Laughter and jeers from audience to both party leaders during televised head-to-head debate

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Little was learned from a head-to-head debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn on Tuesday, as laughter and jeering from the audience for both leaders dominated the ITV show.

Mr Corbyn dismissed Mr Johnson’s pledge to “get Brexit done” by the end of January as “nonsense”.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn in the studio prior to tonight's election head-to-head debate on ITV. Photo: ITV/PA Wire

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn in the studio prior to tonight's election head-to-head debate on ITV. Photo: ITV/PA Wire

While the Prime Minister warned the UK faced more “dither and delay” under a Labour government.

However neither party leader revealed anything which had not been previously said, and both stuck mainly to lines the public will have heard many times over on the NHS and austerity.

Instead Mr Corbyn was greeted with laughter when he spoke on Labour’s policy to introduce a four-day week, while Mr Johnson got the same treatment when he said the truth was important to him.

Speaking afterwards Leeds East Labour hopeful Richard Burgon, said he was not worried about the audience laughing at his party leader.

Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, and newscaster Julie Etchingham in the studio prior to tonight's election head-to-head debate on ITV. Photo: ITV/PA Wire

Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, and newscaster Julie Etchingham in the studio prior to tonight's election head-to-head debate on ITV. Photo: ITV/PA Wire

He said: "That didn't worry me at all. What I think was worrying was Boris Johnson's inability to answer a straight question, or rather, not inability, but his decision not to answer questions straight."

While Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: "Trust in British politicians is not particularly high but what they do want to see is what you do, what you are capable of delivering.

"[Mr Johnson] has shown in three months that he got the deal that no-one said could be delivered, everyone said it was impossible - he proved the doubters wrong."

Mr Johnson said a vote for the Conservatives would be a vote to finally “get Brexit done”.

Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, and newscaster Julie Etchingham in the studio prior to tonight's election head-to-head debate on ITV. Photo: ITV/PA Wire

Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, and newscaster Julie Etchingham in the studio prior to tonight's election head-to-head debate on ITV. Photo: ITV/PA Wire

But Mr Corbyn retorted that he could not deliver on what he was promising.

“That idea that the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’ deal can be dealt with and finished by the end of January is such nonsense,” he said.

Mr Corbyn defended Labour's strategy to negotiate a new deal with the EU within three months of taking office and then put it to voters in a referendum within six months.
However he was taunted by Mr Johnson over his refusal to say which way he would vote, saying: "Are you going to campaign for Leave or Remain?"

The Labour leader hit back accusing him of conducting secret meetings with the US about opening up the NHS to American companies in a future trade deal.

Mr Johnson, however, said the claim was "an absolute invention".

"It is completely untrue. There are no circumstances whatever in which this Government or any Conservative government will put the NHS on the table in any trade negotiation," he said

Both were asked about their personal character. Directed to answer about anti-Semitism complaints against the Labour Party, Mr Corbyn said: “Anti-Semitism is an absolute evil and scourge within our society.

“Racism in any form is a scourge in our society. I have taken action in my party where anyone who has committed any anti-Semitic acts or made any anti-Semitic statements, they either suspended or expelled from the party and investigated every single case. We do take this very, very seriously indeed.”

When asked about “telling the truth in politics”, Mr Johnson attacked Mr Corbyn’s leadership and said: “It’s a complete failure of leadership what’s happened with anti-Semitism. But the failure of leadership is even worse when you look at what is happening on their Brexit policy.”

One of the questions from the audience came from a woman named Sue from Leeds, who asked if the monarchy was fit for purpose, Mr Corbyn replied: “Needs a bit of improvement.”
Mr Johnson said: “The institution of the monarchy is beyond reproach.”

Asked if the Duke of York is fit for purpose, Mr Corbyn said: “Before we discuss Prince Andrew I think we should discuss the victims that are there because of what (Jeffrey) Epstein was doing.”

Mr Johnson said “all our sympathies” should be with the victims of Epstein, adding: “The law must certainly take its course.”

Meanwhile the Conservative Party faced criticism after one of its official Twitter accounts was rebranded as a fact checking service during the debate.

The Conservative Campaign Headquarters press office account was renamed "factcheckUK" during Tuesday evening's ITV broadcast, offering commentary on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's statements and retweeting messages supporting Boris Johnson.

The move was criticised by independent fact-checking charity Full Fact, which tweeted: "It is inappropriate and misleading for the Conservative press office to rename their twitter account 'factcheckUK' during this debate. Please do not mistake it for an independent fact checking service such as @FullFact, @FactCheck or @FactCheckNI"

The @CCHQpress account is verified by Twitter, displaying a blue tick which is intended to denote that a user is genuine.

The Liberal Democrat press office posted an image suggesting they were reporting the account to Twitter for "pretending to be me or someone else".

They tweeted: "And people wonder why trust in politics has been eroded @CCHQPress"

Labour's David Lammy tweeted: "The Conservative Party press office @CCHQPress rebranding themselves as 'FactCheckUK' shows what disdain this party and this government has for the truth."

"The Electoral Commission must investigate and punish this blatant attempt to decieve the public."

Some other Twitter users also changed their display names to factcheckUK and posted critical comments about Mr Johnson.

Others changed their display name CCHQ Press Office, while Tony Blair's former spokesperson Alastair Campbell changed his display name to Boris Johnson and tweeted: "I won't get Brexit done #FactCheck"

The Conservative Party has been contacted for comment.