The election moments Sunak and Starmer don’t want you talking about today

A leaked Tory memo criticising MPs; a Conservative MP backing Reform; and Labour's ongoing saga with Diane Abbott are the issues the two leaders want ignore.

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer on the campaign trail on Monday. (Getty Images)
Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer on the campaign trail on Monday. (Getty Images)

There are 37 days until the general election and the leaders of the Conservatives and Labour are keen to get people talking about their plan for the country, but there are one or two things they would rather the public wouldn't talk about.

Rishi Sunak's proposed national service for all 18-year-olds continues to be a talking point after dividing opinion.

But there have been plenty of other developments as we come to the first full week of campaigning.

As Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer try to woo voters after the bank holiday, Yahoo News UK breaks down what the two leaders want you to be talking about today - and what they don't.

Sunak announced on Tuesday that from April next year, the income tax personal allowance for pensioners will be increased in line with the triple lock under his government. This means both the state pension and pensioners’ tax-free allowance will always rise in line with whatever is highest out of earnings, wages or 2.5%.

The Tories have said it would be worth about £100 next year, and this would grow over time.

Read more: Pensioners would get a £2.4bn income tax break under the Tories (PA Media)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (centre) during his visit to Amersham and Chiltern RFC, while on the General Election campaign trail. Picture date: Monday May 27, 2024. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
Rishi Sunak during his visit to Amersham and Chiltern RFC on Monday. (PA Images via Getty Images)

Tory MP backs Reform UK

The prime minister was embarrassed by an outgoing Tory MP backing Reform UK for the seat she is vacating.

Telford MP Lucy Allan said Reform’s Alan Adams would offer an alternative to “more of the same politics and more of the same politicians”. The Tories responded by suspending her, but Allan claimed she had already resigned. Telford has been a marginal seat in the past.

Read more: Tory MP Lucy Allan endorsing Reform is ‘vindication’, says leader Richard Tice (The Independent)

Leaked memo criticises Tory MPs

A leaked Conservative Party memo accused its MPs of going on holiday, refusing to knock on doors and focusing on ministerial responsibilities rather than the election effort.

The memo - obtained by The Times after it was accidentally emailed to the Tory MPs it was criticising - said a “key theme” was candidates failing to “get behind” the campaign after Sunak surprised Westminster last week by calling the July election.

Speaking to ITV News yesterday Sunak said he took responsibility for his campaign but that he had enjoyed the past few days.

Read more: A Minister Has Gone On Holiday Days Into Rishi Sunak's Struggling Election Campaign (HuffPost)

Farage immigration challenge

Nigel Farage, the face of Reform UK, has challenged Sunak to a debate on immigration. In an article for The Telegraph, Farage - who is not standing in the election - wrote: "It looks like immigration, legal and illegal, will dominate this general election campaign... I challenge him to debate with me on this issue. If he refuses, that will confirm the fact that Sunak can’t stop the boats."

Immigration is a sore point for the Tories. Small boat crossings over the English Channel have exceeded 10,000 this year, while legal net migraton was 685,000 last year, more than three times higher than at the last election.

Read more: I warned about illegal migration when it was a trickle – years of failure have turned it into a flood (Nigel Farage in The Telegraph)

British eurosceptic populist Nigel Farage speaks during the
Nigel Farage has challenged Rishi Sunak to a debate on immigration. (AFP via Getty Images)

Business leaders back Labour

In an election where the economy is one of the most important issues, Starmer has received a boost with the endorsement of 120 business leaders. A letter, sent to The Times, was signed by past and present leaders of companies ranging from Heathrow Airport to Iceland.

It said the economy under the Tories has been “beset by instability, stagnation and a lack of long-term focus” and that the election represents “the chance to change the country”. It comes as shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves promised Labour will be pro-business and pro-worker in her first major election speech on Tuesday.

Read more: More than 100 business leaders back Labour (Reuters)

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (left) meets Tom Rutland, the Labour candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham after delivering a speech to supporters in Lancing, West Sussex, while on the General Election campaign trail. Picture date: Monday May 27, 2024. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Sir Keir Starmer on the campaign trail in Lancing on Monday. (PA Images via Getty Images)

Diane Abbott saga

The BBC reported Labour’s investigation into suspended MP Diane Abbott finished five months ago, and that she still hasn’t been told if she can stand for the party in the election. Starmer had said on Friday that it would be resolved “in a few days’ time”.

Abbott, the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, had the whip withdrawn in April last year after writing a letter to The Observer newspaper in which she said Irish and Jewish people and Travellers experience prejudice but not racism, describing their position as akin to redheads.

Read more: Keir Starmer sets 4 June deadline for Diane Abbott investigation (The Independent)

David Lammy and national service

Ex-Tory leader and former minister Lord William Hague was on hand to remind readers of his Times column that David Lammy, who is part of Starmer’s top team as shadow foreign secretary, has previously backed mandatory non-military service in his 2020 book Tribes.

Hague, a Sunak backer, quoted Lammy as saying: “If done correctly, it would allow us to break down the divides that are entrenched in modern society. Women and men, black or white, poor or rich, from Tottenham or Torquay, would mix as equals.”

Sunak has expressed similar sentiment in defending the policy, saying it would make society “more cohesive”. Starmer, on the other hand, has derided the idea as a “teenage Dad’s Army”.

Read more: Will Sunak's national service create a divide between the generations? (Yahoo News UK)