Election campaign day 39: PM defiant as Farage loses candidate over racism row

Rishi Sunak struck a defiant tone despite polls pointing to a Labour landslide, while a Reform UK candidate stood down and backed the Conservatives over the racism row engulfing the party.

– Switching sides

Nigel Farage insisted “the bad apples are gone” from Reform UK after a series of candidates and canvassers were criticised for alleged comments they made.

But one candidate with whom that message appeared to fall flat was Liam Booth-Isherwood, who had been standing in Erewash and said there had been a “failure of leadership” over the accusations of racism.

He said he would instead be endorsing the Tory contender Maggie Throup to “stop Labour”.

Reform has confirmed it has dropped support for candidates Leslie Lilley in Southend East and Rochford; Edward Oakenfull in Derbyshire Dales; and Robert Lomas in Barnsley North.

– The Sun’s the limit

Labour was happy with the endorsement it garnered from the Sunday Times this weekend.

The paper joined the Sunday Mirror, the Independent and the Observer in backing Sir Keir Starmer’s party, while the Mail on Sunday and the Telegraph used their editorials to throw support behind the Tories.

But Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator Pat McFadden said he had his sights set on further endorsements.

“I would like The Sun to endorse us,” he told LBC.

– I think I’ll be Prime Minister on Friday

Mr Sunak insisted he believed the Tories could still win the General Election – despite Labour enjoying a sustained double-digit lead in the polls – during a testy interview on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show.

He defended the Conservative record in government, claiming the UK is a better place to live now than it was in 2010, when the party came to power.

It was put to him that Britain has become poorer by many measures over the past 14 years the Conservatives have been in power, and that public services are deteriorating.

“I just don’t accept that,” Mr Sunak replied.

“Our schoolchildren are now the best readers in the western world.”

Asked whether he thought he would still be in Downing Street after the election next week, Mr Sunak said: “Yes. I’m fighting very hard and I think people are waking up to the real danger of what a Labour government means.”

– Picture of the day

General Election campaign 2024
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a visit to a bakery in Golders Green, north-west London (James Manning/PA)

Mr Sunak, a self-confessed sugar fiend, looked pleased at the offerings on display as he visited a bakery in Golders Green, north-west London, on the campaign trail on Sunday.

– Social media moment of the day

The Labour Party shared a video clip to X, formerly Twitter, to illustrate the last 14 years of the Conservative government.

The video, which had circus music playing over the top, showed 14 small images of things that rhyme with the word year – such as 14 ears, 14 pints of beer, 14 deer and 14 photos of Sir Keir and William Shakespeare.

To represent the last 14 years of the Tories, the clip ended with six small photos of Lord David Cameron, three of Theresa May, three-and-a-half of Boris Johnson, a third of a photo of Liz Truss and one-and-a-half of Rishi Sunak.

– What’s happening tomorrow?

The Prime Minister will take the Tories’ message to the Midlands, while Sir Keir and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey will be campaigning in different parts of the south east of England.

SNP leader and Scottish First Minister John Swinney will be out in the north east of the country on Monday, promising the hope of a better future with the EU.