Election debate: the night’s winners and losers

Good night

Jo Swinson
The Liberal Democrat leader appeared more laid-back and confident, and had some better lines, than in last week’s Question Time event.

On Brexit, she said: “We’re in episode one of a 10-season box set, and if you don’t like what you’ve seen so far, you don’t have to watch the rest.”

Caroline Lucas
The Greens can sometimes struggle to get their voice heard during the campaign, and Lucas used her platform well.

In particular, she skewered Boris Johnson’s claim that he will “get Brexit done” in the new year, kicking off the debate by arguing: “His oven-ready meal is made of chlorinated chicken and it will make us all sick. And when we arrive at the hospital, we’ll find it has been flogged off to Trump’s America.”

Rebecca Long-Bailey
This was an important outing for Long-Bailey, who is widely seen as a potential Labour leadership candidate.

She put in a combative performance – in particular challenging Rishi Sunak, representing the Tories, when he said the last Labour government had crashed the economy. “We suffered a world banking crisis: your chancellor was working at Deutsche Bank, selling the very derivatives that caused the crash in the first place,” she said.

And she challenged his claims about the impact of Labour’s plans, calling them “fabrications” and retorting: “I haven’t seen any costings from your party whatsoever.”

Nicola Sturgeon
Sturgeon is always a poised performer, and this was no exception. She calmly and repeatedly took on Richard Tice of the Brexit party, telling him: “We don’t trust you,” and insisted firmly she wouldn’t ever use a nuclear weapon.

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Asked what she’d say to Donald Trump she said simply: “Please stand down.”

Adam Price
The Plaid Cymru leader adopted a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone about the shortcomings of the national debate in 2019. “No wonder people are turning off politics,” he said, criticising “the level of rancour in the debate”.

But he won one of the few cheers of the evening when he said his message to Trump would be: “Resign, and take Boris with you!”

Bad night

Richard Tice
Tice lacks Nigel Farage’s charisma, and it’s hard for the Brexit party to find its role since acknowledging that a majority Conservative government would be an acceptable election outcome.

He clashed with Sturgeon, telling her: “I don’t trust you because you don’t trust democracy,” and appeared petulant when the panel were discussing the challenges of negotiating a trade deal, saying: “Why not ask me? I’m a businessman. I’ve negotiated deals over three decades.”

Rishi Sunak
It wasn’t so much a bad night as a boring one for the chief secretary to the Treasury (which Conservative HQ won’t have minded one bit).

He’s a very safe pair of hands, who repeatedly pressed home his party’s central message – that it is imperative to “get Brexit done” – though he did chuck in a few anecdotes about his pharmacist mum and his eco-warrior daughter. “We all want to move on, and with your support, we can do exactly that,” he said. His message to Trump would be, he said, “Happy Thanksgiving”.


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