Election 2024: Leaders ramp up attacks as frantic final days of campaigning begin

Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak are set to begin a frantic final few days of campaigning as polling day rapidly approaches.

Both men will today reiterate their core messages as they try to motivate their backers to get out to the polling booths on Thursday.

The Labour leader will impress on the nation that if they want change they "have to vote for it" - while the Conservative leader will warn there are "four days to save Britain from a Labour government".

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Mr Sunak has suggested that Labour are on track for a "supermajority", with the opposition having managed to maintain a roughly 20-point lead in the opinion polls, according to the Sky News Poll Tracker - something Sir Keir will do everything to ensure does not change.

The Liberal Democrats are set to continue their push to replace the Tories in seats that have traditionally been considered their heartlands - while the SNP will try to convince Scots to back them as polls show Labour could become the largest Scottish parliamentary contingent once again.

Mr Sunak is set to campaign in the Midlands today, where he will warn against giving "Keir Starmer and Labour a blank cheque".

Speaking at a rally later, the prime minister will say of Labour: "If they get the kind of majority, the supermajority that the polls suggest, they will set about entrenching themselves in power.

"They will rewrite the rules to make it easier for them to stay in office and harder for anyone to replace them. So, don't surrender your voice to Labour on Thursday."

Seemingly in a bid to limit the scale of the defeat, rather than emerge victorious, the Tory leader will say that "an unchecked Labour government would be a disaster from which it would take decades to recover".

"We Conservatives will stand up for you and make sure your voice is heard, your values represented."

The Conservative Party is also claiming today that Labour's immigration plans will result in a "deluge" of asylum seekers, leading to tax hikes of £635 per family each year - something a Labour spokesperson has branded a "ludicrous lie from an increasingly desperate Tory party".

The opposition claimed the Tories have "completely lost control of the asylum system or border security" and if they are re-elected "the chaos will continue and costs will soar further".

Labour win 'not inevitable' - Starmer

Labour will also vow to ensure petty theft is punished by scrapping a rule allowing people stealing goods worth under £200 to escape punishment, it is understood.

More broadly, the party will continue to make the wider case for change, with national campaign coordinator Pat McFadden saying: "If people don't want to wake up on 5 July to five more years of economic chaos, to wake up knowing that all the future offers is the same as the recent Tory past, then they have to vote Labour and vote for change on Thursday."

Sir Keir Starmer also hammered home that message in an interview with The Guardian, saying: "People talk about the inevitable outcome. It isn't inevitable. I think there's a yearning for change. But, you know, what we always say, if you want change, you have to vote for it."

He also told the paper "hope has been kicked out of many people" because of the Tories' failure to deliver, adding: "There's a near universal view that almost everything is broken, and we're going backwards as a country. That's very demoralising.

"They've also had to witness the politics of self-entitlement and self-enhancement from Westminster... I'm not surprised that people feel disaffected by politics. But we do have to restore it."

The Labour leader gave the interview before exit polls showed the far right in the lead after the first round of voting in the French parliamentary elections, but he nonetheless warned against "the rise of populism and nationalism".

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Sir Keir expressed concern about the rise in support for the populist right across Europe, and for Reform in the UK.

"You have to understand why that's happening," he said. "It's based in this disaffection, this sense that politics cannot be a force for good, and you can't trust politicians."

He argued that progressive parties and governments could restore faith, however, saying: "That goes back to credible hope, deliverable hope, making the change that will be material for people's lives."

Lib Dems on bereavement payment cuts

First minister John Swinney will also be out on the campaign trail today, reiterating his core message that Scots need an "alternative" to Labour in Westminster to "represent Scotland's values".

The SNP leader said in a statement that the general election in England is a "foregone conclusion", with a Labour win on the cards, and claimed Sir Keir Starmer would "carry on with the same broken politics and right-wing policies as the Tories".

He is arguing that the result in Scotland is on a "knife edge" - despite polls showing Labour in the lead - and that Sir Keir "simply represents more of the same broken Brexit Britain that does not reflect Scotland's values".

"The SNP is offering an alternative - a vision of hope with an end to austerity, rejoining the EU, eradicating child poverty and a future made in Scotland, for Scotland where Scotland's interests are always put first," said Mr Swinney.

"The only way to deliver that and put an end to the failure of Brexit which has caused so much damage to Scotland is to vote SNP on Thursday.

"Only the SNP offers Scotland the hope of a better future back in the EU - but we have to vote for it."

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Sir Ed Davey and the Liberal Democrats will be continuing their bid to take seats off the Tories - and are promoting a pledge they launched yesterday to reverse "heartless Tory cuts" to bereavement payments.

On the latter as it stands, a bereaved family where a spouse or partner has died receives a lump sum of up to £3,500, followed by a monthly payment of up to £350 for 18 months.

The party is calling for this period to be extended, and is pledging to inject an additional £440m a year into the system by 2028-29 to fund it.

'Labour could take Wales for granted'

Plaid Cymru will be making their case to voters in Wales, arguing that the Welsh people will be "voiceless" if they do not have a "strong cohort" of MPs in Westminster.

The party's leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth, said Wales "simply doesn't feature" in Tory and Labour electoral plans, while his party would push for "fair funding deal for Wales".

"When people vote on Thursday, they expect their MP to speak up for them and their community, not to follow the Westminster whip at any cost," a statement said.

"We know that the Tories are finished and the contempt they show Wales is nothing new - but with Labour set to enter Downing Street on Friday, there is a real danger that they will simply take Wales for granted."

He added: "For a member of parliament who will always give Wales a voice in Westminster, who will always champion fairness and stand up against more cuts which have already devastated our public services, vote Plaid Cymru on 4 July."

Reform UK will also be on the campaign trail as the party tries to stabilise its campaign following racism allegations.

Yesterday, one of the party's candidates disowned them and backed the Tories, saying he had become "increasingly disillusioned" with the behaviour of the party and accused leader Nigel Farage of not taking it seriously.

It followed the controversy over a Reform canvasser who was caught making a racial slur about the prime minister in an undercover investigation.

Reform UK has also had to drop several election candidates because of racist remarks they have made.