Election campaign day two: Power moves as Labour and Tories fight it out on energy

Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak clashed on energy policy and the exodus of MPs announcing their departure from Parliament grew as campaigning for the July 4 General Election entered its second day.

Here are the key moments:

– Power moves

Mr Sunak touted the fall in the energy price cap announced by Ofgem on Friday as evidence that his economic plans are working, though Labour said that even with a year-on-year decrease it will still be up £400 on 2021.

Meanwhile, Sir Keir plugged his plans for a publicly owned Great British Energy company, promising it would bring bills down for good and invest in “clean, British power”.

The Conservatives said they would maintain the Ofgem cap to keep bills down and make price comparison services easier to use. They also said they would “reach net zero without punishing families with extra costs”.

General Election campaign 2024
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaking to the media at the launch of Scottish Labour’s General Election campaign at City Facilities in Glasgow (Andrew Milligan/PA)

– PM’s spark faded by vapes Bill going up in smoke

Rishi Sunak said he was “disappointed” that his flagship legislation banning young people from ever being able to legally smoke would not pass before Parliament shuts down on Friday.

The shelving of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill, as well as his admission that deportation flights to Rwanda would not take off before polling day, leaves the Tory leader’s legacy increasingly threadbare.

Critics were quick to note that he has only one person to blame for cutting short the parliamentary timetable by calling a summer election.

– Islington North headache for Labour

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Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will stand in his long-held seat of Islington North (Victoria Jones/PA)

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced he is standing as an Independent candidate in the General Election, posing a threat to his old party’s prospects in his long-held Islington North seat.

The veteran MP was promptly booted out of the Labour Party. Sir Keir Starmer defended his decision to block his predecessor from standing for Labour after he failed to apologise for his handling of antisemitism within the party.

– PM’s visit to Titanic Quarter invites sinking ship comparisons

Mr Sunak’s trip to Belfast’s Titanic Quarter saw some unfortunate parallels get drawn with his party’s fortunes.

The Tory leader insisted he is “pumped up” and enjoying himself on campaign day two when a Belfast Live reporter asked him: “Are you captaining a sinking ship going into this election?”

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives at Birmingham Airport, while on the General Election campaign trail (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

– Picture of the day

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak talks to journalists on his plane as he travels from Northern Ireland to Birmingham
(Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak talks to journalists on his plane as he travels from Northern Ireland to Birmingham.

– Social media moment of the day

The Prime Minister encountered the dangers of online fact checkers when he shared a claim about Sir Keir on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Repeating his claim that Sir Keir would be ducking TV debates during the campaign, Mr Sunak posted imagery of the Labour leader with the caption: “Not coming to a debate near you.”

Beneath the post appeared a Community Note – a feature that allows users to add context to potentially misleading content – which read: “Starmer says he will agree to two debates. To say debates are not coming, is not correct.”

– MPs leave in their droves

As of Friday, nearly 80 Conservative MPs have stepped down ahead of the General Election, a post-war record.

(PA Graphics)

The total not seeking re-election on July 4 hit 76 on Friday, surpassing the previous record of 72 who quit prior to Sir Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide win for Labour.

It is not entirely the Conservatives though – grandees including Harriet Harman, Dame Margaret Beckett and Sir Ben Bradshaw have all said they will not fight their seats.

– PM’s tour finale derailed by pro-Palestine crowds

The final stop of Mr Sunak’s two-day tour of the UK was temporarily derailed when pro-Gaza protesters picketed the surrounding area.

A crowd of demonstrators carried placards and Palestinian flags outside the venue in Staffordshire, where the Prime Minister insisted on continuing with his visit despite the commotion.

– Quote of day

– What’s happening tomorrow?

Sir Keir will be taking his campaign to the Midlands while Mr Sunak, having completed his whistlestop tour of the four nations, will be in the North of England.

General Election campaign 2024
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey eats ice cream on the promenade in Eastbourne, East Sussex, while on the General Election campaign trail (Aaron Chown/PA)

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey will continue his trail in the so-called blue-wall, traditionally Conservative areas of southern England.