Election debate live: Corbyn and Johnson go head-to-head

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Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are going head-to-head on the BBC for their second and final televised debate of the General Election campaign.

They are facing questions from a studio audience in Maidstone, Kent, moderated by former BBC political editor and Radio 4 Today presenter Nick Robinson.

General Election 2019
Nick Robinson moderated the debate for the BBC *(BBC/PA)


Closing the debate, Mr Corbyn said: “We can tackle the climate emergency, end child poverty and properly fund our National Health Service.

“On Thursday you can choose hope and vote for real change.”

In his closing remarks, Mr Johnson said: “This Thursday we can choose another hung parliament under Mr Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon with two chaotic referendums.

“Or else we can get Brexit done, get out of neutral and get a parliament that works for you.”



A tricky question now – “What punishment is appropriate for elected politicians who lie in their campaigns.”

Mr Johnson responds with a somewhat jokey answer that they should be made to go on their knees through Westminster in penance.

Mr Corbyn said there needs to be tests on statements made, saying there should be an independent check of claims such as the Leave campaign’s £350m NHS side-of-bus pledge.


The leaders are next asked what they would do “to get the hate out of politics”.

Mr Johnson says the Tories are having an independent inquiry into Islamophobia and anti-Semitism within his party, and says that Parliament is looking at the protection of female MPs.

Mr Robinson challenges the PM on his claim that those who offend are “out of first bounce”.

Mr Corbyn is asked about the criticism of Labour by the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis – and repeats that anti-Semitism has no place in his party.


General Election 2019
The leaders are debating for an hour on the BBC (BBC/PA)

Security question – “Are you prepared to put public safety ahead of human rights?”

Mr Corbyn says it’s not an “either/or” and that you have to fund prisons, police and security services and human rights are our defence against autocracy.

Mr Johnson says he wants people convicted of terrorism to serve their full term in prison.


Both party leaders challenged the independent economic assessment by the Institute of Fiscal Studies of their manifestos when they said neither Tories nor Labour had credible spending plans.

Mr Corbyn said: “They questioned some aspects of our programme and we’re happy to discuss that with them but we are the party that actually produced the funding of it.

“The Conservative Party have produced nothing in the way of how they’re going to pay to anything they suggest they are doing.”

Mr Johnson said: “On the contrary, our programme is fully costed it is there in the manifesto and it is a great, great programme.

“And the other one other advantage that we have apart from not wrecking the economy and not having a fiscal meltdown which is what Labour always do … we would get our country moving forward again by getting Brexit done.”

Mr Corbyn says businesses can be assured that under Labour they would have a choice and would know what Brexit would look like.


Lib Dem candidate Layla Moran suggests a diversion from the focus of the debate:


After a diversion into the merits of socialism and capitalism, the leaders are asked how they are going to pay for their campaign pledges.


General Election 2019
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn going head to head in the BBC Election Debate (BBC/PA)

Asked by a trainee nurse how they will help her, Mr Johnson says the Tories will bring back bursaries for nurses and criticises Mr Corbyn for his four-day-week plans, asking how the NHS can cope with this.

In reply the Labour leader says his party will fund the NHS properly and questions Mr Johnson on his oft-queried figures of 40 planned new hospitals.

Mr Johnson said he would put in £34 billions more into the NHS and 50,000 more nurses, adding that he would “unpack that figure” as people “complain about it”.

He said: “But it means retaining the 19,000 who might otherwise drop out of the service and then recruiting another 31,000 new nurses.”

Mr Johnson added: “What I think is totally incomprehensible is to have a system where you try to get more nurses and more staff into the NHS and simultaneously ask the whole of the public sector to work a four day week.”

Mr Corbyn said there are 43,000 nurse vacancies, pointing out that it was a Tory Government that cut the nurse bursary, and a Tory Lib Dem coalition that increased student fees.

The Labour leader said: “The Prime Minister, the day after he was appointed, announced there was going to be 40 new hospitals, a week later that became 20, a bit later on it became six new hospitals. He seems to have a problem with the figures about hospital building in Britain.”

Mr Johnson said he has a clear agenda to upgrade 20 hospitals and build 40 new hospitals.

“It’s perfectly true,” the Prime Minister said, adding that the cash allocated for the whole hospital build is for six initially, but the seed funding is being sorted for the rest.



Mr Corbyn is asked about his position on Brexit and repeats that he wants to rise above the debate and implement the decision made by the British people.

“You cannot negotiate a deal on an issue you’re neutral about,” Mr Johnson claims.

Meanwhile, the Labour leader said Mr Johnson wants a trade deal with the US which would take “seven years” to negotiate.

He added: “He knows he can’t get a deal quickly with the USA because of the way in which the US political system works.

“And so what he will do is walk out of a relationship with the EU into a relationship with nobody.”


A dig from Mr Johnson about the Labour leader’s claim to not want to break up the union. He says he finds it strange that this is Mr Corbyn’s position after years of supporting the IRA who aimed to bring about a united Ireland.

Mr Corbyn said that his aim was peace in Ireland and reminded the PM that the Good Friday Agreement was agreed under Labour.

On the leak of a Treasury document about what trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland would look like under the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, Mr Corbyn: “It shows quite clearly that there are going to be charges, there are going to be customs checks, there are going to be restrictions on trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.”

Responding, Mr Johnson said: “Actually that is not true. The whole of the UK comes out. England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland together we do free trade deals together Northern Ireland is part of the customs territory of the UK and we are united.”


Prominent Conservatives attacked Jeremy Corbyn for his position on Brexit.

Matt Hancock tweeted: “YET AGAIN Jeremy Corbyn fails to answer what his position is on Brexit. He can’t say he will get Brexit done”

Dominic Raab tweeted: “Prime Ditherer – Jeremy Corbyn still won’t say if he’s for or against Leaving the EU.”

Nicky Morgan tweeted: “It simply isn’t credible for Corbyn as PM to ‘negotiate a Leave deal’ and then stand back from the referendum he advocates – for a start why would the EU negotiate such a deal if the UK’s leader doesn’t believe in it”



They are next asked if they can guarantee Brexit will happen in 2020 – Mr Corbyn says he can guarantee a final say vote in a second referendum.

Mr Johnson launches in a second question that was asked on what advantages the UK will have outside of the EU – and runs through many of the policies he has mentioned earlier in the campaign.

He then questions how Jeremy Corbyn can get a new Brexit deal if the Labour front bench doesn’t believe in the move.


The first question from the audience is about whether the leaders are worried that the intervention of former prime ministers Sir John Major and Tony Blair will have an impact on the election results.

The questioner added: “Are they just a couple of old has-beens?

Mr Johnson said of Sir John: “I don’t think he’s right. And we have a fantastic plan to get Brexit done. It’s a deal that’s ready to go. It’s oven ready. We can get it back into Parliament by Christmas if we have a majority Conservative Government.

“Unlike Mr Major, I lead a party that is now totally united. All 630 plus Conservative candidates at this election actually back my deal.”

On whether he should be worried about Tony Blair’s intervention, Mr Corbyn said: “A vote for Labour is a vote to end austerity, a vote for Labour is to invest in the future of this country.

“And so, Tony Blair and John Major are welcome to make the comments that they do. I urge them to think for a moment, think for a moment, about the reality of what nine years of austerity has done to the people of this country.”


Mr Corbyn is the first to give his opening statement, saying voters need an “ambitious government on their side”.

He added: “Four million children live in poverty, people can’t get appointments to see their GP, elderly people can’t get the care they need and millions of families are struggling to pay bills and make ends meet.”

In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged voters to give the Tories a majority.

He added: “The only way to unleash the potential of this whole country is if we get a working majority Conservative government because the only possible alternative is another hung parliament.”

General Election 2019
Boris Johnson arrives for the BBC Election Debate in Maidstone (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Audience: Selected to include equal numbers of Conservative and Labour supporters, with a smaller number of undecided voters and supporters of other parties.

It has also been weighted to include a slim majority of Leave voters over Remainers in the EU referendum, apart from a few younger voters who were not old enough to vote in 2016.

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