General election - latest: Nigel Farage doubles down on ‘disgraceful’ Ukraine invasion remarks

Nigel Farage has doubled down on his comments that the west “provoked” Vladimir Putin into ordering his full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The Reform UK leader, writing in a column piece for The Telegraph, wrote that he could not be “blamed for telling the truth about Putin’s war”.

“What I have been saying for the past 10 years is that the West has played into Putin’s hands, giving him the excuse to do what he wanted to do anyway,” he wrote.

The Downing Street hopeful declined, however, to offer any alternative to the current backing of Ukraine and the offer of Nato and European Union membership.

British figures from across the political spectrum criticised Mr Farage’s original comments. Prime minister Rishi Sunak said the Reform leader was “playing into Putin’s hands”, while Sir Keir Stamer said it is “really clear that Russia is the aggressor” in the war on Ukraine.

Ben Wallace, the former defence minister and well-known advocate for Ukraine, described Mr Farage as a “pub bore”.

Key Points

  • Mystery cabinet minister may be among Tories in betting scandal

  • Farage doubles down on comments that West ‘provoked’ Russia into invading Ukraine

  • Sunak: Farage’s ‘completely wrong’ Ukraine comments ‘play into Putin’s hands'

  • Home secretary slams Farage over Ukraine war claim

  • Main points from Farage interview

New poll suggests ‘truly historic’ election victory for Labour

20:03 , Tom Watling

A new poll has predicted that Labour are set to win a “truly historic” victory at the general election.

Pollster Savanta, in an exclusive poll for The Telegraph, showed Labour on 42 per cent (up two points), the Tories on 19 per cent and Reform on 16 per cent (up two).

It is the third poll in a row in which Reform has achieved its highest share in a Savanta poll since the party’s official creation in January 2021.

Emma Levin, Savanta’s associate director, said: “Our research suggests that we could be watching the collapse of the Conservative Party in real time. This is the lowest Conservative vote share ever in a Savanta poll, for the third poll in a row.

“Part of the reason for this is that Reform UK continues to make gains, at their highest level in a Savanta poll since January 2021.”

She added: “If Labour’s vote continues to hold up, while Reform UK and the Liberal Democrats eat into Conservative support, Keir Starmer’s party could be on for a truly historic election victory.”

A crisis is looming for councils – but you won’t hear about it in this election

20:00 , Matt Mathers

Nobody knows what will happen to council tax over the next parliament, least of all voters in this election, as Sean O’Grady explains.

Read Sean’s piece in full here:

A crisis is looming for councils – but the main parties are silent

X appears to block Reform UK ad account

19:00 , Tom Watling

X appears to have blocked the Reform UK ad account in what leader Nigel Farage has claimed shows the social media site is trying to “stop” their message.

Johnny Mercer urged to apologise for accusing Labour rival of lying about military service

19:00 , Matt Mathers

Johnny Mercer has been urged to apologise for accusing his Labourgeneral election rival of lying about his military service and withdraw the “deeply disrespectful” remarks.

The veterans minister, who is standing for re-election in Plymouth, Moor View, has been widely condemned for suggesting former Royal Marine Fred Thomas lied about leading men into combat to boost his political career.

Full report:

Mercer urged to apologise for accusing Labour rival of lying about military service

Watch: Sunak accuses Farage of ‘playing into Putin’s hands’ with Ukraine comments

18:00 , Matt Mathers

Sunak accuses Farage of ‘playing into Putin’s hands’ with Ukraine comments

Farage doubles down on comments that West ‘provoked’ Russia into invading Ukraine

17:15 , Tom Watling

Nigel Farage has doubled down on comments that the West “provoked" Russia into invading Ukraine, claiming that he shouldn’t be “blamed for telling the truth”.

In a comment piece forThe Telegraph, he claimed that he was not a “mouthpiece” for Russian leader Vladimir Putin, before repeating that he knew the war would happen back in 2014.

“There is no easy solution to the war,” he wrote. “But facing up to the truth about the causes and consequences must be a start.

“That is why I simply want to tell it as it is, and have done for a decade. Those slanderers who claim that telling the truth makes me a “mouthpiece for Putin” only reveal the weakness of their own case.”

He did not, however, offer any alternative policy for the war in Ukraine, despite claiming that he was being valiant in not conforming to popular backing of the invaded country.

Nigel Farage has been accused of being a Putin apologist (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA) (PA Media)
Nigel Farage has been accused of being a Putin apologist (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA) (PA Media)

JK Rowling accuses Labour of ‘abandoning’ women over transgender rights

17:00 , Matt Mathers

Author JK Rowling has criticised Labour for “abandoning” women concerned about transgender rights.

The controversial Harry Potter author said she would struggle to vote for Sir Keir Starmer, saying she had a “poor opinion” of his character.

Full report:

JK Rowling accuses Labour of ‘abandoning’ women over transgender rights

Tories believe Sunak ‘has given up’ after surprise auction lot admission at fundraiser

16:30 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak appeared to pull up the white flag of surrender at the party’s summer garden party fundraiser with what guests saw as an admission that he will not be prime minister after 4 July.

The event at Hurlingham Club, one of London’s most exclusive venues, on Thursday, was meant to be one of the party’s major fundraisers during the year, and came in the middle of an election campaign where the Tories have, according to insiders, run out of money.

Full report:

Tories believe Sunak ‘has given up’ after surprise auction admission at fundraiser

With his Putin comments, Nigel Farage has reminded us who he really is

16:00 , Matt Mathers

It’s strange that we spend so much time talking about Nigel Farage, writes Ryan Coogan.

The one-time leader of Ukip and full-time agent provocateur has stood for election as an MP seven times, and successfully managed to become an MP precisely zero times.

If you repeatedly reject somebody for a job and then they show up to work anyway, you don’t patiently listen to him rant about his ideas on how to run the company – you lock the doors and call security.

Read Ryan’s piece in full here:

With his Putin comments, Nigel Farage has reminded us who he really is

Recap: Everything we know about Tory election betting scandal

15:35 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak’s election campaign was dealt another blow on Thursday after it emerged that a second Conservative Party candidate was being investigated over a bet on the date of the general election.

Laura Saunders, the Tory candidate for Bristol North West, is understood to be under investigation by the Gambling Commission (GC) over claims she may have had inside knowledge about the prime minister’s decision to call a snap poll for 4 July.

Full report:

Everything we know about Tory election betting scandal

Starmer: Labour has no plans to rejoin the EU

14:38 , Matt Mathers

Labour has no plans to join rejoin the EU, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

The party will not be going back into the single market or customs union, he said.

“No. It isn’t our plan, it never has been, I’ve never said that as leader of the Labour Party and it is not in our manifesto,” he added.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said he wanted a better trade relationship with the EU (PA Wire)
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said he wanted a better trade relationship with the EU (PA Wire)

Johnny Mercer’s attacks on Labour rival sad and desperate, Sir Keir Starmer says

14:05 , Matt Mathers

Veterans minister Johnny Mercer’s attacks on his Labour electoral rival are “sad and desperate”, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

Mr Mercer, who is standing as the Conservative candidate for the Plymouth Moor View constituency, claimed his Labour opponent Fred Thomas was “bloating” his military service.

Full report:

Johnny Mercer’s attacks on Labour rival sad and desperate, Sir Keir Starmer says

Davey vows to crack down water companies’ sewage spills

13:50 , Matt Mathers

Water companies will not be allowed to “get away” with sewage dumping, Sir Ed Davey has warned as he fed chickens on a farm in East Sussex.

The Liberal Democrat leader was pecked by hungry farm birds he described as the “best photo chicken op ever” as he handed out grain and picked up the poultry at The Mac’s Farm in Ditchling.

Full report:

Sir Ed Davey warns water companies to invest as he feeds chickens on farm

Starmer: Taylor Swift was ‘absolutely fantastic’

13:35 , Matt Mathers

Sir Keir Starmer has described Taylor Swift as “absolutely fantastic” after he was pictured attending her Friday night concert at Wembley Stadium.

The Labour leader shared a photograph of himself and his wife Victoria at the stadium on social media site X, formerly Twitter.

“‘Swift’ campaign pitstop,” the image was captioned.

Asked about his opinion of the American pop star’s performance by reporters on the campaign trail in south London, Sir Keir replied: “She was fantastic. Absolutely fantastic.”

He added: “I know I will be asked what is my favourite song and I am not going to pretend I have got every album and know every song, although Change is the one for obvious reasons.”

Labour to target ‘weak’ Sunak over ‘dirty dozen’ Tory candidates

13:18 , Matt Mathers

Labour are set to launch a new social media campaign aimed at Rishi Sunak’s judgement by ramping up pressure for him to suspend 12 candidates caught up in different controversies including the betting scandal.

The new campaign will feature an unnamed cabinet minister who allegedly put a bet on the election date, and 11 named Tory candidates involved in a range of issues highlighted in the campaign.

Full report:

Labour to target ‘weak’ Sunak over ‘dirty dozen’ Tory candidates

How Sir Keir Starmer set a trap for Boris Johnson over Partygate scandal

13:10 , Matt Mathers

Sir Keir Starmer has set out for the first time how he laid a trap for Boris Johnson over Partygate, luring the former prime minister into the lies that saw him forced out of parliament.

The Labour leader, and Britain’s former chief prosecutor, said he knew Mr Johnson’s instinct under pressure was to lie and detailed how he “forensically” led the then prime minister into misleading the House of Commons.

Full report:

How Sir Keir Starmer set a trap for Boris Johnson over Partygate scandal

Starmer outlines Labour’s Windrush compensation plans

12:50 , Matt Mathers

Sir Keir Starmer has outlined his party’s plans to tackle delayed compensation for those affected by the Windrush scandal.

The Labour leader met with people who came to Britain during that time and their family members at the Lilian Baylis Technology school in Vauxhall.

He said: “Today is Windrush day so it’s a day about telling the history of Windrush, the great contribution that’s been made to this country and the change that brought about, but it also needs to be a reset day.

“And that’s why I was very pleased to be able to talk to people about this reset today because the compensation scheme which is there to deal with the real injustice is going too slowly. We’ve got too many examples of people who’ve died before they’ve got the compensation that they’re entitled to.

“The Windrush unit needs to be re-established in the Home Office and we will set up a permanent commissioner to be a champion and an advocate for the Windrush generation to make sure that these injustices are put right.”

Starmer says he’s ‘proud’ of Labour record on women’s rights after Rowling attack

12:40 , Matt Mathers

In response to comments from author and former Labour donor JK Rowling that the party had “abandoned” women, Sir Keir Starmer said he was proud of Labour’s track record on women’s rights.

He told reporters in Vauxhall: “I’m really proud of the long history of the Labour Party in making real progress on women’s rights, passing landmark legislation that has changed millions of lives.

“Now that battle is never over and we need to make further progress which we will hope to do if we earn the trust and confidence of the voters at the General Election.

“As we do so, I’m also determined that one of the changes that we will bring about if we win the election is a reset of politics, to make sure that as we make progress, we do it in a context that brings people together and all dialogue all debate is always done with respect for the views of everybody involved in those progress and in that discussion.”

Starmer: Farage’s Ukraine comments were ‘disgraceful'

12:20 , Matt Mathers

Nigel Farage’s comments on the invasion of Ukraine were “disgraceful” and anyone standing for parliament should make clear Russia is the aggressor, Sir Keir Starmer said.

Speaking to reporters during a campaign visit in London, the Labour leader said: “On the question of Farage, his comments were disgraceful.

“Anyone who is standing for Parliament ought to be really clear that Russia is the aggressor, Putin bears responsibility, and that we stand with Ukraine, as we have done from the beginning of this conflict, and Parliament has spoken with once voice on this since the beginning of the conflict.”

Sir Keir added: “I have been really clear that we stand with Ukraine, I have been really clear that we are unshakeable in our commitment to Nato because this is about defending Ukraine, but it is also about defending our hard-won democracy and freedom, and anybody standing for public office ought to understand that.”

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (right) speaking to the media at a school in Vauxhall, London, while on the general election campaign trail on 22 June (Aaron Chown/PA Wire)
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (right) speaking to the media at a school in Vauxhall, London, while on the general election campaign trail on 22 June (Aaron Chown/PA Wire)

Ed Davey: Putin to blame for war in Ukraine, no one else

12:01 , Matt Mathers

Vladimir Putin and Russia are to blame for the invasion of Ukraine, not the West, Sir Ed Davey said in response to Nigel Farage’s comments.

The Lib Dem leader told broadcasters on a visit to south east England: “It is Putin and Russia who are to blame for this, no one else.

“I strongly support the efforts that Britain has made to support Ukrainians. I wish we had done more actually, and I think British people would be shocked if we do anything else.”

He also said: “I don’t share any values with Nigel Farage.”

Sir Ed went on: “My message to the British people we need to support the Ukrainian people.

“This is a time of deep insecurity in our world. I’m worried when I look to later this year, if Donald Trump wins the presidential election, it’s possible that the United States will give less support to Ukraine and Britain and the rest of Europe will have to stand up and work together.”

Ed Davey visits a farm in East Sussex while out on the campaign trail on 22 June (Anahita Hossein-Pour/PA Wire)
Ed Davey visits a farm in East Sussex while out on the campaign trail on 22 June (Anahita Hossein-Pour/PA Wire)

All parties must commit to Windrush compensation - Davey

11:45 , Matt Mathers

All political parties must commit to proper compensation for victims of the Windrush scandal, Sir Ed Davey has said.

Asked about Labour’s promise to expedite compensation, the Lib Dem leader said: “I think that’s right. I think we have been disappointed that the Conservatives said they were going to compensate people affected by the Windrush scandal.

“I think the British public want them to, they’ve seen how people have been so badly treated.”

He added: “I think all parties should commit to proper compensation for people who’ve been victims of the Windrush scandal.”

Don’t let Labour ‘sleepwalk’ into No 10 - Sunak

11:30 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has said Labour should not be allowed to “sleepwalk into Number 10” amid claims colleagues are focusing on preventing a Labour “supermajority”.

When asked by broadcasters if he was “deluded” for thinking he could win the election, Mr Sunak said: “Of course I’m going to fight hard until the last day of this election because there is a choice for the country.

“Continue having your taxes cut with the Conservatives, providing you with that financial security, protecting your pension, getting down immigration. The alternative is handing a blank cheque to the Labour Party, and once you’ve handed them a blank cheque you won’t be able to get it back. And that means your taxes are going to go up by thousands of pounds.

“Don’t let Labour sleepwalk into Number 10, scrutinise their plans, ask what it means for you and your family.

“Can you really afford Labour’s thousands of pounds of tax rises? I want to keep cutting your taxes. That’s the choice that everyone has in front of them in a couple of weeks’ time.”

PM defends Home Office over Windrush scandal

11:05 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has defended the Home Office amid claims from Windrush campaigners that thousands of people still have not been granted citizenship.

The prime minister told broadcasters: “So many people suffered an injustice under successive governments over a long time. And since all this came to light a while ago, the Home Office has been working hard to rectify things.

“I think over 16,000 people now have been given the appropriate documentation that they deserve and tens of millions of pounds in compensation has been paid out and something like 200 different community and outreach events have also been organised.

“But of course the Home Office is always reflecting, taking on feedback and seeing how it can improve and make sure that we right the wrongs of the past.”

Sunak looks down as he meets with nighttime economy representatives in central London on Saturday (AP)
Sunak looks down as he meets with nighttime economy representatives in central London on Saturday (AP)

I love the UK ‘deeply’, says Sunak after Farage’s culture comments

10:52 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has said he loves the UK “deeply” after being accused of not understanding “our culture” by Nigel Farage.

He told broadcasters: “I love this country deeply for what it has done for my family.

“My grandparents emigrated here with very little and two generations later I have the enormous privilege of being our prime minister.

“And that’s why I will work my hardest to repay this country for everything that it has done for my family.”

Farage’s Ukraine comments ‘play into Putin’s hands’, Sunak says

10:36 , Matt Mathers

Rishi Sunak has said Nigel Farage was “completely wrong” to say the West “provoked” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The prime minister told reporters: “What he said was completely wrong and only plays into (Vladimir) Putin’s hands.

“This is a man who deployed nerve agents on the streets of Britain, who’s doing deals with countries like North Korea. And this kind of appeasement is dangerous for Britain’s security, the security of our allies that rely on us and only emboldens Putin further.”

 (AP)
(AP)

ICYMI: Tories ‘held in contempt by the electorate’ as pressure mounts on Rishi Sunak over betting scandal

10:05 , Matt Mathers

Sir Keir Starmer has accused Rishi Sunak of “total lack of leadership” after the prime minister failed to deny cabinet ministers are among senior Tories who placed bets on the election date.

As pressure mounted over the betting scandal, Labour also condemned Mr Sunak’s decision not to suspend two candidates who are under investigation by the Gambling Commission.

Full report:

Tories ‘held in contempt’ by voters as pressure mounts over betting scandal

Labour should join the Tories in ignoring the polls

09:45 , Matt Mathers

With less than two weeks until election day, Keir Starmer’s high command is so concerned about the effect their 20-point lead in opinion polls might have on the result, they are considering banning them during the final stretch of future campaigns, says Andrew Grice.

Read Andrew’s piece in full here:

Labour should join the Tories in ignoring the polls

Starmer: I would not go private even if my children were ill

09:22 , Matt Mathers

Sir Keir Starmer has said he would not use private health care even if his children were ill as he denied being “ideological” about the health service.

The Labour leader said he would not be willing to “jump the queue” as he praised the NHS as “absolutely the best” for treating acute health problems.

“On acute care, people said, ‘well, what if your child was really ill?’,” he said. “On acute care, the NHS is absolutely the best, so much so that private hospitals refer into the NHS. So if we had an acute case, I’d want to be treated by the NHS.”

When pressed on the issue, he added: “No I wouldn’t. I’m not going to say to the country, ‘I’m going to drive down your waiting lists but I’m going to pay to sort of accelerate myself to the front of the queue’”.

The Labour leader went on to add that t if he became prime minister his cabinet would be free to go private if they wished, adding: “I’m not ideological about it.”

Keir Starmer (PA Wire)
Keir Starmer (PA Wire)

Starmer will reverse Brexit, Badenoch claims

09:14 , Matt Mathers

Sir Keir Starmer will reverse Brexit if Labour wins the general election, Kemi Badenoch has claimed.

The former business secretary said leaving the EU was a “10 to 20 year project” as she suggested the UK had not yet seen the benefits of leaving the bloc.

“Making sure everyone is focused on getting those benefits is absolutely critical. I think that’s one area where I’ve tried to do as much as possible, but we need more of that strategy,” she told The Daily Telegraph.

“That’s something that’s going to disappear if Labour come in; they will take us backwards. They will take us back to square one. They’re just going to copy what the EU does.”

Labour has said it will not rejoin the EU or customs union and there are no plans in the party’s manifesto to do so.

Kemi Badenoch (PA Wire)
Kemi Badenoch (PA Wire)

Farage is a ‘pub bore’ who doesn’t understand ‘real world’ of politics

08:38 , Matt Mathers

Nigel Farage is akin to a “pub bore” who does not understand the “real world” of politics, Conservative former defence secretary Ben Wallace said.

Mr Wallace, who is not standing in the general election, was asked about Mr Farage’s admiration for Vladimir Putin and his suggestion the west provoked the Russian leader’s invasion of Ukraine.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think Nigel Farage is a bit like that pub bore we have all met at the end of the bar who often says if ‘I was running the country’ and presents very simplistic answers to actually I am afraid in the 21st century complex problems.

“It is not that easy to govern a country but also to find international solutions to problems.”

Mr Wallace added: “If he became prime minister tomorrow morning, what is his solution to dealing with a President Putin that he alleges he admires? A man who remember was involved in the murder of a British citizen Dawn Sturgess with deployment of nerve agent in Salisbury.

“Is his answer to that we provoked him? He is going to have to deal with the real world.”

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

Farage is wrong on Russia - Wallace

08:22 , Matt Mathers

Nigel Farage is wrong to suggest that the West provoked Putin into invading Ukraine, the former defence secretary has said.

Ben Wallace told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme that the Refom leader had been “consistently wrong” on the subject.

Mr Wallace pointed to a 7,000 word essay written by Putin in 2021 titled the “historical unity of Russia and Ukraine” which mentioned Nato in “only one paragraph.”

The piece talked about ethnic nationalism and the right of Russia to “effectively expand itself”, Mr Wallace added.

His comments came after Mr Farage last night doubled down on his remarks about Ukraine, saying he has been “consistent and honest” about the war.

JK Rowling accuses Labour of ‘abandoning’ women over transgender rights

08:05 , Matt Mathers

Author JK Rowling has criticised Labour for “abandoning” women concerned about transgender rights.

The controversial Harry Potter author said she would struggle to vote for Sir Keir Starmer, saying she had a “poor opinion” of his character.

Full report:

JK Rowling accuses Labour of ‘abandoning’ women over transgender rights

Johnny Mercer urged to apologise for accusing Labour rival of lying about military service

07:55 , Matt Mathers

Johnny Mercer has been urged to apologise for accusing his Labour general election rival of lying about his military service and withdraw the “deeply disrespectful” remarks.

The veterans minister, who is standing for re-election in Plymouth, Moor View, has been widely condemned for suggesting former Royal Marine Fred Thomas lied about leading men into combat to boost his political career.

Full report:

Mercer urged to apologise for accusing Labour rival of lying about military service

What’s happening on the campaign trail trail - continued

07:45 , Matt Mathers

SNP leader John Swinney will visit the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, where he will put the spotlight on his party’s drive for “sustainable funding for farming” with financial backing rising “to at least pre-Brexit levels”.

The party has also called for a rural visa pilot scheme to “mitigate against the severe labour shortages” which it attributes to Brexit, and a veterinary agreement with the European Union.

“We will always seek to protect Scotland from the damage of decisions taken by Westminster,” Mr Swinney said.

In southern England, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey will also visit a farm on the campaign trail in a week where the Conservatives have sought support from rural communities – and some sheep, perhaps with less success.

In southern England, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey will also visit a farm on the campaign trail in a week where the Conservatives have sought support from rural communities – and some sheep, perhaps with less success.

John Swinney (PA Wire)
John Swinney (PA Wire)
Ed Davey (PA Wire)
Ed Davey (PA Wire)

Outrage continues over ‘Putin apologist' Farage’s ‘disgraceful’ Russia comments

07:35 , Matt Mathers

Nigel Farage is a “Putin apologist,” Labour’s shadow defence secretary said after the Reform leader claimed the West provoked Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Mr Farage told the BBC in an interview broadcast last night that the “ever-eastward expansion” of Nato and the EU gave the Russian president an excuse to start the war.

John Healy said: “These are disgraceful comments, which reveal the true face of Nigel Farage: a Putin apologist who should never be trusted with our nation’s security.

“Up until now, there has been a united front amongst Britain’s political leaders in supporting the people of Ukraine against the unprovoked and unjustifiable assault they have suffered at the hands of Vladimir Putin.

“Nigel Farage has put himself outside that united position, and shown that he would rather lick Vladimir Putin’s boot than stand up for the people of Ukraine. That makes him unfit for any political office in our country, let alone leading a serious party in Parliament.”

What else to expect on the campaign trail today

07:20 , Matt Mathers

Labour’s shadow environment secretary Steve Reed will visit a county on the south coast to talk about sewage.

His party has pledged to give the water regulator powers to block the payment of any bonuses to polluting water bosses until they have “cleaned up their filth” and go further – to “make water bosses who continue to oversee lawbreaking face criminal charges”.

Water companies would also be unable to mark their own homework, with new independent water monitoring, plus “severe and automatic fines that companies can’t afford to ignore for illegal sewage discharges”.

Mr Reed claimed the Conservatives have “just folded their arms and looked the other way while water companies pumped a tidal wave of raw sewage into our rivers, lakes and seas putting the nation’s health at risk”.

And Reform UK campaigning continues on the Tendring Peninsula in Essex, as Nigel Farage hosts a bumper set of campaign days in the Clacton constituency he is contesting – against the Liberal Democrats’ Matthew Bensilum, Climate Party’s Craig Jamieson, independent Tony Mack, the Green Party’s Natasha Osben, Labour’s Jovan Owusu-Nepaul, the Heritage Party’s Tasos Papanastasiou, UKIP’s Andrew Pemberton and Conservative incumbent Giles Watling.

Steve Reed (Getty Images)
Steve Reed (Getty Images)

What to expect on the General Election campaign trail on Saturday

07:09 , Matt Mathers

Here is your guide to the main developments in the general election campaign on Saturday:

In advance of Saturday night, prime minister Rishi Sunak will trail his party’s plan for pubs, clubs and festivals.

The Conservative Party has also timed its announcement ahead of the Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, as fans pack their bags before the gates open on Wednesday.

Ministers would look into ways to “crack down” on councils imposing “disproportionate conditions” on licences, according to party figures.

Business minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “We’ll continue to back our night-time economy – Labour would cripple it further with higher taxes and more burdensome regulation.”

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

The Tory betting scandal - what is it?

05:50 , Alex Ross

The Tory party has been dogged by a betting row with Rishi Sunak forced to address it while launching the party’s Welsh manifesto on Friday.

But what is it?

It started when Craig Williams, the party’s candidate in Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr and Mr Sunak’s parliamentary aide, admitted to having “a flutter” on the date of the election after it was disclosed he was under investigation by the Gambling Commission.

It has since been reported that another candidate, Laura Saunders, and her husband, Tory director of campaigning Tony Lee, were also facing a Gambling Commission investigation, while a member of Mr Sunak’s close protection team has been arrested and removed from operational duties over similar allegations.

The matter was referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) which said, at this stage, the Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards should investigate.

Ms Saunders, the Conservative candidate for Bristol North West, said she “will be co-operating with the Gambling Commission” investigation, while Mr Lee took a leave of absence from his role with the party on Wednesday, just 15 days before the polls open.

Laura Saunders and Tony Lee pictured together (Supplied)
Laura Saunders and Tony Lee pictured together (Supplied)

Another challenging day for Rishi Sunak

04:50 , Alex Ross

Rishi Sunak faced further questions on Friday on gambling by Conservative candidates, as he sought to move on from the scandal, telling voters not to “sleepwalk to July 4”.

Speaking at the launch of the Tories’ Welsh manifesto, the Prime Minister acknowledged voters’ “frustrations”, but suggested the general election is too important to be used to send the party a message.

The questions he faced after his speech continued to focus on allegations that a string of people with links to the Conservative Party or Number 10 bet on the timing of the contest before he announced it.

Mr Sunak refused to be drawn on whether he is aware of other Conservative candidates or officials who placed bets on the date of the election, saying there are “multiple investigations” under way that are “independent” and “confidential”.

Rishi Sunak speaks to journalists on a campaign bus as he travelled to Wales on Friday (Getty Images)
Rishi Sunak speaks to journalists on a campaign bus as he travelled to Wales on Friday (Getty Images)

Labour responds to Tory plans to boost night-time economy

03:50 , Alex Ross

The Conservative party says it would look into ways to “crack down” on councils imposing “disproportionate conditions” and restrictions on licences as part of a bid to boost the UK night-time economy.

But Labour criticised the scale of ambition behind the announcement and said it was time to call “last orders” on the Conservatives.

A party spokesperson said: “After 14 years in power, Rishi Sunak’s offer to voters is ‘a review’.

“On the Tories’ watch, “night fever” is dead. Nightclubs, venues and music festivals have shut in their droves, and thousands of pub landlords have pulled their last pint.

“The Prime Minister simply has no answers to the problems facing the country.”

Tories say they will help the night-time economy if party wins general election (PA Archive)
Tories say they will help the night-time economy if party wins general election (PA Archive)

Tories also promise to strengthen planning enforcement

02:50 , Alex Ross

As well as announcing support fo the night-time economy, the Tory party has promised to strengthen enforcement of the “agent of change” principle in the planning system, whereby developers take responsibility for problems that might arise from building near a music venue, for example by soundproofing new properties.

The party said it would “work with” local government and the private sector to make licensing hours data openly accessible so that people can find venues that are open late in their area.

The offering will be touted by the Conservatives on Saturday as the Prime Minister attempts to move on from the row over allegations of gambling by Conservative candidates.

More on the Tory’s plan to boost night-time economy

01:50 , Alex Ross

On announcing the Tory party would provide greater support for the night-time economy, Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “The night-time economy is a vibrant sector that’s vital to our economy and our society as a whole.

“We’ve always supported our night-time economy, with business rates reliefs, economic support during the pandemic – but wherever Labour have been responsible for the sector, it’s suffered.

“We’ll continue to back our night-time economy – Labour would cripple it further with higher taxes and more burdensome regulation.”

Tory candidates should face consequences for backing Brexit - John Swinney

Saturday 22 June 2024 00:50 , Alex Ross

Scotland’s First Minister has said Conservative candidates should face the “consequences” of backing Brexit at the last election.

John Swinney has criticised Tories Andrew Bowie and Douglas Ross, who are standing to be elected to Westminster again on 4 July.

He said their actions of backing former prime minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposals at the 2019 vote was a “betrayal” to Scotland.

He was speaking ahead of a campaign visit to the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, at which the SNP will launch its rural manifesto.

He said: “During the last Westminster election, the Tories in rural Scotland shamefully sold Boris Johnson’s Brexit, making promise after promise, and every single one of them has now been broken.

SNP leader John Swinney says the Tories ‘shamefully’ sold Boris Johnson’s Brexit (PA Wire)
SNP leader John Swinney says the Tories ‘shamefully’ sold Boris Johnson’s Brexit (PA Wire)

Tories to focus on night-time economy ‘in first 100 days of government’

Friday 21 June 2024 23:50 , Alex Ross

Slashing red tape for Britain’s pubs, restaurants and music venues would be the focus of a review launched within the first 100 days of a Tory government, the party has said.

Ministers would look into ways to “crack down” on councils imposing “disproportionate conditions” and restrictions on licences as part of a bid to boost the UK night-time economy, the Conservatives say.

It comes as Rishi Sunak seeks to shift the focus of the campaign away from the betting scandal that has thrown his party into fresh turmoil in recent days.

The Tories used the announcement to attack Labour’s record on nightlife in London and Wales, as polls continue to put the opposition party on course for a historic victory on July 4.

Business minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “The night-time economy is a vibrant sector that’s vital to our economy and our society as a whole.”

Business minister Kevin Hollinrake says a Tory government would back the country’s night-time economy (PA Wire)
Business minister Kevin Hollinrake says a Tory government would back the country’s night-time economy (PA Wire)

The NHS

Friday 21 June 2024 22:50 , Alex Ross

Nick Robinson asked Mr Farage about the French healthcare system, where patients face a 25-euro charge to see their GP and can get most or all of the cost reimbursed through their insurance.

“Well, it costs you nothing to go to the doctor, right, because you get it back.

“And the reason they do that – and by the way, British GPs have this problem – is people book appointments and don’t turn up, so actually, thinking about it, it makes sense.”

Farage on dropped Reform UK candidates

Friday 21 June 2024 21:50 , Alex Ross

When asked about the “really extreme and unpleasant views” expressed by some Reform UK candidates, Mr Farage said: “(We have) had an awful lot of candidates being stitched up in the most extraordinary way with quotes being taken out of context.”

North West Essex candidate Grant StClair-Armstrong resigned from the party after it emerged he previously called on voters online to elect the BNP.

Reform UK also dropped Hugo Miller, standing in Horsham, after he posted photos on social media of a van in Miami bearing a racial slur, which he described as “funny”.

Mr Farage claimed before he got involved “there was no national party structure”.

He said: “No, they’re not there because of me. No, no, no.”

The Reform UK leader, who served as the party’s honorary president between 2021 and June this year and has been listed as one of its directors on Companies House since 2019, added: “These candidates were recruited before I said I was going to play an active role in the party and frankly, they were so desperate for people to stand that people stood and then we employed a big vetting company that didn’t do the job.”

North West Essex candidate Grant StClair-Armstrong resigned from the party (Reform Party)
North West Essex candidate Grant StClair-Armstrong resigned from the party (Reform Party)

Johnny Mercer urged to apologise

Friday 21 June 2024 20:47 , Alex Ross

Away from tonight’s Panorama with Nigel Farage, Johnny Mercer has been urged to apologise for accusing his Labourgeneral election rival of lying about his military service and withdraw the “deeply disrespectful” remarks.

The veterans minister, who is standing for re-election in Plymouth, Moor View, has been widely condemned for suggesting former Royal Marine Fred Thomas lied about leading men into combat to boost his political career.

Mr Thomas has said he is unable to discuss large parts of his military service and cited a certificate of valediction signed by a Special Forces Support Group commanding officer.

Mercer urged to apologise for accusing Labour rival of lying about military service

Home Secretary slams Farage over Ukraine war claim

Friday 21 June 2024 20:10 , Alex Ross

During his interview with Nick Robinson, Nigel Farage claimed the West provoked the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

He said: “It was obvious to me that the ever-eastward expansion of Nato and the European Union was giving this man a reason to his Russian people to say ‘they’re coming for us again’ and to go to war.”

The comments have been met by outrage by Home Secretary James Cleverly.

Writing on X, he said: “Just Farage echoing Putin’s vile justification for the brutal invasion of Ukraine.”

Main points from Farage interview

Friday 21 June 2024 20:07 , Alex Ross

Mr Farage made the following points during the half-hour interview from Nick Robinson:

  • Repeated his accusation that Rishi Sunak “doesn’t understand our culture”

  • Claimed western governments “provoked” Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022

  • “It makes sense” for patients to pay their GP and claim the money back afterwards

  • Said Brexit was not a failure, but the Tories had failed to deliver promise in immigration

  • Blamed vetting company for not doing its job on checking candidates

  • Described himself as a “fighter” and “warrior”

The Reform UK leader making his points during the 30-minute interview with Nick Robinson (PA Media)
The Reform UK leader making his points during the 30-minute interview with Nick Robinson (PA Media)

‘“I’m a fighter, I’m a warrior’ - Farage

Friday 21 June 2024 19:31 , Alex Ross

“I’m a fighter, I’m a warrior, I’m a campaigner. I stand up against big institutions when they behave badly, whether they’re banks or out of touch bureaucracies based in Brussels, and very often, I win,” says Nigel Farage as he’s asked if he is the man to restor trust in British politics.

Nick Robinson then curtains the show. He next interviews Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay.

Vetting company didn’t do the job - Farage

Friday 21 June 2024 19:29 , Alex Ross

Nick Robinson now asks Nigel Farage about some of the Reform UK candidates.

He starts by saying how a candidate that claims Africans have a low IQ rally to his cause.

“We’ve also had an awful lot of candidates being stitched up in the most extraordinary way with quotes being taken out of context,” Mr Farage replies.

He adds that a “big vetting company” didn’t do its job on checking candidates.

‘No, no, no, no, no’ - Farage

Friday 21 June 2024 19:26 , Alex Ross

Farage denies he said climate change was a hype.

He says the country spends “too much time hyperventilating’ over climate change, but says he is not arguing with the science.

He adds: Right, listen, we’ve deindustrialized.

“Our steelworks close, where do they go? India. The same steel gets produced in India under lower environmental standards and then shipped back to us. Globally by closing those steel plants, the amount of CO2 put into the air has gone up. All we’ve done is to export the emissions.”

‘All we’ve done is to export the emissions’ - Farage (PA Media)
‘All we’ve done is to export the emissions’ - Farage (PA Media)