Starmer and Sunak debate 'not a good advert for politics' says Plaid Cymru leader

  • Plaid Cymru leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth, chats to ITV Wales' National Correspondent, Rob Osborne, about what his party would do for Wales if it wins seats at the election.

The leader of Plaid Cymru, has said the contest between Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer in next month's general election is 'not a good advert for politics.'

Rhun ap Iorwerth was speaking to ITV Cymru Wales following the first television debate between the Conservative Party leader and the Labour Party leader ahead of the election on 5 July.

Mr ap Iorwerth added that he believed neither men were "a good advert for UK politics that cares an iota for politics in Wales."

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer battled it out at Media City in Salford during their much-awaited live debate, airing on ITV1 and ITVX and forensically moderated by ITV News Presenter Julie Etchingham.

The first half of the programme was dominated by the cost of living, the NHS and public services.

Sir Keir kicked off the debate by telling viewers Labour will "turn the page" and stop "the chaos and division seen for the last 14 years".

He vowed he has changed the Labour Party and has "put it back in service of working people".

Mr Sunak said "uncertain times call for a clear action and a bold plan," adding "beyond raising your taxes and raising your pensions, no one knows what Labour would do" as he focused on discussing cutting taxes and immigration.

During his own interview on ITV Cymru Wales, Mr ap Iorwerth answered questions on various policy areas, saying that only Plaid Cymru could be the party to put Wales at the heart of Westminster.

When asked on the issue of immigration - which a recent YouGov poll found was one of the top priorities for people in Wales - Mr ap Iorwerth said he was 'disgusted over how both main parties vilify those people that travel across the world trying to migrate.'

He added that he would not put a number on how many migrants should be allowed to come to the UK.

"What I certainly want to do is to make sure we have the migrants coming in that we need to work in the NHS."

On those coming to the UK, illegally Mr ap Iorwerth said that they should be sent back to their own countries if it is safe for them to be returned.

When asked about immigration during the TV debate, Rishi Sunak conceded "immigration is too high" and pointed to the Conservative's Rwanda policy as a deterrent for illegal migration, as well as his legal migration cap.

For Labour, Sir Keir Starmer has promised to also reduce net migration and intends to do so by ensuring businesses applying for foreign worker visas prioritise training UK staff, while companies that break employment law could be banned from hiring overseas workers.

According to the recent poll, Brecon, Radnor and Cwm Tawe is too close to call. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

When asked about raising taxes, Mr ap Iorwerth said there needs to be a more open conversation around the issue.

"We have to have more honesty on tax. We tend to want to have public services of the highest possible order and to pay as few taxes as possible, it doesn't work in that way.

"What we're looking for in Plaid Cymru is fairness in the taxation system, so now with tax being paid at a higher level than since the Second World War by people, we certainly don't want to tax working families.

Instead Mr ap Iorwerth called for higher taxes on the super rich and closing non-dom status in the UK.

On tax for Rishi Sunak he has said there would be "£2,000 higher taxes for every working family" under a Labour government.

In response, Sir Keir said: "This £2,000 he keeps saying it's going to cost is absolute garbage."

Initial analysis by the charity Full Fact said the prime minister's claim was based on Conservative estimates of Labour spending plans and covers a long list of policy announcements.

Sir Keir continued that "this government has lost control", adding that Mr Sunak's predecessor, Liz Truss, had "crashed the economy."

During the TV debate both leaders confirmed that they did not intend to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT.

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Mr ap Iorwerth was also asked about how he would feel about the possibility of forming a coalition with the Labour Party in Westminster, something which he did not rule out.

"Our priorities are driven by the same thing always, to seek out the best deal for Wales, the maths after 4 July will decide how we're able to do that."

At the end of his interview on ITV Cymru Wales, Mr ap Iorwerth said that "we need to maximise Wales' voice, if we allow Wales to be ignored, Wales will be ignored.

"There's one party at the heart of Westminster we have been there unbroken for decades that always punches above its weight in making sure that Wales is not ignored and that the interests of Wales are put on the table at the heart of Westminster."

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