Sunak hits back at Lord Goldsmith over US jibe

Sunak in Amersham
Sunak on the campaign trail in Amersham on Monday - PA

Rishi Sunak has hit back at Lord Goldsmith as he insisted that he will not leave for California if he loses the election.

The Prime Minister’s remarks came after Zac Goldsmith, the Tory peer, speculated that he would leave for the US state if he lost power on July 4.

Speaking to supporters in Amersham, Mr Sunak said: “I’m surprised that Lord Goldsmith, who I don’t think I’ve spoken to in a very long time, seems to have some sort of intimate knowledge of my family’s arrangements.”

On whether he would leave for California, he said: “Of course not, my kids are at school, this is my home and as I said earlier my football team just got promoted to the Premier League so I intend to spend many more happy days watching them at St Mary’s.

“Of course that’s what I’m going to do. I was born and brought up in Southampton, I was raised with a very strong ethic of service to one’s community, that’s what I believe, that’s what I’ve always done.”

Mr Sunak was speaking on a day of unrest within the Tory ranks.

Lord Goldsmith, a staunch ally of Boris Johnson, vented his frustration at Sunak, predicting that “the majority of his MPs will lose their job next month.”

His comments came after MP Steve Baker, a minister at the Northern Ireland Office, appeared to criticise Mr Sunak’s National Service plan.

He said the policy - which would see 18-year-olds face either a year on a military placement or one weekend of each month volunteering - was “sprung on” MPs.

Mr Sunak endured another attack from within Tory ranks when outgoing Telford MP Lucy Allan backed a Reform UK candidate in her seat.

The Conservatives suspended her “with immediate effect”, although Ms Allan said she had already quit the party.

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07:05 PM BST

That’s all for today

We’re pausing our live coverage of the 2024 general election for now.

Our politics team will be brining you more live updates from 7am tomorrow.

In the meantime, check back to our homepage for the latest news.

06:24 PM BST

James Blunt backs National Service plan

James Blunt has given his approval to Rishi Sunak’s plan to introduce National Service,

The singer-songwriter, a former Army captain who served in Kosovo, said: “We all know it’s not going to happen, but I think the concept - to understand a bit about serving your community - is not a bad idea.

“The greatest thing about the Army is that we worked together as a team, people from all corners of the UK, and that was a huge benefit,” Blunt said during an appearance at the Hay Festival.

“I’m a posh t—- and these people were salt of the earth. A guy from Newcastle who would otherwise be nicking cars is in the Army and I know he’s going to be able to hotwire my tank to get out of a situation. Likewise, he knows that when we come across the enemy I’m going to be able to chat my way out of the situation.”

06:20 PM BST

Sunak: ‘I’m not leaving for California’

Speaking to supporters in Amersham, Rishi Sunak dismissed accusations that he will leave for California if he loses the election.

It comes after Zac Goldsmith, the Tory peer, speculated the Prime Minister would leave for the US state if he lost power on July 4.

Mr Sunak said: “I’m surprised that Lord Goldsmith who I don’t think I’ve spoken to in a very long time seems to have some sort of intimate knowledge of my family’s arrangements.”

On whether he would leave for California, he said: “Of course not, my kids are at school, this is my home and as I said earlier my football team just got promoted to the Premier League so I intend to spend many more happy days watching them at St Mary’s.

“Of course that’s what I’m going to do. I was born and brought up in Southampton, I was raised with a very strong ethic of service to one’s community, that’s what I believe, that’s what I’ve always done.”

Sunak Amersham
Sunak speaks to supporters in Amersham - Shutterstock

05:44 PM BST

Allan claims she quit Tories

Outgoing MP Lucy Allan says she has quit the Conservatives, despite the party saying she has been suspended.

It comes after the MP for Telford, who is stepping down at the election, announced her support for Reform UK candidate Alan Adams to be the next MP.

A Tory spokesman said she had been “suspended with immediate effect”, but Ms Allan claims she left on her own accord.

She said: “I have resigned from the Conservative Party to support Alan Adams to be Telford’s next MP. I have known Alan for many years and he is genuinely the best person for the job. I want the best for Telford and I can’t just let the Labour candidate have a walkover.

She added: “Alan gives Telford a choice, so that Telford does not have to settle for more of the same politics and more of the same politicians.”

05:18 PM BST

Theresa May: ‘I would have used an umbrella’

Theresa May has poked fun at Rishi Sunak’s rain-soaked general election announcement, saying she would have used an umbrella.

During an appearance at the Hay Festival, the former Prime Minister was asked by a member of the public: “You declared an election in 2017. What would you have done if, just before you were about to declare it, it started chucking it down?”

Mrs May replied: “I’m tempted to say, I think possibly those around me might have provided me with an umbrella.”

Mr Sunak was widely mocked for making his election announcement in the pouring rain.

Mrs May, who is standing down at the election, was speaking at Hay to promote her new book, The Abuse of Power.

05:11 PM BST

Tories suspend MP with ‘immediate effect’

The Conservatives have suspended MP Lucy Allan after she backed a Reform UK candidate to take over her seat.

Ms Allan, who has represented Telford since 2015 and is stepping down at the election, said she was supporting Alan Adams to be the next MP.

A Tory spokesman said: “Lucy Allan has been suspended from the Party with immediate effect.

“The people of Telford now have the chance to vote for a dedicated and hardworking new candidate who will put Telford first. A vote for Reform is a vote for Keir Starmer.”

04:46 PM BST

Starmer chats with business owners in Barnet

Sir Keir Starmer hit the campaign trail with a visit to Barnet, north London.

The Labour leader chatted with local business owners at Oak Caffe.

Starmer in Barnet
Starmer chats to local business owners in Barnet - PA

04:31 PM BST

Tory MP backs Reform candidate to take over seat

A Tory MP has backed a Reform UK candidate to take over her seat at the general election.

Lucy Allan said she was supporting Alan Adams to be the next MP for Telford in an post on X, formerly Twitter.

Ms Allan announced in June 2023 that she would not stand for the seat and is one of 78 Tory MPs who will not seek re-election

04:22 PM BST

Sunak stacks plant pots

In his second campaign stop of the day, Rishi Sunak made a fleeting visit to a garden centre in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.

There, the Prime Minister met Nigel Gardner, the Conservative candidate for the new constituency of Harpenden and Berkhamsted.

The two stacked plant pots onto shelves together as Mr Gardner remarked about the “huge new constituency” he was standing to represent.

Mr Sunak exited the garden centre, passing by the cashiers and out onto the high street, with shoppers surprised to see the Prime Minister.

Some members of the public could be heard attempting to heckle him as he walked down the street outside.

Sunak stacking plants
Sunak stacked plant pots onto shelves at a garden centre - REUTERS

04:17 PM BST

Rishi Sunak set to make remarks at 5pm

Rishi Sunak is set to make remarks while out on the campaign trail today.

You can watch the prime minister live on our stream from 5pm.

04:01 PM BST

Sunak shows off his skills

In his first campaign visit of Monday, Rishi Sunak took part in football drills at Chesham United football ground alongside young players.

The Prime Minister tried his hand at dribbling exercises alongside four different age groups: under-eights, under-nines, under-11s and under-16s.

“Did we win?” he asked the group of players he had joined after the whistle blew. “No,” one of them replied.

Mr Sunak was later presented with the trophy that Chesham United men’s team won on coming top in the Southern League Premier South, and stood for photos.

The Prime Minister could also been seen talking with teenage volunteers acting as referees on the pitch as he sought to promote his new National Service policy.

Sunak playing football
Sunak shows off his skills - PA

03:44 PM BST

Voters could end SNP’s independence push ‘for good’, says Ross

Scottish voters could put an end to the SNP’s push for independence, Douglas Ross has said.

The Scottish Tory leader said voters had a “once-in-a-generation chance” to end the governing party’s independence demands “for good”.

His comments came as he prepared to launch his party’s campaign in Perth, the seat held by First Minister John Swinney, on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Mr Ross said: “We’re here in John Swinney’s back yard to put him on notice that the Scottish Conservatives are coming for SNP seats like this one.

He added: “In this election, the opportunity is there to finally end their independence demands for good.”

03:24 PM BST

Two Labour MPs stand down ahead of election

Barbara Keeley, the Labour MP for Worsley and Eccles South, has announced she is standing down before the general election.

Ms Keeley, who underwent surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer in 2019, underwent further hospital treatment earlier this year.

Writing on X on Monday, she said: “Thinking about the demands of the campaign, including supporting Labour colleagues in battleground seats, has made me realise that now is the time to step aside for a new Labour candidate for the constituency.”

The 72-year-old has been MP for her constituency since 2010 and, before that, had been MP for Worsley since 2005.

John Spellar, Labour MP for Warley in the Black Country, also announced he was standing down on Monday.

03:09 PM BST

Sunak distances himself from Tory jibes

Rishi Sunak has distanced himself from Tory attacks on Sir Keir Starmer over his age.

The 44-year-old Prime Minister said “the substance is what matters” following the comments about his 61-year-old rival.

Conservatives claimed on Sunday the Labour leader does not have the “stamina” to campaign, saying he had been “resting at home”.

Mr Sunak told reporters: “The substance is what matters at this election, it’s a choice about the future.”

He added: “When it comes to Keir Starmer, that’s the choice that’s on offer - no ideas, no plan and you don’t deliver a better future, you don’t deliver any change, without those things.”

03:02 PM BST

‘I’m done’: President of Birmingham Young Conservatives defects

The president of the Birmingham Young Conservatives has blamed the National Service scheme for his defectment to the Liberal Democrats.

Harvey Whitby said the “rushed reintroduction” of the scheme was “particularly concerning” and warned it would “impact on the youth vote”.

Mr Whitby added that the Tories seemed “determined to lose the upcoming election” and that it was “increasingly difficult for me to stand before the public, whether canvassing or online, and encourage them to vote Conservative.”

He posted his resignation letter on X with a two-word caption: “I’m done”.

02:47 PM BST

Sunak: National Service is ‘right policy at the right time’

Rishi Sunak has defended his National Service plan as the “right policy at the right time”.

He told reporters in Buckinghamshire: “This is the right thing to do because this is how we will deliver a secure future for everyone and our country.

“We are not going to do that without taking bold action and that’s the type of leadership that I offer.”

He added: “This modern form of national service will mean that young people get the skills and the opportunities that they need which is going to serve them very well in life.

“It’s going to foster a culture of service which is going to be incredibly powerful for making our society more cohesive and in a more uncertain and dangerous world it’s going to strengthen our country’s security and resilience.”

02:32 PM BST

Sunak: National Service 18-year-old’s would be paid stipend

Rishi Sunak has said 18-year-olds who sign up for the military section of his national service plan would be paid a stipend to help with living costs.

The scheme will cost £2.5 billion a year by 2029-30, according to the Conservatives’ figures.

The Prime Minister, answering questions on TikTok about the Tory policy, said: “As is the case in other countries, we will provide a stipend to help with living costs for those doing the military element alongside their training.

”Meanwhile, on the civic side, we will make sure organisations have funding for training and administration.”

He was answering questions on the Conservatives’ TikTok account. The party is using the social media site even though security concerns have seen its use banned from Government devices.

02:30 PM BST

Starmer rules out votes for EU citizens in pledge U-turn

Sir Keir Starmer has ruled out giving votes to EU citizens in a U-turn on a previous pledge.

In his 2020 Labour leadership campaign, Sir Keir had called for “full voting rights for EU nationals”.

Plans to give votes to settled migrants had been expected to be announced in Labour’s manifesto. However, the proposal was absent from a list of policies drawn up by leading Labour figures and union leaders in the run-up to last year’s party conference.

Asked on Monday whether he could rule out votes for EU citizens, Sir Keir replied: “Yes.”

Amy Gibbons, our Political Correspondent, reports.

02:18 PM BST

‘Prosecco and party poppers’ on Lib Dem battle bus

The Liberal Democrats’ election battle bus is off on a four-day tour of key seats the party is looking to win on July 4, complete with prosecco and party poppers.

Having left central London early on Monday afternoon, the Yellow Hammer 1 will visit Lib Dem heartlands as well as “blue wall” constituencies that Sir Ed Davey plans to win from the Conservatives.

The first stop will be Windermere, where ex-Lib Dem leader Tim Farron is the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale.

Party activists will be in the constituency tomorrow for a campaign event with Sir Ed.

Telegraph reporter Tim Sigsworth will be with the Lib Dems every step of the way as the party’s campaign gets into full flow.

02:14 PM BST

Scottish Tory leader on campaign trail in Falkirk

Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, is on the campaign trail in Falkirk.

He has appeared at the Kelpies, a pair of monumental steel horse-head sculptures, alongside campaigners holding a sign calling for MSP Michael Matheson to be sacked by the SNP.

Mr Matheson, the disgraced Falkirk West MSP, has faced calls to resign after he charged the taxpayer for an £11,000 roaming bill on his parliamentary iPad.

Douglas Ross
Douglas Ross and campaigners in Falkirk - Duncan McGlynn

02:04 PM BST

Lib Dems warn of ‘National Service tax’

Fining parents whose children don’t take part in their National Service will lead to a “national service tax”, the Liberal Democrats have warned.

Rishi Sunak made the first major policy announcement of the general election campaign on Sunday, as he pledged to bring back the scheme for 18-year-olds.

On Monday, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a Foreign Office minister, refused to rule out whether parents would face prosecution if their 18-year-olds refuse to sign up.

Daisy Cooper, the Lib Dem Deputy Leader, said: “Not content with crashing the economy and sending mortgages spiraling, now the Conservatives want to fine parents whose children don’t take part in their hare-brained scheme.

”Rishi Sunak wants to clobber families with a National Service tax. It just shows the Conservative Party is totally out of touch and deserves to be kicked out of office.”

01:47 PM BST

Tory peer says majority of party MPs will lose their seats

The majority of Tory MPs will lose their jobs at the general election, says Conservative peer Zac Goldsmith.

In a post attacking Rishi Sunak on X, Lord Goldsmith predicted that the Prime Minister would “disappear off to California” after the election.

01:16 PM BST

Sunak’s plan for National Service ‘completely unravelling’

Rishi Sunak’s plan for National Service is “already completely unravelling” after criticism from a Tory minister, a Labour MP has said.

The Prime Minister’s plan - for eighteen-year-olds to serve in the Armed Forces or carry out community service - was seemingly criticised by MP Steve Baker, a minister of state at the Northern Ireland Office, on Monday.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Mr Baker said it was “sprung on” on MPs.

Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth told Sky News: “We’ve had Tory ministers today, the Northern Ireland minister, criticising the plan. It is extraordinary that Rishi Sunak’s flagship policy in this campaign… is already completely unravelling.”

12:54 PM BST

Cleverly mocks Starmer in tongue-in-cheek post

The Home Secretary has mocked Sir Keir Starmer’s speech in a tongue-in-cheek post on X, formerly Twitter.

James Cleverly posted an edited three-second clip of Sir Keir’s answer on whether he would repeal Voter ID.

The post shows only part of the Labour leader’s answer, in which he says: “We haven’t got great plans”.

Mr Cleverly posted it with the caption “rare clarity from Keir Starmer.”

In fact, when asked about Voter ID, Sir Keir had said: “We’ll look at this, but we haven’t got great plans, and I think there is a review that has gone through in relation to Voter ID.”

12:29 PM BST

Votes for SNP for will ‘get rid’ of Tory MPs, says Swinney

John Swinney has told supporters that voting for the SNP is “the quickest way to get rid of the Tory MPs” in Scotland.

In a campaign speech in Dumfries, the First Minister of Scotland said: “We’ve had a disastrous Conservative government that has inflicted austerity, Brexit, and the cost of living crisis on Scotland.

“The SNP are the challengers in every single Tory held constituency in Scotland.

“Votes for the SNP are the quickest way to get rid of the Tory MPs and to get rid of the Tory government from Scotland.”

12:18 PM BST

Can Lib Dems reclaim status as third biggest party?

Sir Ed Davey has said the Liberal Democrats can become the third biggest party in politics again after the general election.

Speaking as his party launched its Scottish election campaign on Monday, Sir Ed said the Lib Dems could overtake the SNP.

He told BBC Radio Scotland that his party was targeting four seats north of the border currently held by SNP MPs.

“I think we have a real chance, when we get to July 5 - the day after polling day - there will be more liberals than nationalists in the next parliament,” he said.

“I think the Liberal Democrats can be the third party in UK politics again.”

12:09 PM BST

Scottish Labour leader visits wind farm in South Lanarkshire

The Scottish Labour leader is on a visit to a windfarm in South Lanarkshire this bank holiday Monday.

Anas Sarwar visited the wind farm, which is owned by farmer Andrew Stewart, alongside Imogen Walker, the Scottish Labour candidate for Hamilton and Clyde Valley,.

Anas Sarwar windfarm
Anas Sarwar stands by a wind turbine on his visit to South Lanarkshire - Wattie Cheung

11:58 AM BST

Starmer hits back at claims he “lacks stamina”

Sir Keir Starmer hit back at accusations he lacked the energy for the General Election campaign, saying he had been smiling since the start of the year at the prospect of a public vote.

Conservatives claimed on Sunday the Labour leader does not have the “stamina” to campaign, saying he had been “resting at home”, although pictures later emerged of Sir Keir meeting voters in Brighton.

Speaking at a campaign event in Lancing, West Sussex, on Monday, Sir Keir dismissed the claims as “desperate”. He said: “I’ve had a smile on my face since January 1 2024 because I knew this was going to be an election year.

“I’ve wasted nine years of my life in opposition. I’ve worked four-and-a-half years to change this Labour Party, and now I’ve got the chance to take that to the country.

“So we’re doing that not only with energy, but with a smile, with positivity across all of our candidates as we go into this election.”

11:55 AM BST

Baroness Warsi: Labour must ‘follow through’ on Gaza commitments

Sayeeda Warsi, a Tory peer in the House of Lords, said she hopes Labour can “follow through” on its Gaza commitments.

In his speech, Sir Keir Starmer urged Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to “stop” after a blast at a refugee camp in the Rafah area killed dozens of people.

He called for a ceasefire and for a two-state solution, which includes “the recognition of Palestine as a viable state”.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Baroness Warsi said: “If Labour win the election I genuinely hope they can follow through on these commitments

“We desperately need UK leadership on the issue.”

11:48 AM BST

Pictured: Out on the campaign

Sir Keir Starmer and Sir Ed Davey are both out on the campaign trail this bank holiday Monday.

Sir Keir is busy speaking to party supporters after making his first keynote speech at Lancing Parish Hall in West Sussex.

While Sir Ed is at the party’s Scottish launch at North Queensferry

Starmer speaks to supporters after his speech
Starmer speaks to supporters after his speech - Stefan Rousseau
Ed Davey stands with Alex Cole-Hamilton and Liberal Democrat supporters
Ed Davey stands with Alex Cole-Hamilton and Liberal Democrat supporters - Andrew Milligan

11:46 AM BST

What will Labour’s first 100 days in office look like?

Labour’s first 100 days in office will set the tone for what a Government led by Sir Keir Starmer will do.

Sir Keir has adopted a “ming vase” strategy, cautiously revealing as little about his policy platform as he can get away with to avoid denting his 20-point lead in the polls.

But hints of what a Labour Government will mean for Britain have started to drip out now that the election campaign is under way.

But how will his first 100 days unfold? Tim Sigsworth takes a look at what we might expect

11:04 AM BST

Tory chairman: Starmer has ‘no policy, no substance and no plan’

Richard Holden, the Conservative Party chairman, accused Sir Keir Starmer of a “wearisome and rambling” speech.

“Once again Keir Starmer stood up to tell the country absolutely nothing. In this wearisome and rambling speech, there was no policy, no substance and no plan,” Mr Holden said.

“The question remains: will Starmer ever find the courage and conviction to tell us what he would do, or does he simply not know?

“The choice is clear: stick with the plan that is working and take bold action for a safer, more secure future with Rishi Sunak, or go back to square one with Labour.”

10:57 AM BST

Starmer: I will say no to Burnham and Khan when needed

On whether he was ready to face a challenge from the likes of Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan, and say no to them when he had to, Sir Keir Starmer said: “Yes and yes.

“I would expect them to challenge me. They are there to represent the people who put them into power as mayors, it is their absolute responsibility to fight for all of the people that voted for them and all of the people who didn’t vote for them in the areas they represent.

“And I have no doubt we will have robust conversations... But what you will have is a grown-up approach and a Westminster government if we are privileged enough to serve working with our mayors.”

10:56 AM BST

‘Change and rebuild with Labour’

Asked about the charge he did not command enthusiasm from the public, Sir Keir Starmer replied: “When I look at the opinion polls, when I look at what people are saying about this election, by and large there’s a consensus that this changed Labour Party is what has put us in a position this time to win where we were so hopelessly not in a position in 2019.

“That is my mission, that is my work, that is what I’ve been doing for four and a half years.”

He added: “The changed Labour Party is my project and in the way we’re able to go into this election demonstrates how a changed Labour Party is in a position now to credibly put its plans before the country to make the choice clear between more of the same or change and rebuild with Labour.”

10:55 AM BST

Starmer: We will ‘look at’ voter ID laws

Sir Keir Starmer said a Labour government “will look at” voter ID laws.

“I think there is a review that has gone through in relation to voter ID but at the moment I have to say my priorities are the economy, the NHS and the first steps that I have set out.”

On ‘Weary Keir’ and ‘Sleepy Keir’ briefings from the Tories, he said: “You’ve seen the energy that not only I but the whole team are putting into this election. I’ve had a smile on my face since January 1, 2024 because I knew this was going to be election year.

“I’ve wasted nine years of my life in opposition, I’ve spent four and a half years as leader of the Labour Party... We’re doing that not only with the energy but also with a smile, with the positivity, across all of our candidates as we go into the next general election.”

10:52 AM BST

Starmer: I ‘respect and understand’ aspiration of private school parents

Challenged on his message to parents of private school pupils, Sir Keir Starmer said: “Firstly that I completely understand that many parents work hard and save hard to be able to send their children to private schools. I know that, I respect that and I understand that.

“But there are difficult choices to be made. At the moment we don’t have enough basic teachers in our state secondary schools. Rishi Sunak says he wants maths to 18. It’s a fine idea but at the moment we don’t have enough maths teachers to aged 16 in our state schools.

“I’ve got to answer the question if I’m going to have 6,500 extra teachers in our state secondary schools, as we will, how am I going to pay for it? And so the tax break for private schools has to go and that will be used directly to fund those places in our state secondary schools.

“I understand the aspirations of those that work and save to send their children to private school. I also understand the aspirations of those who send their children to state schools, as I do. It’s intolerable for me to see teenagers without the teachers they need in our state secondary schools... That isn’t a one or two-year problem, for them it’s about the rest of their lives.”

10:49 AM BST

Starmer backs third country processing but not Rwanda scheme

Asked “are the 15 EU countries trying to secure a Rwanda-style deal wrong?”, Sir Keir Starmer responded: “I think what they’re proposing is some sort of third country processing, and I’m not against third country processing.

“I think we’ve used it quite successfully in a number of places. Afghanistan, although it could be much better in relation to the Afghanistan scheme, you remember what happened with the Taliban a couple of years ago, Ukraine... There are examples where it could work well.

“But there’s a difference between processing at the point where people are in Afghanistan or whatever and simply deporting people to Rwanda. There’s a fundamental difference. They’re not wrong, but they’re not actually proposing the Rwanda scheme... Only one person has gone and they got paid to go.”

10:46 AM BST

Starmer: I’ve chosen NHS appointments over abolishing tuition fees

Sir Keir Starmer said “huge damage” had been done to the economy since he pledged to abolish tuition fees in his 2020 Labour leadership campaign.

“Abolishing tuition fees would cost a huge amount of money and we can’t both abolish tuition fees and have 40,000 extra appointments a week in the NHS, we’ve done the sums, we can’t have both.

“So I’ve taken a political choice which is to say at the moment we have got to prioritise the NHS. That is the political choice of the Labour Party, that is what you put before the electorate... We won’t be able to do what we wanted on the NHS.”

10:44 AM BST

Starmer rules out giving vote to EU citizens

Asked whether he could rule out votes for EU citizens, Sir Keir Starmer replied: “Yes.”

He added: “On the votes for 16 and 17-year-olds, I strongly believe if you can work as you can when you’re 16 and 17, if you can serve in our Armed Forces, if you pay your taxes as you do if you’re a 16 or 17-year-old, you have a right to say how those taxes are going to be used.”

10:43 AM BST

Labour ‘can win’ in East Worthing and Shoreham

Asked about the 10,000-plus people who had already crossed the Channel this year and how he would aim to stop the boats, Sir Keir Starmer said: “I do not think it’s a coincidence that he has held the election before [the Rwanda plan] can be tested.”

He said the scale of small boat crossings were “intolerable” and railed against “vile gangs”, promising his new Border Force Command would have additional powers akin to counterterror measures.

Questioned on whether he could win East Worthing and Shoreham, Sir Keir replied: “Yes.”

10:41 AM BST

Starmer’s message to Netanyahu: ‘Stop’

Asked what he would be saying to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, Sir Keir Starmer said: “Stop. Those scenes, those reports, are horrifying.

“And what makes it worse is that this was a safe zone with women and children in it, and families that already fled a number of times. It is horrifying to see that.

“I’ve been saying for some time that the Rafah offensive should not have taken place, and what you saw there was the consequences, the inevitable consequences, of that offensive.”

He added: “There needs to be a ceasefire, it needs to be in place straight away, and that makes a space for hostages to come out, for humanitarian aid to desperately get in and to provide a foot in the door for the political process that’s the only long term way through this to a two-state solution, which includes in the process the recognition of Palestine as a viable state alongside a safe and secure Israel.

“I was shocked by what I saw overnight, I think any human being would be shocked by what they saw overnight, it’s got to stop.”

10:38 AM BST

Rishi Sunak: Our country needs bold action, not waffle

Rishi Sunak tweeted during Sir Keir Starmer’s speech: “Not a single plan for the future. Our country needs bold action, not waffle.”

The official Conservative Party account added: “Listening to this Starmer speech and it’s genuinely remarkable how someone can use so many words to say absolutely nothing.

“People deserve to hear a plan. An election is about ideas, not waffle.”

10:37 AM BST

Starmer: We need strong defences but National Service plan is desperate

Sir Keir Starmer said you can “never repeat enough who you are and what you stand for”.

The Labour leader added: “I do think as you come into the election, I think it is important to repeat that and explain how it has shaped me and shaped our thinking.”

Pressed on the popularity of some version of National Service, Sir Keir replied: “I do accept the proposition that we need strong defences but I think this plan is desperate.

“I don’t think it’ll work, you’ve seen what military experts have said about it... This is a Government that has hollowed out our Armed Forces.”

He accused the Tories of having “completely abandoned” the levelling up project.

10:35 AM BST

Starmer dismisses he is ‘too weary’ for the campaign

Asked about Tory claims he was “too weary” for the campaign, Sir Keir Starmer replied: “I think they’re just so desperate, they’re rummaging around in the sort of toy box, coming out with military service. It really is desperate.

“The difference is this... We’ve had a strategy, we’ve had a plan that we’ve worked on for this election for four-and-a-half years. We’re executing our plan and our strategy.

“I realise that may be something that the Tories don’t recognise, a strategy, a plan that we stick to. But that’s what we’re doing.”

10:33 AM BST

Starmer accuses Sunak of ‘weakness upon weakness’

Sir Keir Starmer said Rishi Sunak “never believed” in the Rwanda policy.

“He tried to stop it when he was chancellor, but he was too weak to stand up to his party. He caved in and now he’s gone through and it’s cost £600 million. And now he’s called an election before it can be tested. Weakness upon weakness.”

Sir Keir added: “Service isn’t just a word. It requires action, you have to roll up your sleeves and change things for the better. I have changed this Labour Party, dragged it back to service and I will do exactly the same for Westminster.

“That is the choice at this election, service or self-interest, stability or chaos, a Labour Party that has changed or a Tory Party that has run away from the mainstream.

“The choice is yours, you can stop the chaos, you can turn the page, you can join with us and together we can rebuild our country.”

10:30 AM BST

‘Country first, party second, I will fight for you’

The Labour leader said elections were about “more than individual changes and policies”, also extending to “values, temperament, character, and a bigger question, ‘whose side are you on?’”

“Who do you hold in your mind’s eye when making decisions? Now everything I have fought for has been shaped by my life, every change I’ve made to this party has been about a cause. The answer to that question, the only answer, the working people of this country, delivering on their aspirations, earning their respect, serving their interests.”

Sir Keir Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer

He adds: “I will fight for you. I took this Labour Party four and a half years ago and I changed it into the party you see today. I was criticised for some of the changes I made. Change is always like that, always people who say don’t do it, you’re going too fast.

“But wherever I saw a fork in the road, in the Crown Prosecution Service, in my work in Northern Ireland, and especially my work in the Labour Party, it always comes back to this, the golden threat, ‘country first, party second’, I will fight for you.

“Because you cannot restore trust and respect with the politics of protest. You cannot move our country forward with gimmicks and gestures. And you cannot truly serve the country if you only do what is convenient. That is why I changed the Labour Party. That is how we serve the British people. I see no fight in the Prime Minister, no appetite to do the same for his party.

“They will not change. Seriously, whenever he is confronted by factions in his party, people who are miles away from serving the values of the British people, he caves in every time, a party-first weakness at the heart of his leadership.”

10:26 AM BST

Starmer brands National Service ‘a sort of teenage Dad’s Army’

Sir Keir Starmer rattled through Labour’s six ‘first steps’ on border control, the economy, the NHS and crime.

Sir Keir said low-level crime “blights communities”, promising 13,000 new police, and vowed to introduce thousands of new teachers with money raised from VAT on private schools.

Turning to the Tories’ National Service plan, he added: “The desperation of this National Service policy, a sort of teenage Dad’s Army, paid for - I kid you - not by cancelling Levelling Up funding and money from tax avoidance that we would use to invest in our NHS.

“Now all elections are a choice, and this is a clear one. Levelling up and the NHS with Labour, or more desperate chaos with the Tories. That is the choice.”

10:23 AM BST

‘I’m not prepared to let a Labour government inflict that pain on working people’

Sir Keir Starmer railed against Liz Truss as he recalled a visit to a couple in Wolverhampton in the wake of her mini-Budget.

“I saw a couple, they had one child, a three-year-old. They’d made the decision they wanted a second child, they’d found a new house they could move into for their expanded family, they’d got a mortgage offer they could afford...

“Liz Truss trashed the economy, their mortgage offer went through the roof, they had to pull out of the sale, stay where they were, cancel their house.

“But they also took a more profound decision. They decided they could no longer afford to have a second child. Now they will live with the consequences of that for their lives. That is the price that they paid. And I’m not prepared to let a Labour government ever inflict that pain on working people, ever.”

10:22 AM BST

Starmer: End the Tory chaos and let’s rebuild

Sir Keir Starmer said that “an end to the Tory chaos” can help “rebuild our country”.

“Step one, economic stability, the very foundation of growth with tough spending rules that mean we can keep inflation, taxes and mortgages low.

“And I don’t know about you, I am fed up of listening to the Prime Minister telling you that we’ve ‘turned the corner’. Turned the corner! This is a form of disrespect in itself. Taxes, higher than at any time since the war. Chaos, hitting every working family to the tune of £5,000. And a Prime Minister prepared to do it all over again.

“Now he says he wants to get rid of National Insurance. That’s £46 billion that is currently used on your pension and the NHS. And he’s not prepared to say how he’ll fund it. That means at this election, either your pension is under threat, or he’s prepared to blow the economy up all over again. He hasn’t learnt a thing.

“And working people need stability. They want things to improve, they want things to move on, they want change, but they expect you to take care of the public finances as well, because if you lose control of the economy it’s working people who pay the price.”

10:19 AM BST

I know countless voters are undecided, said Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer told an audience in East Worthing and Shoreham: “Whatever the polls say, I know there are countless people who haven’t decided how they’ll vote in this election.

“They’re fed up with the failure, the chaos and the division of the Tories but they still have questions about us. Has Labour changed enough? Do I trust them with my money, our borders, our security? My answer is yes you can, because I’ve changed this party permanently.

“This has been my driving mission since day one. I was determined to change Labour so it could serve the British people, give them a government that matches the ambition they have for their families and their communities. And the very foundation for any good government is economic security, border security, national security.”

Sir Keir said it would be the electorate’s “core test” - “The definition of service, can you protect this country? I haven’t worked for four years on this just to stop now. This is the bedrock, the first steps, that our manifesto will be built on.”

10:16 AM BST

Keir Starmer: Voters deserve the hope Britain will be better for their children

Sir Keir Starmer said voters deserved “the security, the certainty, the basic ordinary hope that Britain will be better for your children”.

Sir Keir said his parents always believed that “in the end, hard work would be rewarded and Britain would be better for their children”.

“That may not sound like much to some people but you can’t underestimate how important it is for working-class families like mine, how much it comforted my parents, particularly towards the end of their lives. It gave us a hope and a stability that we could build our lives around.”

10:14 AM BST

Starmer pledges ‘country first, party second’

Sir Keir Starmer said his background had also shaped his politics “in a deeper way”.

“Politics has always been something that happens far away, and yet something more profound has changed during the last 14 years of Tory government. People now feel more and more of the decisions that affect their community are not only taken by people who live miles away, but have little empathy for their challenges.

“A politics that at best is doing something to people not with them, and at its worst, as we saw in horrifying detail in Westminster last week, those twin injustices - Horizon and infected blood scandals - is something much, much darker even than that.

“It’s about respect, or to be precise the lack of it... For a long time now working people have believed opportunity in Britain is stacked against them. But now we’re at a dangerous U-point, close to crossing a Rubicon of trust not just in politics but in many of the institutions that are meant to serve and protect the British people.”

Sir Keir added: “When you put that alongside a Government that over 14 years has left living standards in this country worse than when they found them, that has torched any semblance of standards in public life, Westminster parties that broke the rules they put in place to save lives, and expected you to follow, then you get a crisis in nothing less than who we are as a nation. The values that have held us together, that have driven us on through hard times towards our greatest achievements, taken to the edge by these Tories.

“Healing these wounds is what national renewal means. Politics has to be about service. Britain must be a country that respects your contribution. Everyone, not just those at the top, deserve the chance to get on. Now these are the ideas that I’m fighting for. This is my project, a Britain once more in the service of working people, country first, party second.”

10:11 AM BST

Britain paying ‘unforgivable’ price for Tory chaos - Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer said his dad was toolmaker and his mum was a nurse but for most of her life had a debilitating illness called Still’s Disease.

“She would have hated it being called debilitating, because she never gave up and she never complained, but her illness did shape our lives, whether that was many, many hours spent with her in high-dependency units when she was a teenager, not quite knowing whether she would pull through, or whether it was just her incredible resilience.”

Sir Keir said his mother was “single-minded in her determination” and rose to the challenge of being told she was never going to walk over and over again.

The Labour leader said there were “hard times” in the 1970s “and I know what out-of-control inflation feels like, how the rising cost of living can make you scared of the postman coming down the path. Would he bring another bill I can’t afford?”

Sir Keir recalled his parents having the phone cut off rather than paying the bill “because it was the easiest one to do without”.

“All of that, my background, has stayed with me. It shaped the plan that I’ve drawn up for Britain, the importance above all of economic stability, the need never to put working people through the whirlwind of chaos, rising taxes, rising prices, rising mortgage costs. £5,000 for every working family. That is what the Tories have inflicted on Britain. The price working people have paid for their chaos, and it’s unforgivable.”

10:08 AM BST

Starmer recalls his countryside roots

Sir Keir Starmer is speaking in East Worthing and Shoreham as he thanks his audience for coming to his speech on a Bank Holiday Monday.

“We’re in Sussex which is a beautiful part of the world, a part I know quite well, my sisters live in Sussex and I’ve got an uncle who lived very close to here,” Sir Keir said.

“Like everyone, I imagine, my character is shaped by where I started in life. Now I grew up in a small town, actually not a million miles from here, it’s a place called Oxted on the Surrey-Kent border.

“What you’ll see is a place that in my opinion is about as English as it gets, a mix of Victorian red bricks and pebble-dash semis, all around you’ve got rolling hills, pastures and the beautiful chalk hills of the North Downs. I loved growing up there. You could make easy money, clearing stones for the local farmers - that was actually my first ever job.

“You could play football until the cows came home, literally... We shared our pitch with the local cows. But not just the beauty, or the football, also the quiet uncomplaining resilience, the togetherness of the countryside. That is the best of British. And to be honest it’s just as well because you need it. Anyone who thinks that hardship in Britain is found only in our cities, anyone who thinks there’s no struggle outside our cities, yes even here in the South East, let me tell you they know nothing of the countryside.”

10:05 AM BST

Starmer speaking in a seat that has been Tory since 1997

Tom Rutlands, Labour’s candidate in East Worthing and Shoreham, is introducing party leader Sir Keir Starmer.

The constituency has been represented by Tory MP Tim Loughton, who is standing down, since its creation in 1997.

Labour won a majority on Ader district council for the first time ever at the local elections earlier this month.

09:53 AM BST

Coming up

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, is due to deliver his first keynote speech of the general election campaign at around 10am.

He is set to make the case to voters that Labour Party can be trusted as he aims to win further support for his “changed” party.

09:38 AM BST

Starmer will insist he can be trusted in first major speech

A host of bleary-eyed journalists are preparing to quiz Sir Keir Starmer at his first keynote speech of the election campaign, following an early start to the Bank Holiday, writes our Political Correspondent Amy Gibbons.

After a brief walk from the train station, and a short break for a much-needed coffee fix, reporters have settled into the venue in West Sussex where the Labour leader will be speaking this morning.

Sir Keir Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer on a campaign visit to Stafford on Saturday - Jacob King/PA Wire

In his speech, Sir Keir will acknowledge that the public is not yet convinced that his party is fit to govern.

But he will insist that the changes he has made mean Labour can now be trusted with people’s money and the country’s borders.

Afterwards, journalists will get the opportunity to ask him a few questions. Stay tuned for updates on the ground.

09:36 AM BST

Steve Baker shares criticism of National Service

Steve Baker has shared criticism of National Service on social media in addition to his own remarks saying the scheme was “sprung on” Tory MPs.

Mr Baker shared a post on X in which a Financial Times reader suggested “National Service for pensioners... make people do a year’s service for their country before they get their triple-locked pension.”

The comment went on: “The oldies think that National Services offers ‘opportunities’ and helps people from different backgrounds meet, and lots of other good things, so they should be happy to get those benefits for themselves, right?”

09:24 AM BST

Watch: Parents could be fined if children refuse to do National Service, minister suggests

This from Anne-Marie Trevelyan’s appearance on Times Radio this morning:

09:19 AM BST

Labour tells private schools to ‘make cuts’ as VAT raid looms

Private schools must make cuts to cope with Labour’s planned VAT raid as the state sector was forced to by the Conservatives, Rachel Reeves has said.

Labour plans to impose 20 per cent VAT on private school fees if it wins the general election, with Sir Keir Starmer pledging to roll out the policy “straight away”.

It has prompted a backlash from private school headteachers and parents, who are warning that it could lead to an exodus of pupils to the state sector and force the closure of some private institutions.

Asked about concerns over the VAT raid by The Telegraph on Sunday, Ms Reeves dismissed them, saying: “I’m sure that private schools can make efficiencies in the same way that state schools have been making efficiencies this last decade or so.”

Albert Tait and Daniel Martin have more here

09:06 AM BST

Steve Baker says National Service was ‘sprung on’ MPs

A Government minister appeared to criticise Rishi Sunak’s National Service plan as he said it was “sprung on” MPs.

Rishi Sunak made the first major policy announcement of the general election campaign over the weekend, confirming 18-year-olds would face either a year on a military placement or one weekend of each month volunteering.

But Steve Baker, a minister of state at the Northern Ireland Office, noted a defence minister ruled out the return of National Service the day after Rishi Sunak called a general election.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Mr Baker said: It’s a Conservative Party policy. The Government’s policy was set out on Thursday. I don’t like to be pedantic but a Government policy would have been developed by ministers on the advice of officials and collectively agreed. I would have had a say on behalf of Northern Ireland.

“But this proposal was developed by a political adviser or advisers and sprung on candidates, some of whom are relevant ministers.”

Mr Baker served in the Royal Air Force as an engineer officer. His constituency of Wycombe is a marginal seat and he beat Labour by just over 4,000 votes, or eight per cent, at the last general election in 2019.

09:01 AM BST

Can things only get better for the Lib Dems?

Sir Ed Davey has said the general election campaign feels like 1997, when Labour won a landslide, writes Amy Gibbons.

The Lib Dem leader claimed his party is getting the best response from voters it has received “for a generation” and accused the Tories of taking the public “for granted”.

Sir Ed made the comments as he unveiled the Lib Dems’ new battlebus, Yellow Hammer 1, in Whittlesford, Cambridgeshire, on Sunday.

Asked about his party’s targets in the election, he said: “I’m not putting a ceiling on our ambitions. All I’m doing is talking to voters with my teams across the country, and the Liberal Democrats are getting a great response – a better response than we’ve had for a generation.

“I was elected back in 1997 and this feels to me quite a bit like that.”

08:44 AM BST

Defence minister ruled out return of National Service day after election called

A defence minister ruled out the return of National Service the day after Rishi Sunak called a general election, writes Daniel Martin, our Deputy Political Editor.

Rishi Sunak unveiled a key manifesto pledge at the weekend under which all 18-year-olds would take part in a mandatory scheme for military or non-military service.

But the previous Thursday, a day after the election was called, Andrew Murrison told a Tory MP that they would not introduce National Service in “any form”.

Mr Murrison responded to a written parliamentary question from Mark Pritchard: “To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has made an assessment of the potential impact of the reintroduction of National Service on national security.”

Read the full story here

08:39 AM BST

Young royals face National Service under Sunak’s election plans

Young royals will have to spend a year in the military or volunteer in the community under Conservative plans to revive National Service.

Rishi Sunak made the first major policy announcement of the general election campaign on Sunday, vowing to bring back National Service for 18-year-olds.

He said this would entail either a year on a military placement or spending one weekend of each month volunteering.

More details have now emerged about the scheme, including that there will be very limited exemptions from participation.

The Conservative Party told The Telegraph that this included royal children being expected to take part.

Amy Gibbons, our Political Correspondent, has the story

08:34 AM BST

Analysis: Labour is running a mile from Corbyn - but will it work?

“Jeremy’s in the past now” was the defiant declaration from Labour’s shadow education secretary this morning (see 8:15am post) as the official opposition continues its attempts to exorcise the ghosts of the Jeremy Corbyn years.

Conservative Campaign Headquarters has made much of Sir Keir Starmer serving in Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet as his Brexit secretary, and it is already one of Rishi Sunak’s familiar lines of attack at Prime Minister’s Questions.

But for Sir Keir and Labour, their one-word electoral mantra of “change” aims to represent as much a “changed Labour Party”, as frontbenchers so often put it, as their wider offer to the country.

Mr Corbyn was stripped of the whip by Sir Keir in October 2020, while the Labour leadership has also sought to distance itself from the ‘10 pledges’ which formed the basis of the internal Starmer campaign earlier that year.

The MP for Islington North planning to stand as an independent against his former party nonetheless represents a painful reminder of the past. And Bridget Phillipson insisting Mr Corbyn is “in the past now” indicates it is a worry that still looms large over Labour as the party attempts to convince the public it really has moved on.

08:23 AM BST

Veterans minister praises ‘clear, definitive and bold’ National Service plan

The veterans minister has praised Rishi Sunak’s “clear, definitive and bold” National Service proposals.

Johnny Mercer told the Sun that joining the Army “was the best thing I ever did”, saying: “The best thing you can ever do is join up and serve.”

He added: “I thought when I was fighting in Afghanistan, I came back to a country that had no idea or interest in what you were doing. I think that idea of bringing in a sense of service is incredibly important to society.

“Ordinary, hard-working people [are] quite excited the Government is committed to creating opportunities for young people and driving up their sense of service, values and commitment.”

08:20 AM BST

Tim Stanley: David Cameron is this election’s biggest loser

In one sense, the election is over before it’s begun. The resignation of countless Tory MPs marks a seismic generational change. Not only will the next government be unrecognisable, the opposition will be, too.

The list of those we’ve lost in a brave but doomed campaign reads like a Belgian war memorial: Andrea Leadsom, Brandon Lewis, Theresa May, Paul Scully and, most regrettably, Michael Gove.

Lord Cameron
Lord Cameron on a visit to Albania last week, shortly before Rishi Sunak called the snap election - Ben Dance/FCDO

A couple of Thatcherites have thrown in the towel, too – their late presence in the Tory swamp a throwback that proves there once were dinosaurs. The clever John Redwood; the lovely Bill Cash. Every time we meet, Sir Bill forgets we’ve met before, which means I get the pleasure of meeting him all over again – for he is a true gentleman.

As for the rest, well, “they were the future once”. I paraphrase David Cameron, as it is largely his cohort that’s called time.  Dave is the biggest loser thus far. Rishi only brought him back into government seven months ago; he’s barely mastered the wine list in the Foreign Office restaurant.

Tim Stanley: How authenticity is banishing bland centrism

08:15 AM BST

‘Look, Jeremy’s in the past now’

Jeremy Corbyn is “in the past now”, Labour’s shadow education secretary said.

Mr Corbyn last week announced that he is standing against the party he once led as an independent candidate, presenting a major headache for Sir Keir Starmer.

His decision to run in Islington North risks exacerbating splits between the Labour leadership and the Left wing of the party.

But asked about Mr Corbyn’s candidacy, Bridget Phillipson told Sky News: “Look, Jeremy’s in the past now. He’s not a Labour member, he’s not a Labour candidate. We’ve got a brilliant candidate standing in Islington North who’ll be fighting hard for every vote.

“But our focus right across the country is earning the trust for the British people, securing a Labour government and making the case for the kind of change that we could deliver if we win the next election, such as more teachers, more investment in our NHS, more police on our streets, tackling anti-social behaviour. It really is time for change.”

08:13 AM BST

Labour brands National Service ‘a ridiculous gimmick’

Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary, called the Conservatives’ National Service proposals a “ridiculous gimmick”.

Ms Phillipson noted the Army was at its smallest size in hundreds of years, telling Sky News: “This is not the answer in terms of filling the gaps in our Armed Forces.

“It is incredibly important that we keep our country safe, but with every hour there seems to be a fresh unravelling of this ridiculous gimmick that the Conservatives have set out.”

Challenged on Labour’s own plan, she said there would be a “rapid review of all of the risks our country faces” in the first 100 days, adding that her party did not have the same “access” to information about threats facing Britain at present.

“Our aim is to get towards 2.5 per cent in terms of defence spending, because we’ve seen a hollowing out in the last 14 years.”

08:10 AM BST

Bridget Phillipson: Private schools can ‘learn a lot’ from state schools’ tight budgets

Bridget Phillipson was asked by Sky News whether local state school systems had the capacity to take on pupils leaving private schools, and it was put to her that one city could see 1,000 schoolchildren leave the independent sector.

“I don’t accept we will see that kind of change. That wasn’t the conclusion that the Institute for Fiscal Studies reached.

“But secondly in our state schools we’re actually facing a situation at the moment where we’ve got falling rolls, so we’ve got fewer young people coming through our schools. So we’re actually going to be in the position in the years to come about state schools facing those kind of pressures about whether they’ve got enough students within their classrooms. So I don’t accept that.

“But I do think it’s also just a straightforward case of political priorities. Do we choose to give tax breaks to private schools, or do we invest directly into our state schools which have faced really big challenges in recent years?

“And in fact I would probably just gently say to private schools, there’s probably a lot that they could learn from state schools about how they’ve had to manage a really tight budget in recent years, whereas private schools have whacked up their fees way beyond inflation, putting themselves way out of the reach of middle-class parents who might have in the past considered sending their children to private school.”

08:06 AM BST

Bridget Phillipson: Private school closing because of ‘longstanding issue’

Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary, insisted that the closure of Alton School, a private school in Hampshire, was the result of a “longstanding issue” rather than Labour’s planned VAT raid on the independent sector.

She told Sky News: “Just to be clear in terms of this specific example, the school themselves noted that they’d had falling rolls over many years and they’d not been able to turn that round. So I’m sorry that that’s been the case but this has been a longstanding issue that the individual school has been facing.

“Beyond that, if you look at the work the Institute for Fiscal Studies did, the well-respected independent organisation, they concluded that Labour’s policy would raise £1.3bn to £1.5bn net, and we would invest that directly into state schools.

“We would make sure we’ve got 6,500 more teachers. We know at the moment there’s real pressure and too many children are being taught by non-specialists because of a failure to recruit and retain brilliant teachers... My priority if I were education secretary in a Labour government would be to deliver improved investment directly into our state schools, because that is where the vast majority of our children go to school.”

She also confirmed there would be no rises in income tax or National Insurance if it wins the general election

“We think it’s incredibly important that we give stability to the economy and that’s why our focus will also be on growing the economy so that we have more to invest in our public services too.”

08:01 AM BST

Parents could be fined if children refuse to do National Service, minister suggests

Parents could be fined if their children refuse to do National Service, a minister has suggested.

Rishi Sunak made the first major policy announcement of the general election campaign on Sunday, as he pledged to bring back the scheme for 18-year-olds.

He said this would entail either a year on a military placement or spending one weekend of each month volunteering.

Asked on Times Radio whether parents would face prosecution if their 18-year-olds refuse to sign up, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a Foreign Office minister, said: “I’m not going to write the detailed policy now. That’s what a royal commission programme of works will be for.”

In an interview with Sky News, Ms Trevelyan also implied that while there would be no criminal sanction for those who did not take part in the scheme, it could dent their chances of employment in the future.

“Employers would be clear that they would look to see what you had done. This would become part of the normal toolkit that young people would present as they go through their careers. And I think that’s exciting, so many young people would have the opportunity to do more.”

08:00 AM BST

Good morning

Dominic Penna here, The Telegraph’s Political Correspondent.

Along with my colleague Albert Tait, I will be guiding you through day five of the general election campaign.