Penny Mordaunt and Angela Rayner locked horns over taxes and Trident tonight as they tore into each other in a seven-way BBC election debate. 

The Labour deputy leader and Tory Commons leader clashed over the Conservatives’ controversial claim that a Labour government would add £2,000 to a family’s annual tax bill.

Ms Rayner slammed her Tory counterpart, saying the claims were ‘lies’ as Ms Mordaunt ploughed on, before they had to be stopped by presenter Mishal Husain.

Ms Mordaunt also goaded her rival over her former opposition to renewing the Trident nuclear deterrent, as Labour tries to present itself as trustable on defence.

‘The cornerstone of our defence is our nuclear deterrent, and you need more than submarines, sailors and warheads to deliver that – you need creditability,’ Ms Mordaunt said.

‘And it’s too late for Labour. Angela Rayner voted along with the guy who wants to be your foreign secretary and half the labour front bench to end our nuclear deterrent.

‘If you are doubting that she or Keir Starmer or David Lammy would use that, imagine what Putin is thinking. Without creditability we become a target and if we become a target, we are less safe. It’s too late for this generation of Labour politicians. That credibility is shot. Do not vote these people in.’

There was also a starring role for Nigel Farage, who blasted Rishi Sunak for his ‘dreadful’ decision to skip a D-day event in Normandy as the PM was savaged in a BBC election debate tonight.

The Reform leader lashed out after the PM apologised for returning to the UK to do a pre-election TV interview instead of staying in Normandy for an event alongside US president Joe Biden.

He also appeared to do a little dance on stage as the cameras rolled at the end of the 90-minute performance. 

And even Ms Mordaunt used her appearance on the debate to admit he had been ‘completely wrong’ to leave commemorations of 80 years since the beginning of the liberation of Europe from Nazi rule.  

The Labour deputy leader and Tory Commons leader clashed over the Conservatives ' controversial claim that a Labour government would add £2,000 to a family's annual tax bill.

The Labour deputy leader and Tory Commons leader clashed over the Conservatives ‘ controversial claim that a Labour government would add £2,000 to a family’s annual tax bill.

Mr Farage kicked off the debate by saying Mr Sunak's decision to return to the UK early was 'dreadful' - and Ms Mordaunt opened her account by saying Mr Sunak has been 'wrong' to do it and had rightly apologised.

Mr Farage kicked off the debate by saying Mr Sunak’s decision to return to the UK early was ‘dreadful’ – and Ms Mordaunt opened her account by saying Mr Sunak has been ‘wrong’ to do it and had rightly apologised.

Penny Mordaunt is representing the Tories tonight

Ms Rayner slammed her Tory counterpart, saying the claims were 'lies' as Ms Mordaunt ploughed on, before they had to be stopped by presenter Mishal Husain.

Ms Rayner slammed her Tory counterpart, saying the claims were ‘lies’ as Ms Mordaunt ploughed on, before they had to be stopped by presenter Mishal Husain. 

    The Portsmouth North MP, a Royal Navy reservist, clashed with Mr Farage as she pleaded with critics not to make the issue a ‘political football’, with the Reform leader saying: ‘It already is, because the veterans themselves are speaking out saying he’s let the country down.’

Her caveated defence of the PM will raise eyebrows as she is talked about as a potential next leader of the Conservatives if Rishi Sunak leads the party to defeat at the election.     

They and Ms Angela Rayner were among seven senior party figures slugging it out on live television, amid a furious row over Rishi Sunak’s decision to skip a D-Day event.

The PM this morning apologised for missing a major international D-Day ceremony and said it was a ‘mistake’ for him to leave before commemoration events were over.

Mr Farage, who was in northern France yesterday in a personal capacity, has questioned why Mr Sunak felt he could skip the event with other world leaders.

The row has overshadowed Tory attempts to get on the front foot with a child benefit announcement amid opinion polls that show the party trailing Labour by a long way, with Mr Farage’s Reform UK breathing down their neck.

Ms Rayner received applause from the audience at the BBC debate as she clashed with Penny Mordaunt over NHS waiting lists and claimed Liz Truss ‘crashed’ the economy.

On reducing healthcare waiting lists, Ms Mordaunt said: ‘There are many things we need to do, but there are two really important things.

‘We have to keep the budget strong. We need a strong economy.’

She continued: ‘Labour’s plans to tax your future pension, senior nurses and doctors, is going to get healthcare professionals to leave the service. That is going to lead to more waiting lists.’

Ms Rayner responded: ‘Penny, that’s rubbish and you’ve just said we need a strong economy – you backed Liz Truss and crashed our economy.’

The studio audience applauded as Ms Rayner added: ‘You made people like me redundant when we were in the homecare service.’

They also clashed over Labour plans for a publicly owned energy firm, Great British Energy. Ms Mordaunt joked: ‘GB Energy – do you know what the GB stands for? Giant bills.’ 

Ms Mordaunt later told the BBC debate audience: ‘Immigration is too high.’

On reducing immigration, she said: ‘The best way to do this is to get Parliament – your parliament, elected by you – to have an annual cap. What that will do is take into account the economic needs, the needs of the workforce, but also the pressures that immigration puts on communities.’

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner replied: ‘The problems with housing, the roads and the GPs and public services is decimation the Tories have done to our public services.’

Ms Mordaunt interjected: ‘Your leader (Sir Keir Starmer) campaigned for free movement.’

Ms Rayner continued: ‘We would scrap the Rwanda scheme. We would put that money into a Border Force Command which would be able to smash the gangs because we need to do that.

‘And 14 years of the Conservatives, they’re relying on overseas to fill our skills shortages because we haven’t got an industrial and skills strategy.’

In the background, Ms Mordaunt said: ‘We’ve got one in place.’  

The row went on for some time, prompting SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn to ask: ‘Can we have a shot?’

When host Mishal Husain managed to get them to stop she went to Green co-leader Carla Denyer, who got laugher and applause when she dryly said: ‘Well that was terribly dignified.’    

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey did not attend, with his deputy Daisy Cooper stepping in instead.

The line-up is was completed by Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s Westminster leader, Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green Party, and Rhun ap Iorwerth of Plaid Cymru.

During the BBC seven-way debate, Ms Mordaunt, the Commons leader said: ‘What happened was completely wrong and the Prime Minister has rightly apologised for that, apologised to veterans but also to all of us, because he was representing all of us.

‘I’m from Portsmouth, I have also been defence secretary and my wish is, at the end of this week, is that all of our veterans feel completely treasured.’

Asked if she would have left D-Day commemorations early, Ms Mordaunt said: ‘I didn’t go to D-Day. I think what happened was very wrong, I think the Prime Minister has apologised for that.

‘But what I also think is important is we honour their legacy, they fought for our freedom, and unless we are spending the right amount on defence we can’t honour that legacy.’

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn added: ‘We need to be standing with our veterans. We need to make sure that our military is fully funded and that we have more people serving, and that we look after them when they become veterans.’

He added: ‘A prime minister who puts his own political career before public service is no prime minister at all.

‘A prime minister who puts his own political career before Normandy war veterans is no prime minister at all.

‘So it’s incumbent upon all of us to do our national service and vote the Tories out of office.’ 

Elsewhere, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner clashed with Ms Mordaunt after she continued to repeat a claim made by the Prime Minister that Labour would raise taxes by £2,000.

The figure has been criticised, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accusing Rishi Sunak of lying about how the sum was calculated.

Ms Mordaunt told the audience: ‘Angela Rayner’s party – Keir Starmer confirmed this earlier this week – they are going to put up your taxes by £2000 per working household.’

Ms Rayner replied ‘that is a lie’, adding that the Government has raised taxes to a ‘record level’.

The pair then began to shout over each other before BBC presenter Mishal Hussain cut them off.

‘That was terribly dignified wasn’t it’, Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer then said.

Earlier, the pair clashed over NHS waiting lists which led to Ms Rayner receiving applause after she claimed former prime minister Liz Truss ‘crashed’ the economy.

On reducing healthcare waiting lists, Ms Mordaunt said: ‘There are many things we need to do but there are two really important things.

‘We have to keep the budget strong. We need a strong economy.’

She continued: ‘Labour’s plans to tax your future pension, senior nurses and doctors, is going to get healthcare professionals to leave the service. That is going to lead to more waiting lists.’

Ms Rayner responded: ‘Penny, that’s rubbish and you’ve just said we need a strong economy – you backed Liz Truss and crashed our economy.’

The studio audience applauded as Ms Rayner added: ‘You made people like me redundant when we were in the homecare service.’     

Mr Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will go head-to-head on the BBC on June 26, in what is expected to be the final TV debate before polling day.

Earlier this week, viewing figures showed millions of Britons snubbed Tuesday night’s first showdown between the PM and Sir Keir on primetime ITV.

The programme was watched by an average of just 4.8million viewers, with a peak of 5.2million viewers.

This was down from the average audience of 6.7million for the ITV debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn during the 2019 general election.

A YouGov snap poll revealed nearly two-thirds who did watch the clash between Mr Sunak and Sir Keir branded it ‘frustrating’. 

The debate saw both party leaders repeatedly speak over each other during tetchy exchanges, as ITV host Julie Etchingham struggled to rein them in.

Mr Farage channelled Eminem as he gloated that the TV head-to-head between Mr Sunak and Sir Keir ‘felt so empty without me’.

In a social media post after the debate had ended, the newly-installed Reform UK leader shared a video of himself on the general election campaign trail.

The footage was set to the Eminem song ‘Without Me’, which includes the lyrics: ‘Now this looks like a job for me, so everybody just follow me, because we need a little controversy, because it feels so empty without me.’

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