Wednesday 11 December 2019

UK election: Party leaders get brutal grilling in latest TV debate

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: REUTERS/Phil Noble
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: REUTERS/Phil Noble

Sam Blewett

UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn insisted he would take a "neutral stance" in an EU referendum under Labour, while Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted Brexit was the only way to meet the demands on the health service during a brutal TV grilling.

As they try to tip the balance in the campaign for the December 12 general election, the leaders of the four main parties - including the Liberal Democrats' Jo Swinson and the SNP's Nicola Sturgeon - were quizzed by the audience during a special 'Question Time' broadcast on the BBC.

Mr Corbyn made his clearest comment to date on how he would act in another referendum, which Labour plans to hold between a new deal and the option to Remain within six months of taking power.

He said he would start by negotiating a "credible" Leave deal before he was interrupted by laughing.

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"And I will adopt, as prime minister, if I am at the time, a neutral stance so that I can credibly carry out the results of that to bring communities and country together rather than continuing an endless debate about the EU and Brexit," he continued.

Mr Johnson was met with groans when he said the NHS's demands could only be met when "we get Brexit done". He was also challenged over levels of child poverty and how many new hospitals the Tories were planning to build after the scheduled number dropped from 40 to six.

Ms Swinson denied treating voters as "stupid" over her plans to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit without another referendum: "We've been crystal clear about that from the very beginning."

Ms Sturgeon cast doubt on Mr Corbyn's stance of not allowing another independence referendum in the early years of an administration under his leadership.

Irish Independent

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