Saturday 14 December 2019
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The News - 24 days ago

British PM, Labour leader face off in first election debate

LONDON: Britain s Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn go head-to-head Tuesday in their first TV debate of the election campaign, facing scrutiny over their plans for Brexit and more public spending.Johnson, who took over as the leader of the governing Conservatives in July, has held a double-digit lead over Labour in opinion polls for weeks, making the December 12 election his to lose. Corbyn meanwhile is seeking to repeat the success of the last election in 2017, when his promise to end austerity and deliver change for the many, not the few fired up voters and denied the Tories an outright win. It is the first time leaders of Britain s two main parties have faced each other head-to-head on TV, with previous debates having also involved other smaller parties leaders.Johnson and Corbyn have sparred only a handful of times in parliament, making the prime-time debate broadcast on ITV at 8:00 pm (2000 GMT) a rare opportunity to see how they engage up close, with the potential for a game-changing moment in the election.Johnson fired the starting gun with a letter to Corbyn overnight, questioning his plans for Britain s looming departure from the European Union. The Conservatives are campaigning on a pledge to get Brexit done , promising to end years of political disagreements and several delays by leaving the EU on January 31.Corbyn says he will renegotiate Johnson s exit deal and hold another referendum, appealing to around half of Britons who still oppose the result of the 2016 Brexit vote. But the Labour leader has yet to say how he would campaign in that referendum, and Johnson warned in his letter that he offered only more dither and delay . On a visit to a boxing gym near the northwestern city of Manchester on Tuesday, the premier sparred in the ring wearing blue gloves emblazoned with the words Get Brexit Done and said he was excited about the fight with Corbyn.

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