Election campaign day five: Bank Holiday bother for Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak faced more internal ructions, while Sir Keir Starmer pledged to restore trust in politics on day five of the General Election campaign.

Here are the key moments:

Trouble at the top

The Prime Minister had a awkward end to Bank Holiday Monday after suspending one of his own MPs for backing a Reform candidate rather than a Tory.

He had earlier faced anger and confusion from other Tory MPs over his contentious national service plan.

Lucy Allan is standing down in Telford and publicly gave her support to Reform’s Alan Adams rather than Conservative Hannah Campbell.

“A vote for Reform is a vote for Keir Starmer,” a Tory spokesman said.

Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker publicly criticised the way the national service policy had been “sprung” on Tory candidates.

And Foreign Office minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan did not rule out the possibility of parents facing prosecution if their children refused to take part in the scheme.

But Tory deputy chairman James Daly said Ms Trevelyan “certainly doesn’t have responsibility for this area” and asked: “Why would you think that a parent of an 18-year-old would go to jail because of the actions of an 18-year-old?”

Trust me I’m a leader

Keir Starmer
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer delivers a speech to supporters, members and local people during his visit to Lancing in West Sussex (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Sir Keir Starmer ventured onto enemy territory for his first major speech of the campaign in Tory-held Lancing in West Sussex, as he promised to stand up for working people.

The Labour leader referenced his childhood in Surrey and his family’s debt fears as he insisted he could be trusted to deliver economic stability and protect national security.

Sir Keir acknowledged that despite Labour’s commanding opinion poll lead, many voters were not fully persuaded about his party.

“I know there are countless people who haven’t decided how they’ll vote in this election. They’re fed-up with the failure, chaos and division of the Tories, but they still have questions about us: has Labour changed enough? Do I trust them with my money, our borders, our security?

“My answer is yes, you can, because I have changed this party, permanently.”

Picture of the day

Rishi Sunak
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak shows his skills during a visit to Chesham United Football Club (Aaron Chown/PA)

Rishi Sunak tried his hand at dribbling and took part in drills at Chesham United football ground alongside young players on a Monday afternoon campaign visit.

Mr Sunak attempted dribbling practice alongside four different age groups: under-eights, under-nines, under-11s and under-16s.

“Did we win?” he asked the group of players he had joined after the whistle blew. “No,” one of them replied.

Number of the day

No country for old men?

Joe Biden
The jibe mirrors Donald Trump’s favourite insult for US President Joe Biden (Niall Carson/PA)

Rishi Sunak distanced himself from Tory attacks on Sir Keir Starmer over his age.

The 44-year-old Prime Minister said “the substance is what matters” following the comments about his 61-year-old rival.

Some Tories had dubbed the Labour leader “sleepy” and claimed he does not have the “stamina” to campaign.

The jibe mirrors Donald Trump’s favourite insult for President Biden, who he regularly mocks as “sleepy Joe”.

Sir Keir dismissed the claims as “desperate”.

Quote of the day

Top dogs now underdogs

General Election campaign 2024
SNP leader John Swinney during a visit to Novellis ice cream parlour

In Scotland, new SNP leader John Swinney had to concede his party has a lot of ground to make up on Labour.

Polls have shown the party, which for years has been the dominant force in Scottish politics, is now trailing behind Labour in the run-up to the July 4 voting day.

As he campaigned in Dumfries, Mr Swinney was asked if his party was now fighting this election as the “underdog”. The Scottish First Minister said: “That’s an interesting way to put it. Actually, it is quite a good way to fight an election campaign.”

They also face a challenge from the Lib Dems, whose leader Sir Ed Davey was bullish as he launched his party’s campaign in Scotland.

Speaking in Fife, Sir Ed said: “I believe we can make gains here in Scotland just as we’re going to make gains against the Conservatives in England.”

The top parties have launched TikTok profiles (Yui Mok/PA)

Tik Tok for top parties?

During the 2019 election, social media app TikTok was in its infancy, but in 2024 the top two parties have realised it is the place to be.

The Chinese app was banned from Government phones in March 2023 because of data security concerns but both parties have launched profiles in recent days.

Despite the Prime Minister announcing the General Election last Wednesday, Labour launched on TikTok three days before the Conservatives.

Although it is early days – the Conservatives had shared just four TikToks by Monday afternoon to Labour’s 25 – the approach by Sir Keir Starmer’s party has been more successful.

Labour has more than 43,000 TikTok followers to the Conservatives’ 13,000, and they have received over 10 times more likes on the platform – with more than 930,000 to 87,000 for the Tories.

Stepping down

The latest MPs to announce they are stepping down at the next election were Labour’s Barbara Keeley and John Spellar.

Ms Keeley, 72, who has represented Worsley and Eccles South since 2005, has had health issues and said the demands of the campaign made her realise that it was time to step aside.

And Mr Spellar, an MP since 1992 who represents Warley in the West Midlands, said he looked forward “to continuing to play an active role in the Labour movement”.

What’s happening tomorrow?

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves will make her first major election speech promising to be both pro-business and pro-worker. She will join Sir Keir Starmer in the Midlands.

The Tory battlebus will be out and about – no details yet.

Nigel Farage, who has declined to stand as an MP for his Reform party, will be campaigning on the south coast where the subject of small boat migrant crossings are sure to feature heavily.