Nicola Sturgeon, SNP
Sturgeon was the most accomplished debater, relaxed and in control. She got one of the rare laughs from the audience as she icily cut into a question from Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat leader, to Richard Burgon, the Labour representative, asking whether he thought a better deal could be negotiated than remaining in the EU. “No,” Sturgeon said. “No. There is no deal better than staying in the EU.”
Richard Burgon, Labour
Burgon started off a bit hesitantly when attacked over Labour’s policy on sentencing and the party’s Brexit position, but he warmed up with a series of strong attacks on the Tories over their threat to the NHS. He also delivered a zinger against Nigel Farage when calling him out for demanding independence when there is “nothing independent about taking instruction from Donald Trump when he rings up LBC”.
Adam Price, Plaid Cymru
Price came into his own when he attacked Farage for his defence of Trump. He stated it was never acceptable for someone to boast of “grabbing women by the pussy” and said he was offended as a gay man by Boris Johnson’s comments about “bumboys in tank tops”. “Neither Trump or Boris Johnson are fit to be in public life,” he said.
Jo Swinson, Lib Dem leader
Swinson delivered the strongest opening statement, saying Johnson “can’t be bothered to talk to you tonight and is leaving it to his cheerleader”. She said the prime minister “picks on people weaker than himself” and stokes divisions. However, her performance in the debate was somehow flatter than on Friday night, when she made a strong appearance on the BBC seven-way debate.
Siân Berry, Green leader
Berry delivered a necessary message about tackling the climate emergency but she struggled to get airtime amid louder voices jostling for attention.
Rishi Sunak, Conservative
Cheesy and wooden, Sunak did not make any major slip-ups but he struggled to cut through and his lines all sounded precooked. However, the Conservatives are likely to be relieved that he got through the two hours without incident while delivering the key campaign messages.
Nigel Farage, Brexit party
The Brexit party leader had a clear run at attacking both the Conservatives and Labour for being “weak on sentencing”. He delivered populist lines about wanting to bang up terrorists for life, and blaming the “liberal elite” and “political correctness” for terrorists being released halfway through their sentences, without much direct challenge from the other parties. Farage has been delivering such rightwing stump speeches for decades and his confidence showed. But he came unstuck defending Trump, saying some of his sexist comments are the kind of thing men say “after a night out with a drink”.
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