Clashes over Brexit and London Bridge attack as seven main parties go head to head in ITV debate

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt

The seven main parties went head-to-head for the second ITV televised debate, with clashes on the London Bridge attack, Brexit and the nuclear deterrent taking centre stage.

Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson skipped the debate, instead sending Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak to appear in their place.

While Brexit leader Nigel Farage was speaking at his first televised debate of the 2019 campaign.

Joining Mr Farage was Jo Swinson of the Liberal Democrats, the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, Sian Berry, co-leader of the Green Party and Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price.

Here is a rundown of the key moments from the debate:

London Bridge terror attack

The first question was on the London Bridge terror attack and why convicted terrorist Usman Khan was freed halfway through a 16-year jail sentence.

Conservative Rishi Sunak said it was because of a law change brought in under the Labour government in 2008, but Mr Burgon says it is because of public service cuts.

Mr Sunak blamed the last Labour government for "weakening" sentencing to allow violent criminals out of prison early.

Representing the Tories in the ITV election debate, Treasury Chief Secretary Rishi Sunak said Usman Khan had been released as result of changes brought in by the Last Labour government.

"He was released due to a law passed in 2008 under the last Labour government where people were released automatically halfway through their sentence." he said.

"We changed that law in 2012 and if he had been sentenced under out rules he would still be in jail."

For Labour, shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said it was "not true" that the only option at the time was automatic release of Khan halfway of through his sentence.

"People don't want history lessons after this terrorist atrocity. What people want is to put victims first and put keeping communities safe first."

While Nigel Farage says anyone with the "virus of jihadism" should never be let out of prison, unless authorities can be sure they no longer have extremist views.

He accused both the Tories and Labour of being too lenient on sentencing.

Mr Farage said: "I don't care if these people were in jail for six years or 12 years. If you have committed mass murder or planned to commit mass murder, you're not just a normal criminal, you've got the virus of jihadism.

"I think these people should never, ever be let out of prison unless we can be absolutely convinced they do not have the jihadi virus, but of course, political correctness stops us from doing this."

While Jo Swinson said lessons have to be learnt from the attack, a point backed by Nicola Sturgeon and attacked Boris Johnson for the "crass" way he has "politicised" the attack.


The second question was about Brexit and whether any of the parties' policies will bring the country back together.

Ms Swinson said the best way to bring the country forward is to remain in the EU, in order to "end the chaos of Brexit."

However Labour's Mr Burgon argues the only way to bring the country forward is another Brexit referendum - a move supported by SNP's Nicola Sturgeon.

But Mr Sunak attacked the proposal as "ridiculous".

Special relationship

On the UK-US special relationship, Jo Swinson says President Donald Trump "is not represent someone who shares our value" and the Conservatives should not have rolled out a red carpet for him.

She has said there are three people in the special relationship - Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

Ms Swinson says the relationship developed between Mr Trump and the Conservatives is "shocking."

The Lib Dem leader said: "This is someone who has boasted about sexually assaulting women, whose policies are discriminatory people with different backgrounds, and is seperating parents from their children at the border.

"We should be very careful with that relationship. The last thing we should have done is roll out the red carpet for him."

While Labour's Richard Burgon said the president wants access to the NHS and the UK's drugs market.

"He wants to conspire with Boris Johnson and the leader of the Brexit Party, in order to get his fat cat friends to have access to our NHS," Mr Burgon added.

But Rishi Sunak says the US is a "great ally" for the UK, and "it is important the prime minister builds alliances" around the world "that further our British interest."

The biggest clash of the night so far came when Mr Farage sought to defend Mr Trump's comments about sexually assaulting women, which drew the biggest reaction from the audience.

The Brexit Party leader said: "It was crass and it was crude and it was wrong and men say dreadful things sometimes."

But Plaid Cymru's Adam Price responded by saying: “It can never be acceptable for a man to talk about grabbing a woman’s p***y”

Spending pledges

The third question was on spending pledges and who would lose out, to which Labour's Richard Burgon responded by saying their manifesto is fully-costed.

Rishi Sunak said when they came into power they inherited a Government on "the brink of bankruptcy" and labelled Labour's spending plans as "reckless".

"We know who will pay for this...hard working Brits up and down the country, and that's the risk that must be avoided," Mr Sunak said.

While the Green Party and the Lib Dems clashed over their environment policies, with the Green's Sian Berry accusing the Lib Dems "there's no capital investment in your plans."

Ms Berry said their policies will pay for themselves and will help reduce carbon emissions.

While Nigel Farage accused Labour and the Conservatives of "lying to everybody" about their plans for the economy.

To which Nicola Sturgeon responded by saying she was "taken away" by hearing Mr Farage of accusing other people of lying, drawing on the fact he had the £350m false NHS claim plastered on his Brexit campaign bus.

Can political parties work together?

The next question is whether the political parties can come together to tackle social care and climate change.

But Labour's Richard Burgon says: "I don't believe that we can work with the Conservative Party on virtually anything."

“Let's get the Tories out and get a Labour government in,” he added.

Lib Dems leader Jo Swinson admits this election campaign has been "polarised" but said her party, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru are working together to stop Brexit.

While Sian Berry and Nigel Farage clashed on the matter of renewable energy, with the Brexit Party leader claiming the poor will be the ones paying and the wealthy given large subsidies.

Opening statements

The debate opened with Sian Berry saying we are going through "dark and dangerous times" and said "Brexit will change things for the worse."

She focused her opening speech on climate change and urged voters to "shine a light in the darkness with your vote."

While Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said "Boris Johnson can't be bothered to turn out" to debate the other parties and spoke of her "love of our country" and claims Nigel Farage is happy to help the Conservatives win the General Election.

Tory representative Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak repeated the Conservative mantra in his opening speech to "Get Brexit Done."

He said his party will bring the Brexit deal back to Parliament before Christmas, to focus on other priorities and says it is the "only way to move on."

While Brexit leader Nigel Farage claims most of the parties do not want to honour the result of the Brexit referendum.

He said his party are the "new radicals" and he wanted to "get back to being a functioning democracy."

Nicola Sturgeon, SNP leader, said she wants to lock Boris Johnson out of Downing Street and that trade talks have not yet started.

"To build a better future we need to stop Boris Johnson and the Tories and in Scotland that means voting SNP," Ms Sturgeon said.

Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price said Wales is invisible to Westminster and said his party would "put our people first."

And Labour's Richard Burgon started his speech by giving condolences to the victims of the London Bridge terror attack.

But said the justice system "has been hollowed out" and said public services were stretched, but says Labour "will be on your side."

Closing statements

The closing statement bring the debate to an end, with Nigel Farage closing first, saying the competition was one about who "can be the most politically correct".

He said the Brexit Party "would get Brexit done and reform political institutions", while Rishi Sunak said the Tories would deliver Brexit by the end of January.

Mr Sunak argues the alternative is Jeremy Corbyn who he says is "ridiculously stuck in neutral" and the Tories are the only party who "can set Britain free."

Labour's Richard Burgon ended by saying they were the party who created the NHS and wants to bring in the £10 national wage, reminding the voters they were the party "for the many, not the few."

Adam Price highlighted the issue of child poverty in Wales: "We could give all our children the best Christmas present ever - the hope of a better future."

While Sian Berry said the Green Party are "the future" and would end climate chaos.

Jo Swinson repeated her pledge of ending the Brexit chaos and says her party is the only one to stop Boris Johnson.

An assurance, Nicola Sturgeon repeated, saying: "A vote for the SNP is a vote to lock Boris Johnson out of Downing Street."