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Johnson, Corbyn clash in first UK general election debate

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed he will agree a new trade deal with the Eur...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.10 19 Nov 2019


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Johnson, Corbyn clash in first...

Johnson, Corbyn clash in first UK general election debate

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.10 19 Nov 2019


Share this article


The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed he will agree a new trade deal with the European Union by the end of next year if he wins the UK general election next month.

He has gone head to head with UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the first live TV debate of the campaign there.

Mr Corbyn, meanwhile, promised to deliver on the results of a second EU referendum if his party wins.

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Mr Johnson said he has a deal supported by all Conservative Party candidates - and will reach a trade agreement with the EU by the end of next year.

"We have ample time to do a fantastic free trade deal with our friends and partners in the EU because we're already in a state of perfect alignment - both for tariffs and for quotas".

Mr Corbyn said he would hold a second EU referendum within six months of forming a Labour government.

"Our government will abide by that result - I will carry out the result of that referendum.

"There will be a genuine choice put before the people of Britain to make their decision, and we will carry it out".

Mr Johnson made clear that he believed Britain's future relationship with the EU could be sorted out by the end of 2020 - and warned of more "dither and delay" under Labour.

Mr Corbyn said Mr Johnson's claim that he can "get Brexit done" by the end of January was "nonsense".

"What he is proposing is a trade deal which will take at least seven years to negotiate whilst at the same time saying he will negotiate a special trade deal with the European Union.

"The two things are actually incompatible."

Mr Johnson claimed his Brexit deal will allow the whole of the UK to come out of the EU, adding: "Northern Ireland is part of the customs territory of the UK. It's there in black and white."

Scotland was also up for discussion, with Mr Corbyn suggesting said it was "nonsense" that there would be coalition between him and the Scottish National Party (SNP) - adding that "there would be no support for a Scottish referendum in the early years of the next Labour government".

Mr Johnson responded: "I listened very carefully as I always do to Mr Corbyn - I didn't hear him say he was going to rule out a referendum on Scotland. Did you?"

The two men also clashed angrily over the UK's National Health Service (NHS).

Mr Johnson said Mr Corbyn's claim that the health service would be on the table in post-Brexit trade talks with the US was an "absolute invention" and "completely untrue".

Mr Corbyn accused Mr Johnson of conducting "secret meetings" with Washington about the NHS and a future trade deal - and produced heavily redacted papers to suggest the government was not being open with the public.

He said: "What we know of what Mr Johnson has done is a series of secret meetings with the United States in which they were proposing to open up our NHS markets, as they call them, to American companies."

Responding, Mr Johnson said: "This is 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."

One of the audience questions was about the "nastiness in politics" that has been seen recently.

The two leaders were asked by ITV host Julie Etchingham to "make a pledge" towards one another, prompting the pair to shake hands.

Asked if the truth mattered in the election, Mr Johnson said: "I think it does," a remark that prompted laughter in the audience.

But laughter could also be heard from some in the audience as Mr Corbyn sought to explain his Brexit position.

Additional reporting: IRN


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Boris Johnson Brexit Conservative Party General Election Debate ITV Debate Jeremy Corbyn Labour Leader Referendum Trade Deal

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