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Nigel Farage won seven-party BBC debate, according to viewer poll

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage (left) and leader of Plaid Cymru Rhun ap Iorwerth take part in the BBC Election Debate (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage (left) and leader of Plaid Cymru Rhun ap Iorwerth take part in the BBC Election Debate (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Reform UK’s Nigel Farage won the BBC’s seven-party BBC debate on Friday night, according to a snap viewer poll.

The line-up featured Penny Mordaunt, the Conservative Leader of the House of Commons, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner, Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorwerth, Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer and Mr Farage.

The politicians clashed over D-Day and support for war veterans, immigration and the state of the NHS.

The poll, conducted by researchers More In Common, asked more than 1,000 viewers who won the debate with 25% of those surveyed opting for Mr Farage. Among those who voted Conservative in 2019, 47% placed the Reform leader at the top of the pile.

Ms Rayner was favoured by 19% of the respondents, while 14% said there was no winner. Just 7% of those surveyed said Ms Mordaunt was the winner of the debate.

Mr Farage focused on immigration and crime throughout the debate, at one point claiming he was “on a platform tonight with six other people whose parties have been wholly unconcerned” with immigration.

Mr Flynn said voters had been “led down the garden path by the right wing in British politics for far too long. We need to stand against it, we need to promote our economy, promote our public services, and do so by promoting migration”.

In response to Mr Farage saying he wanted to inject some “logic” into the discussion, Mr Flynn replied: “That would be a novelty for you.”

General Election campaign 2024
Ms Rayner (left) and Ms Mordaunt during the BBC Election debate (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Reform UK leader said later in the debate “you can go shoplifting now, any of you”, advocating for more stop and search powers while answering a question about crime allegedly rising in England and Wales by 8% since 2019.

“You can go out and nick up to 200 quid’s worth without being prosecuted,” he said. “We are seeing a decline, a societal decline of law and order in this country and, frankly, government and the police forces are being too scared of what needs to be done.”

Mr Farage urged voters to “join the revolt” in his closing statement.

During the debate, Ms Mordaunt said the Prime Minister’s decision to leave the D-Day 80th anniversary events early to record a General Election campaign TV interview was “completely wrong”.

Ms Mordaunt, a Navy reservist, said it was right that Rishi Sunak apologised not only to veterans but to the public, although she added it should not become “a political football”.

General Election campaign 2024
The poll found most politicians did well in the debate (Stefan Rousseau/PA_

“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,” she said.

The poll found viewers thought Mr Flynn, Ms Denyer and Ms Cooper did well in the debate, with Ms Mordaunt the only participant considered to have done more of a bad job than a good one.

But the poll found viewers are more than twice as likely to think she would make a better Prime Minister than Rishi Sunak, although the majority said they do not know who they would prefer as Prime Minister.