums do not add up'

Mr Ashworth is trying to land another hit today, telling a news conference "the money is simply not there" for the Tory promises and labelled their plan to fund them through welfare cuts "a flagrant lie".

He claimed any savings made by the Department for Work and Pensions had already been spent on cuts to national insurance.

The £6bn the Tories hope to raise by cracking down on tax avoidance was "overestimated", he added, and nearly all of it would be needed to pay for their national insurance plan anyway.

"The Tory sums do not add up," he added, as he declared Labour "the party of stability and sound public finances".

He dared the Conservatives to "prove him wrong" and "publish their costings". We will let you know what they say…

15:45:01

Outgoing Scottish Tory leader denies putting himself before party

There was big news from Scottish politics this morning, as the country's Tory leader Douglas Ross announced he was stepping down.

It came less than a week after Mr Ross announced he'd be standing to become an MP at Westminster.

He had previously said he wouldn't.

It made this morning's news an almost complete reversal of his previous position, where he said he would not stand as an MP so he could focus on being a member of the Scottish parliament and his work in Scotland.

He'll be standing in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East, which is considered a fairly safe Tory seat - but he denied this was a case of him putting his career above his party and country.

Speaking to broadcasters, Mr Ross said it would be a "huge honour and privilege" to be the new constituency's MP, saying voters there had a "straight choice between the Scottish Conservatives and SNP".

'I'm not running away from anything'

Mr Ross said he had chosen to step down as Scottish Tory leader so he could tell local voters "they will be my number one priority".

He disputed a claim by Alba Party leader Alex Salmon that he was a rat escaping from a sinking ship.

"I'm not running away from anything," he insisted.

15:22:01

Who is Sir Ed Davey? The Lib Dem leader who cared for his terminally ill mother as a child

Sir Ed Davey has today launched the Liberal Democrats' manifesto.

It's the first one since he took on the leadership after the party's disastrous results at the 2019 general election.

Sir Ed is hoping for much better this time round, having overseen several by-election victories during this parliament.

Indeed, in many seats the Lib Dems are seen as the main threat to the Tories and the party is hoping to have a big role to play in Westminster politics after 4 July.

Ahead of the big day, Sky's Faith Ridler has taken a look back at the life and career of the party leader:

15:00:04

A rollercoaster election campaign continues...

From paddleboarding to waterslides, Sir Ed Davey has made a point of having a good time during this election campaign.

And now he's celebrated the launch of the Lib Dem manifesto today by heading off to Thorpe Park.

This editor is extremely jealous.

14:39:25

What is in the Lib Dem manifesto - and what will it cost?

Following the Liberal Democrats manifesto launch, which the party claimed is "fully-costed", our economics and data editor Ed Conway has been picking through it to see if everything adds up.

He'll be doing the same for all the manifestos as they come out.

Check out what he had to say below:

14:14:26

Labour and Tories fall in post-D-Day poll - as Reform and Greens rise

You can never have enough polls during an election.

JL Partners have today published their latest poll of 2,004 people, asking how they expect to vote.

This took place after D-Day last week, when Rishi Sunak left the commemorations in Normandy early, sparking a significant backlash.

The results show Labour maintaining a 17-point lead - but the party dropped two points compared to the pollster's last survey, which was before the D-Day anniversary event.

The gap stayed the same as the Tories also dropped two points.

The full results are as follows, with the change from the previous period in brackets.

  • LAB: 41% (-2)
  • CON: 24% (-2)
  • REF: 15% (+3)
  • LDEM: 11% (-)
  • GRN: 5% (+2)
Election latest: Lib Dem leader says Tories 'out of ideas' - but refuses to declare austerity was a mistake (2024)
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