Tuesday 19 November 2019 8:06 pm

General Election 2019: Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn go head-to-head in ITV leaders' debate

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8:55pm Corbyn is now wrapping up – telling voters this is “a once in a generation” opportunity to vote for change.

Johnson says it is the chance to “get Brexit done”, and that Corbyn having failed to answer questions about a second Brexit vote and Scottish referendum he is “not fit to be your Prime Minister”.

8:52pm What Christmas present would you leave for each other? Corbyn says he would leave a copy of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens so he can “then understand how nasty Scrooge was”.


Johnson tries to say it would be a copy of his “brilliant” Brexit deal, but is told it has to be non-political.

He ends up saying some dansom jam.

8:51pm Asked which current foreign leader they most admire, Johnson says it’s “the EU27 – all of them” – for giving him his excellent deal.

Corbyn says it’s the general secretary of the UN.

8:49pm Asked about the monarchy, Corbyn says “it needs a bit of improvement”.

Johnson says “the institution” is beyond reproach.

Asked specifically about Prince Andrew Corbyn says the primary concern should be with the victims of Jeffrey Epstein, which Johnson echoes, saying “the law must take its course”.


8:46pm Asked about spending – whether he has found the magic money tree, or in Corbyn’s case a couple, Johnson quips that his rival has found “a magic money forest”. He claims the rate at which Labour would borrow “would push up interest rates for everyone in the country”.

Corbyn talks about the extent to which austerity has affected society – “yes, we will invest in education, housing, and health”.

8:45pm Corbyn says “we are a society of billionaires and the very poor, neither of which is right”.

8:43pm Johnson confirms there will be a policy on social care, and suggests that it will be different from 2017’s disastrous one, which came to be known as the Dementia Tax, and torpedoed Theresa May’s hopes of getting a majority.

“No one should have to pay for the cost of social care through selling their home and everydboy should have dignity and security in old age.”

8:41pm Johnson says the single biggest threat to our economy is “our failure to get Brexit done”.

But the conversation is returned to the NHS. Corbyn is asked to rule out “any private provision in the NHS”. He says what is happening is privatisation of services within the NHS, “which is very dangerous”.

8:36pm Back after a brief ad break, the pair are asked about the pressures the NHS are under at the minute. Corbyn talks about a friend of his who died yesterday, citing lack of staff resources.

Johnson follows by outlining existing pledges to build more hospitals, hire more GPs and nurses to have a service that is better for users. This is only possible if we have a strong economy, he adds.

Corbyn says A&E performance is at its worst ever, notes there are 4m waiting for operations while jobs are unfilled and services are privatised. he says privatisation should be ended – but Johnson says NHS is not being privatised “nor will the NHS ever be up for sale in any negotiation”.

He brings the conversation back to Labour’s weak point – Liam Byrne’s handwritten note saying there is “no money left” – and blasts as “crackpot” a key pledge to cut working hours to four days.

Corbyn says a shorter working week would be paid for by productivity savings elsewhere – to cackles of laughter. He adds “Actually a shorter working week is probably a good thing for health and wellbeing, as is decent pay”.

8:29pm Asked to look at each other – Corbyn refuses to do so as he complains about the use of Johnson’s language and failure to address it.

Johnson walks across the stage to shake his hand as Corbyn looks thunderous.

8:28pm Does truth matter in this election? Johnson says “I think it does” – to a smattering of laughter.

Asked if they will take “personal responsibility for the way this debate has unfolded” – they are reminded of broken promises (Johnson) and antisemitism (Corbyn).

Corbyn says antisemitism is “an absolutely evil, a scourge on our society”. He says he has taken action, and suspended those who are found to have engaged in antisemitism. “We take it very seriously,” he says.

Johnson says he is “listening open mouthed” at Corbyn’s comments regarding anti-semitism, and adds “it is a complete failure of leadership… but it’s even worse when you look at their Brexit policy”.

8:25pm The leaders are asked how they can be trusted.

Corbyn says he spends “a great deal of time travelling around the country listening to people” and makes decision by “consensus”. He says his strategy has been to recognise that regardless of how people voted on Brexit “your issues are the same… bring people together”.

Johnson asks that people look at what he has said he would do and what he has delivered, either as London mayor or as PM so far – references the extra police officers, living wage and his Brexit deal. But reminded that this is “about personal integrity and individual character”.

8:18pm Asked if the union is worth Brexit, Corbyn says the agreement that has been struck would do precisely that.

Johnson says Corbyn has done a deal with Nichola Sturgeon which would be a second referendum on “the union with Scotland”. Corbyn says there would be no second referendum “in the early years” of a Labour government.

Johnson says “the whole of the UK comes out entire and perfect”.

8:15pm Corbyn claims Johnson has had “a series of secret meetings”, and holds up heavily redacted documents relating to this. Johnson says it is “an absolute invention”.

He adds: “There are no circumstances whatever in which this government or any Conservative government would put the NHS on the table in any trade negotiation. Our NHS will never be for sale and I am amazed how often this comes up, The only reason is does is because mr corbyn is trying to conceal the void at the heart of his Brexit policy and is refusing to answer which side he would take.”

Corbyn says he has made his position “very clear” which prompts some laughter.

8:13pm Corbyn says Johnson has “indicated” that the NHS will be on the table in any trade deal, which will take seven years to agree.

Johnson says “absolutely” trade deal will be done by the end of 2020, pointing to the “great new deal that is oven ready, ready to go”.

Asked if he would mint a new coin for 2020, he just smirks. But he says there is a great deal of alignment between the EU and UK, which would enable a deal to be struck.

He continues to ask Corbyn to answer what he will campaign for personally. Corbyn continues to avoid the question.

8:12pm Johnson says they are seeking a mandate to govern, but Corbyn is seeking a mandate to get another deal which we don’t need because we’ve already got one. He asks what is the point of Brussels giving him a new deal.

8:10pm Johnson says we don’t know on which side Corbyn would campaign – would he campaign for leave or remain?

Corbyn doesn’t answer the question, but says the new deal Labour has negotiated will be put to the people alongside Remain. It is a genuine choice, and we will carry it out, he says.

8:07pm Asked if they can be sure that the UK will leave the EU when they say, given so many broken deadlines, Johnson says he can promise to leave on 31 January because of his “oven ready” deal, which is supported by all the 635 Conservative candidates.

Corbyn takes a little longer to explain Labour’s position – a new deal, followed by a second referendum. But while Johnson attacks Corbyn’s “dither and delay” approach, Corbyn says it is “nonsense” to suggest that Johnson’s deal can be completed by January, becausen he is proposing a trade deal with the US will take seven years to negotiate and an “incompatible” deal with the EU.

8:05pm Corbyn opened the debate by promising a Labour government “on your side”, while Johnson pledged to “end this national misery, break the deadlock and get Brexit done”.

7:58pm Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are about to go head-to-head in the first leaders’ TV debate.

The pair have already locked horns, with Johnson writing to his rival overnight to demand he answers questions he has so far “ducked” – including whether he would back Leave or Remain in a second referendum.

Main image: Getty

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