When is the first Sunak-Starmer election debate?

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer are scheduled to take part in two head-to-head TV debates

Matt Mathers
Wednesday 29 May 2024 11:22 BST
Related video: Starmer responds to Sunak’s call for live TV election debate

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


With the clock ticking down to the general election on 4 July, the major parties are facing a race to win over voters before polling day.

The Conservatives and Labour have been battling it out on issues such as the economy, immigration and national security so far and the parties’ leaders, Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer, are also set to square off in TV debates.

ITV announced on Wednesday that the first head-to-head general election debate between the pair will take place on ITV1, ITVX and STV and STV Player on Tuesday 4th June at 9pm.

The hour-long debate, Sunak v Starmer: The ITV Debate, will be moderated by Julie Etchingham. It will take place live in front of a studio audience and will be made and produced by MultiStory Media, part of ITV Studios.

Sunak and Starmer will take part in two televised debates
Sunak and Starmer will take part in two televised debates (PA)

Mr Sunak had been hoping to debate his opposite number on a weekly basis in the hope that he could narrow Labour’s double-digit lead in the polls.

The Conservatives believe Mr Sunak will perform well in a televised showdown with the Labour leader.

And No 10 was also keen to try to turn the focus on to Labour’s policies during this election campaign.

Broadcasters are currently scrambling to organised the second of the debates,  which have been a key fixture of election campaigns after former Conservative prime minister David Cameron agreed to the first one in 2010.

However, they face the added challenge of trying to avoid a deluge of international football matches with 8pm kick-offs as the Euros football tournament gets underway in the middle of next month.

One senior source at a national broadcaster told The Independent it was “tricky – but we will make it work”.

Key days to avoid will be June 16, 20 and 25 – England’s group matches - and 14, 19 and 23, when Scotland plays its group matches.

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