Election campaign day 37: Farage faces racism row over canvasser’s PM slur

Rishi Sunak rebuked racist language used about him by a Reform UK activist and Nigel Farage faced questions about the state of his party as General Election campaigning enters its final week.

– Racism row rumbles on

The Prime Minister said he was “hurt” and “angry” after a canvasser for Mr Farage’s party called him a derogatory term in footage recorded by an undercover Channel 4 reporter.

The revelations have prompted wider questions about remarks made by some Reform figures, which the party leader was confronted with during a pre-arranged appearance on ITV’s Loose Women.

Mr Farage claimed that the recording of Andrew Parker, an activist who called Mr Sunak a “f****** P***” and said small boat migrants should be used as “target practice”, was a “complete and total set-up.”

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Rishi Sunak buys fish and chips for the media at the Sea Breeze fish and chips shop in Redcar, while on the campaign trail (Danny Lawson/PA)

He said other canvassers for the party who were filmed making homophobic remarks had been “drunken and vulgar”, and had been kicked out of the party.

Mr Parker, an actor, has said he is sorry and regrets using the language, but insists he was “goaded on” by the reporter filming him.

Channel 4 News said it stands by “our rigorous and duly impartial journalism which speaks for itself”.

It rejected suggestions that Mr Parker, who used his real name as a Reform volunteer and told the PA news agency that he had not informed the party of his acting career, had been a paid actor.

– It’s the economy, stupid

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan and Sky News anchor Matt Barbet sparred over the issue of inflation, with both appearing to cast doubt on the other’s understanding of the economy.

Ms Keegan, when asked about a jump in inflation under the Government, replied: “Well, you can thank Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine for that.”

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Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury in London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Told some people would thank former prime minister Liz Truss for that, Ms Keegan replied: “No, well, that’s not true.

“If you look all over the world, Liz Truss was nothing to do with other countries where the inflation rate went up in exactly the same way. So, you have to be honest and you have to understand economics as well.”

Mr Barbet countered: “If you understood economics, you’d know that it’s actually got a lot to do with the Bank of England, which is independent of the Government, in the way they manage interest rates. That’s the real reason why inflation has come down if you’re economically literate.”

– Taxing times

Labour has denied it plans to stop people accessing a lump sum of their pension pot tax-free after Sir Keir Starmer suggested the entitlement would end.

The party indicated leader Sir Keir had accidentally confused different tax measures as it sought to clarify comments he made during a BBC Radio 5 Live phone-in with Nicky Campbell.

Asked if he planned to remove the option of people being able to withdraw 25% of their pension pot as a tax-free lump sum, Sir Keir replied: “It runs out in a number of years and we’re not going to renew it.”

A Labour spokesperson said in response: “The ability to withdraw 25% of your pension as a tax-free lump sum is a permanent feature of the tax system and Labour are not planning to change this.

“Keir was referring to temporary tax breaks in the system that are due to expire and which the public finances assume will not continue, like increasing the stamp duty threshold for first-time buyers from £300,000 to £425,000.”

– Guardian angels

Figures released by the Electoral Commission showed Labour has continued to rake in campaign donations while the Conservatives are still struggle to raise funds.

Sir Antony Gormley, the sculptor behind the Angel of the North, donated art worth £500,000 to boost the party’s coffers, while Unison gave £1.49 million along with £500,000 from venture capitalist Stuart Roden, £300,000 form the trade union Usdaw, and £250,000 from Danny Luhde-Thompson.

Labour raised £3.3 million in the third week of the campaign – far outstripping the £375,000 raised by the Conservatives in the same period.

– Picture of the day

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Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to a Hindu temple in London, while on the General Election campaign trail (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Labour leader Sir Keir performed a ritual at the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury in London.

– Social media moment of the day

Mr Sunak was featured in an attack ad by Labour on X, showing the PM smiling on what appears to be a sign outside a house, with the words: “Rishi’s Mega Mortgages. Your mortgage up £4,800. You should be grateful” surrounding him.

Some X users suggested the £4,800 claim was wrong and said “interest rates are set by the Bank of England, not the government”, with others creating their own versions of the sign – this time, with Sir Keir Starmer as the main figure.

– What’s happening tomorrow?

Both the Tories and Sir Keir and his deputy, Angela Rayner, will be out campaigning in the south of England.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey will take the party’s campaign bus, dubbed Yellow Hammer 1, on tour in the north of the UK.

SNP leader John Swinney will also be out on the stump as campaigning ratchets up a notch across the board in the final run-up to polling day.