General election 2024 live: Rishi Sunak under fire for apologising that D-Day events 'ran over' to ITV

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NationalWorld’s reporters from across the UK will bring you the latest news from the general election 2024 campaign trail.

Follow our live blog below for all the updates and analysis ahead of polling day on 4 July.

LIVE: general election 2024

Welcome to NationalWorld's general election 2024 live blog

Rishi Sunak caught most of Westminster on the hop yesterday by calling a general election on 4 July. That means we’ve got a six-week campaign to look forward to before polling day, when the UK will decide who will be its next Prime Minister. NationalWorld’s reporters across the country will bring you all the twists and turns on our live blog. Should Sunak have called an election? Let me know [email protected].

Farage is not standing

Reform UK, Richard Tice’s right-wing anti-immigration party, is holding a press conference today in Westminster, which I will be attending. There has been some speculation that it could have been to announce that the party’s honorary president Nigel Farage will be standing as a candidate. However, the Brexiteer has ruled this out but said he will “do my bit to help in the campaign”.

Richard Tice, left, with Nigel Farage during the Hartlepool by-election in 2019. Credit: GettyRichard Tice, left, with Nigel Farage during the Hartlepool by-election in 2019. Credit: Getty
Richard Tice, left, with Nigel Farage during the Hartlepool by-election in 2019. Credit: Getty | Getty Images

Starmer kicks off Labour's election campaign in Gillingham

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has kicked off his party’s election campaign with a speech at Gillingham Football Club.

Kicking off his speech, the opposition leader joked: “It is great to be here in Gillingham. Last time under a Labour government, Gillingham was in the same league as Manchester City, so that is a good place to start.”

He then went onto describe the general election as one with the power of “change”.

Starmer said: “This election is about a choice: Two different countries, two different futures. Decline and chaos continuing under the Tories, or rebuilding our country under Labour.

“The power of the vote is with you. If you want change, you have to vote for it. And if you vote Labour, it is a vote to stop the chaos, it is a vote to turn the page and it is a vote to rebuild our country together.”

Rwanda flights won't take off before election - Sunak

Rishi Sunak has confirmed that his long-awaited and controversial flights carrying asylum to Rwanda will not take off before the general election.

The Prime Minister’s key policy plan to get jets off of the ground by July has now been halted due to his decision to call an election for July 4.

It comes amid rumours that minister would be working to the wire to get the flight in the air as an example to voters on the work being done to ‘stop the boats’, a key feature of Sunak’s pledges when taking up the role of PM.

However, he has now confirmed that the flights will go ahead “if I’m re-elected” in the July election and used the possibility as an incentive for those who agree with the policy to vote Conservative on polling day.

He told BBC Radio 4: "If you think stopping the boats is important, and you think like I do that you need a deterrent to do that [...] then I'm the only one that's going to deliver that."

Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, responding to the Prime Minister saying that no flights to Rwanda will happen before July, said: “The Prime Minister’s own words this morning show this whole Rwanda scheme has been a con from start to finish.

 “With all the hundreds of millions they have spent, it would be extraordinary if 'symbolic flights' didn't take off in early July, as the Tories planned. But Rishi Sunak's words confirm what we've known all along - he doesn't believe this plan will work and that's why he called the election now in the desperate hope that he won’t be found out.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said deportation flights of asylum seekers to Rwanda will begin in '10 to 12 weeks', as the plan entered its final stage in Parliament. Picture: AFP via Getty ImagesPrime Minister Rishi Sunak said deportation flights of asylum seekers to Rwanda will begin in '10 to 12 weeks', as the plan entered its final stage in Parliament. Picture: AFP via Getty Images
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said deportation flights of asylum seekers to Rwanda will begin in '10 to 12 weeks', as the plan entered its final stage in Parliament. Picture: AFP via Getty Images

Farage to help Reform UK 'significantly'

At the launch of Reform UK’s general election launch, party leader Richard Tice revealed that 630 candidates will be standing in the upcoming ballot.

The right-wing party will stand in seats across the country, but missed the registration deadline in Northern Ireland.

It comes after Nigel Farage ruled out standing for the party in the general election for Reform UK, for which is is honorary president. But Tice said in his launch speech that he will be “helping out significantly” as Reform UK looks to lure away traditional Tory voters.

Other speakers at the launch of Reform UK’s campaign included Ben Habib and Anne Widdecombe, but Lee Anderson, the party’s only sitting MP, notably skipped out on the event.

Opting for a staunchly anti-immigration stance, the party will hope to attract voters of the opinion that Sunak hasn’t gone far enough to “stop the boats”.

NationalWorld’s Political Editor Ralph Blackburn was at the launch of the campaign, where he spotted that the party might be hoping to get immigration levels back to... 1066?

Tories 'want six TV debates'

The Telegraph is reporting that Rishi Sunak is willing to hold a TV debate with Keir Starmer every week until the election. A far cry from 2019 when Boris Johnson refused to go on any televised debates.

A source told the paper: “Rishi Sunak is up for debating Keir Starmer as many times as he likes. And if Starmer doesn’t want to do it, what is he hiding? If he has all these great plans, why doesn’t he come out and say what he wants to do?”

Six TV debates is a but much for me personally, and perhaps a slight sign of desperation from the Prime Minister?

Reform UK also promising change

One day into this election campaign and change is clearly the order of the day. In first speech to the nation, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told voters this was “a chance to change for the better”. Last night, Tory MP Danny Kruger explainer that actually voting for the Conservatives was a vote for change, while Labour represents more of the same. Make sense of that if you can.

And today, at Reform UK’s campaign launch in Westminster, leader Richard Tice said: “Do you want more of the same from the main two parties or do you want change?” He said: “Do you agree with me and us that actually this great nation of ours can do so much better, but we have to change course.”

Reform and Labour could form an uncomfortable pincer movement on the Tories, pulling away voters from both wings of the party who want change. Noticeably, during campaign speeches, there was no word from Reform UK’s only MP, Lee Anderson, who sat in the front row glaring at photographers. Perhaps, like many Tory MPs, he also didn’t want an election so soon?

Lee Anderson at Reform UK's campaign launch. Credit: GettyLee Anderson at Reform UK's campaign launch. Credit: Getty
Lee Anderson at Reform UK's campaign launch. Credit: Getty | AFP via Getty Images

What happens to legislation now the election has been called?

Now that Rishi Sunak has called an election, Parliament will be dissolved on 24 May in just over a week’s time - and MPs will become candidates. That means there’s a few days to wrap up any legislation which is close to passing in a process called “wash up”.

This is where the government and opposition parties agree which bills to push through Parliament and get turned into law before the legislature is dissolved. We haven’t had the list in full yet, but it certainly sounds like the Football Governance Bill, which would bring in a football regulator, is not going to make it, per this tweet by the law’s architect Tory MP Tracey Crouch.

The Guido Fawkes website is also reporting that Rishi Sunak’s landmark smoking ban legislation will also not get passed, despite the Prime Minister promising that his government would “ensure the next generation grows up smoke-free”. That was significant pledge from Sunak which, forgive me, looks like going up in smoke.

At PMQs yesterday, Sunak also promised to pass Martyn’s Law before the summer recess, which promises greater resilience to terrorism in public places. This is named after Martyn Hett who was killed in the Manchester Arena bombing, and his mother was in Parliament yesterday. While this has cross party support, it looks like another piece of legislation which may fall by the wayside with the election.

I’ll be keeping my eye on the Renters Reform Bill, which could ban no-fault evictions, and the Freehold and Leasehold Bill, which could eliminate punitive ground rents. Both policies formed part of the Tories’ 2019 manifesto, but so far haven’t been turned into law. Are they about to break these manifesto commitments?

Sunak makes footy faux-pas

Rishi Sunak has been in Wales today for the third stop on his tour of the UK. I was in London to witness part of the English leg yesterday. The Prime Minister has obviously forgotten to change his lines as he asked Welsh voters if they are “looking forward to all the football”?

He looked shocked when one person pointed out Wales have not qualified for the Euros. Scotland and England, which formed the first part of his tour, have. Here’s the clip:

SNP say general election is 'independence day'

Scotland’s First Minister John Swinney has described 4 July, the date of the general election, as “independence day”. John Swinney said the election gives voters the chance to get rid of Rishi Sunak and his “disastrous” Conservative government.

The SNP leader declared: “Never has a government deserved to lose more than Rishi Sunak’s Government.” Launching the SNP election campaign at an event in Edinburgh, he urged voters north of the border: “On July 4 – Independence Day – make sure your voice is heard.”

First Minister John Swinney and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar are gearing up for the general election (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)First Minister John Swinney and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar are gearing up for the general election (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
First Minister John Swinney and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar are gearing up for the general election (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A recent YouGov poll found Labour has a 10-point lead over the nationalists in Scotland, NationalWorld sister site’s the Scotsman reports. It predicts the SNP will win just 11 seats in the Westminster election, down from 43. Meanwhile, the poll finds Labour would secure 35 MPs, a huge increase on their existing total of just two.

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