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Sunak and Starmer Clash During TV Debate

Word of the week Wednesday, first taste of a live TV debate for Sunak and Starmer, Bank of Canada will make their latest interest rate decision this afternoon, and election sin India.

Word of the Week Wednesday
Parliament: According to the House of Commons, the origins of the term Parliament in the UK go back to 1236. The term comes from the French word parler, meaning to talk and discuss things.

Sunak and Starmer Clash During TV Debate

Yesterday evening, the UK electorate got their first taste of a live TV debate between Rishi Sunak and Kier Starmer. Given the forty-five seconds or so allotted to both party leaders to answer the questions, last night was characteristically underpinned by numerous soundbites. It was also perhaps a reminder of how coverage of UK general elections have taken a format increasingly akin to US Presidential Elections, with ever more emphasis on party leaders under the spotlight. Indeed, according to a snap poll from YouGov, 62% of viewers saw the debate as a “frustrating experience” ahead of 17% who found it “engaging”.

The NHS took centre stage with Sunak coming under particular fire for the state of waiting lists across the country. Labour’s plans to put VAT on private education was also a key topic of the debate, as was the cost of living, immigration and education.

Regarding taxation, the leader’s clashed over Sunak’s disputed accusation that Labour would raise taxes by £2,000, which Starmer appeared slow to refute before rejecting it as a “false readout” and “garbage”.  On this specific issue, according to BBC Verify “The Conservatives say the costings have been worked out by impartial civil servants, but they are based on assumptions made by politically appointed special advisers.”

According to a poll conducted by More in Common and cited by Bloomberg, the UK electorate considers the chances of a Labour government raising taxes as about the same as a Conservative one.

Following the debate, a much-cited YouGov Poll of 1,657 viewers suggested that Sunak was said to have performed better by 51% of respondents compared to 49% who favoured Starmer.

The Poll also suggested that “Viewers were more likely to think that Starmer came across as in touch with ordinary people, likeable, and trustworthy. They were closely split on who seemed more prime ministerial: 43% say Rishi Sunak did, while 40% said it was Keir Starmer.”

Both are now set to go head-to-head in another TV debate on 26 June, with a separate televised debate involving senior figures from seven parties scheduled for Friday.

Bank of Canada Interest Rate Decision

At 1445 this afternoon, attention will turn to Ottawa, where the Bank of Canada will make their latest interest rate decision. Earlier this week, money markets were implying that there was around an 85% chance of a 25bps cut priced in.

While inflation is expected to drop around 3% over H1 2024, the Bank of Canada do not see CPI coming back in line with their 2% target until next year. Hence, persistently elevated inflation has seen them holding their benchmark interest rate at 5% since July 2023. Nevertheless, sluggish growth has put pressure on policy makers to cut rates with GDP expected to expand just 1.5% this year, ahead of 2.2% in 2025.

Indian Elections

In India, the incumbent PM Narendra Modi looks set to remain in office for a third term with his BJP party holding 240 seats.

However, with the BJP party loosing 63 seats, the party cannot now hold an outright majority and will instead look to others in the NDA bloc to maintain power. With the NDA bloc holding a total of 293 seats, above the 272 needed to form a government, the alliance looks set to be in power.

Nevertheless, the INDIA alliance (who surpassed expectations in winning 232 seats) is yet to concede, so all eyes remain on India today for the latest developments.

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