General election - latest: Tories suspend candidates Craig Williams and Laura Saunders over betting scandal

The betting scandal continues to overshadow the general election campaign trail, with the Conservative party suspending the two candidates being investigated by the Gambling Commission.

Alleged bets on the date of the general election, placed before Rishi Sunak made his announcement, are being looked at by the commission.

Nearly two weeks after the scandal first broke, Rishi Sunak has withdrawn support for two candidates.

A party spokesperson said this morning: “As a result of ongoing internal enquiries, we have concluded that we can no longer support Craig Williams or Laura Saunders as parliamentary candidates at the forthcoming general election.

“We have checked with the Gambling Commission that this decision does not compromise the investigation that they are conducting, which is rightly independent and ongoing.”

The Met Police has denied leaking the names of the Tories involved and it is understood officers are also under investigation. One contable has already been arrested an questioned.

Rishi Sunak previously ruled out suspending the candidates until the independent body had concluded the investigation and found them guilty.

The development comes as James Cleverly and Yvette Cooper went head to head on LBC on an LBC immigration debate this morning, clashing over spouse visas and the annual cap on migration.

Key Points

  • Tories withdraw support from two betting scandal candidates

  • Starmer slams Sunak for not acting sooner on betting scandal

  • Gambling Commission rejects calls to name probed Tories

  • Met Police officers investigated by Gambling Commission

  • Senior minister calls for suspensions in betting scandal

  • Cooper refuses to set net migration target

Breaking: Conservatives withdraw support from two candidates in betting scandal

10:38 , Salma Ouaguira

The Conservative party has announced it has withdrawn support from the two candidates investigated by the Gambling Commission.

A party spokesperson said: “As a result of ongoing internal enquiries, we have concluded that we can no longer support Craig Williams or Laura Saunders as parliamentary candidates at the forthcoming general election.

“We have checked with the Gambling Commission that this decision does not compromise the investigation that they are conducting, which is rightly independent and ongoing.”

It comes as Rishi Sunak faced growing pressure to suspend the Tories accused of placing a bet on the general election from within the party.

The prime minister previously ruled out suspending the candidates until the independent body had concluded the investigation and found guilty.

 (Getty)
(Getty)

Pictured: Rishi Sunak, James Cleverly and David Cameron attend the Horse Guards Parade

12:04 , Salma Ouaguira

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Foreign Secretary David Cameron and Secretary of State for the Home Department James Cleverly walk on the day of the Horse Guards Parade during Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako's state visit, in London (REUTERS)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Foreign Secretary David Cameron and Secretary of State for the Home Department James Cleverly walk on the day of the Horse Guards Parade during Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako's state visit, in London (REUTERS)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Starmer hits back at Tory trans self ID attack

11:55 , Salma Ouaguira

Sir Keir Starmer has hit back at Health Secretary Victoria Atkins after she accused Labour of trying to introduce self ID for trans people “by the back door”.

The Labour leader said: “I couldn’t be clearer about this. We are not introducing self-identification. We are going to be and are protective of women’s spaces.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Labour rules out building new prisons to tackle overcrowding

11:46 , Salma Ouaguira

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said his party will “mend” the prison system, but ruled out building new facilities to cope with lack of prison spaces.

He said: “We are going to have to deal with knife crime offenders, they need consequences for carrying a knife. And we’re going to have to mend the system when it comes to prisons.

“It’s plain common sense that nobody can build a prison in the first week of the Labour government. Get on with the problem, get on with rebuilding, not just our prisons, but our country, because almost everything now is broken under this Government.”

11:46 , Salma Ouaguira

IFS chief rubbishes Labour excuse on spending plans

11:41 , Salma Ouaguira

The boss of the Institute for Fiscal Studies Paul Johnson has rubbished a Labour claim that the party cannot give more detail about its spending plans because it must wait until it “opens the books”.

Labour frontbencher Nick Thomas-Symonds said this morning that the party could “open the books and discover the situation is even worse than it is at the moment.”

But Mr Johnson said that “really won’t wash” because the future public finances is already clear.

He tweeted: “Oh dear, oh dear. The old ‘we may open the books and discover the situation is even worse…’

“The books are wide open, fully transparent. That really won’t wash.”

Who are the candidates in Craig William’s constituency?

11:35 , Salma Ouaguira

While constituents in Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr wait for a Conservative candidate to replace Craig Williams, here are the other party members standing:

  • Green, Jeremy Brignell-Thorp

  • Reform UK, Oliver Lewis

  • Liberal Democrat, Glyn Preston

  • Plaid Cymru, Elwyn Vaughan

  • Labour, Steve Witherden

Starmer denies migrants are ‘queuing up in Calais’ waiting for a Labour government

11:30 , Salma Ouaguira

Sir Keir Starmer has dismissed Tory claims that migrants are “queuing up in Calais” to wait for a Labour government to be elected.

Instead, he claimed they were rather getting in boats and coming over to the UK already.

He said: “They’re not queuing up in Calais, they’re getting in boats and coming over.

“We’ve had record numbers this year. So, I mean, the Prime Minister really needs to answer for that. Under his watch, we have had record numbers, record numbers coming by boat, we’ve got record numbers of migrants coming to work in this country.

“So that’s the situation – we intend to stop that by taking down the gangs that are running this bar trade in the first place. And if the Government had done that, we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all.”

Asked what his numerical target is for reducing net migration, the Labour leader refused to provide a figure: “We want to bring it down substantially. I’m not going to put an arbitrary number on it.”

Lib Dems: Sunak ‘dithered’ over Tory candidates in betting scandal

11:25 , Salma Ouaguira

Reacting to the Conservative party’s decision to withdraw support for its candidates Craig Williams and Laura Saunders, Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “This should have happened immediately when these scandalous revelations emerged, but instead Rishi Sunak has dithered and delayed.

“Sunak must confirm immediately that these candidates will not have the Conservative whip if elected.”

Starmer vows to stop zombie knives ‘straight away'

11:22 , Salma Ouaguira

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has promised to stop the online sale of zombie kinves “straight away”.

He told reporters: “The Government has announced 16 times that they’re going to ban the online sale of zombie knives. We as the opposition said we support this, bring the legislation, it will go through, they haven’t done it. Knife crime now is up 81% since 2015.”

He added : “It’s a problem that we all have responsibilities for so legislation on knives is a Government issue and the Government has failed on this issue. We will not fail on this issue. There are other measures, one of the families here their son was murdered by a knife that was sent through the post by a shop, ordered online in ordinary packaging and picked up by a 15-year-old who didn’t need to show any identification.

“It’s not rocket science. I will stop that straight away and I think it’s so outrageous that that can even happen.”

British opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer and actor Idris Elba attend a Labour general election campaign event on knife crime, in London (REUTERS)
British opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer and actor Idris Elba attend a Labour general election campaign event on knife crime, in London (REUTERS)

Trans intervention nothing to do with ‘culture wars’ or leadership ambition, says health secretary

11:19 , Salma Ouaguira

Trans intervention nothing to do with leadership ambition, says health secretary

Who are the candidates in Laura Saunders’s constituency?

11:12 , Salma Ouaguira

With Laura Saunders disowned from the Conservative party, constituents in Bristol North West are yet to have a Tory candidate to replace her.

Here’s a list of the rest of contenders:

  • Liberal Democrat, Caroline Gooch

  • Labour, Darren Jones

  • Reform UK, Scarlett O’Connor

  • Green, Mary Page

  • Social Democratic Party, Ben Smith

Former Tory minister: Decision to withdraw support took ‘so long’

11:05 , Salma Ouaguira

The Tory former Brexit minister has questioned why the party has delayed the decision to drop Laura Saunders and Craig Williams.

The Conservative peer tweeted: “We get there in the end. But why did it take so long to come to a decision that seemed so necessary right from the start?”

Starmer hits back at Tory trans self ID attack

11:50 , Salma Ouaguira

Sir Keir Starmer has hit back at criticism made by Health Secretary Victoria Atkins accusing Labour of trying to introduce self ID for trans people “by the back door”.

The Labour leader said: “I couldn’t be clearer about this. We are not introducing self-identification. We are going to be and are protective of women’s spaces.”

Starmer slams Sunak for not acting sooner on betting scandal

11:02 , Salma Ouaguira

Sir Keir Starmer has reacted to the news about Craig Williams and Laura Saunders being dropped as Tory candidates.

The Labour leader has criticised the move for not coming sooner. He told reporters: “Why didn’t he [Rishi Sunak] do that last week?”

Sir Keir previously called Rishi Sunak to suspend the people involved in the scandal and branded the prime minister “too weak” for leadership.

In full: Who is Laura Saunders the second person named in the betting saga?

10:57 , Salma Ouaguira

Laura Saunders became the second person to be named in the affair, Matt Mathers reports.

Ms Saunders, the Tory candidate for Bristol North West, is also under investigation by the Gambling Commission (GC) over claims she may have had inside knowledge about the prime minister’s decision to call a snap poll for 4 July.

Ms Saunders has worked for the party since 2015 and was married to Tony Lee, who works as the Conservative Party’s director of campaigns. Mr Lee has since taken a leave of absence after it came to light he was the third person being probed by the GC.

According to the BBC, which first named Ms Saunders as the candidate under investigation, she worked most recently at the party’s international division at Conservative Campaign Headquarters, which works with other centre-right parties around the world.

 (Supplied)
(Supplied)

In full: Who is Craig Williams the Tory candidate in the betting scandal?

10:55 , Salma Ouaguira

Craig Williams, the PM’s parliamentary private secretary, was the first person caught up in the scandal, Matt Mathers reports.

He admitted placing a bet on the election prior to Mr Sunak’s announcement after he was approached by a journalist.

The 39-year-old Tory candidate for Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr placed a £100 bet with 5-1 odds at Ladbrokes, meaning he would have won £500, but his name was raised as potentially a “politically exposed person”, so the wager was not registered.

That sparked the Gambling Commission writing to firms demanding the details of all bets made on a July election after 1 May, which it is now combing through.

According to The Guardian, which first reported the story, Mr Williams placed his bet via an online account that would have required him to provide personal details, including his date of birth and debit card. The bookmaker also knows the location of the bet.

Mr Williams apologised after admiting that he had placed a wager on the bet, but refused to comment further while the GC carried out its probe.

“I clearly made a huge error of judgment, that’s for sure, and I apologise,” he told. “I will not be expanding on my statement because it’s an independent process.”

Craig Williams MP is pictured alongise Rishi Sunak (@craig4monty)
Craig Williams MP is pictured alongise Rishi Sunak (@craig4monty)

Minister says he shares James Cracknell’s frustration after ‘shower of shit’ comment

10:40 , Salma Ouaguira

A Home Office minister has said he agrees with the frustration expressed by former Olympic rower and Tory candidate James Cracknell over the gambling scandal, Kate Devlin reports.

Earlier this week the Olympian who is standing as a Tory candidate described the party as a “shower of shit” and said “if one of my teammates got caught for cheating, they’d be dead to me” in a social media video.

Asked about the “frustration” expressed by the electorate and Mr Cracknell, Mr Tomlinson told Sky News: “That’s right, and I share his frustration. I agree with the frustration that’s being expressed, more than frustration, the anger as well.”

Idris Elba joins Starmer in knife crime campaign

10:35 , Salma Ouaguira

Actor Idris Elba has joined Sir Keir Starmer as part of a Labour event on knife crime.

The Thor actor, who has been vocal about tackling the London violence, agreed with the Labour leader on the need for a long-term solution.

While speaking in West London, Sir Keir promised a “comprehensive ban on possession of a wider range of lethal weapons”.

 (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
(Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

In full: Labour will keep Bibby Stockholm barge in use if elected, Yvette Cooper confirms

10:32 , Salma Ouaguira

Labour will keep the Bibby Stockholm asylum barge in use if elected next week, Yvette Cooper has confirmed.

The party has said it cannot end the use of the vesselimmediately if it wins the general election, but that it wants to end the need for barges and hotels “as fast as possible”. The shadow home secretary was quizzed about Labour’s plans for Bibby Stockholm, which she has criticised in the past over its “eye watering” cost.

Asked during a debate on LBC whether she would take asylum seekers off the barge on day one of a Labour government, Ms Cooper said: “No, obviously you can’t do that on day one.

“I think we need to end these extortionate barges, military bases and hotels… we want to do that as fast as possible but what you have to do first of all, the system is broken, so we need to prevent small boats arriving in the first place and that means smashing the criminal gangs.”

Read The Independent full story below

Labour will keep Bibby Stockholm barge in use if elected, Yvette Cooper confirms

Sunak takes aim at Labour over illegal migration

10:22 , Salma Ouaguira

Atkins criticises Labour’s plans to introduce trans self ID

10:15 , Salma Ouaguira

Victoria Atkins has criticised Labour for planning to introduce self ID for trans people “by the back door”.

Speaking at a press conference this morning, the Health Secretary said: “The Labour Party have been at the heart of this toxic debate.

“Some of Labour’s most senior politicians have run towards this biological denial and embraced it. The man who would like to be foreign secretary called women ‘dinosaurs’ ‘hoarding rights’ and the man who wishes to lead the health service and therefore maternity services said people asking reasonable questions should just ‘get over it’.

“Now we discover that the Labour Party want to dilute women’s rights further through their plans to introduce self-identification by the back door.

“Currently someone who wants to change their legal sex has to live in their acquired gender for at least two years before their application is scrutinised by a panel made up of medical practitioners and qualified legal members. Labour want to abolish this panel and the safeguards it represents.”

Gambling Commission rejects calls to name probed Tories

10:03 , Salma Ouaguira

The watchdog investigating Tory candidates for allegedly betting on the date of the general election has rejected calls to release the names.

Labour’s national campaign coordinator Pat McFadden wrote a letter to the Gambling Commission asking the independent body to release details of the poeople investigated.

But Andrew Rhodes, chief executive of the commission, has replied saying that “to protect the integrity of the investigation, and to ensure a fair and just outcome” it will not be naming the suspects.

He added the commission has asked the suspects to treat the matter confidentially but this requirement “does not preclude other activity relating to the fact of an investigation taking place”.

Cleverly does not ‘envisage’ the UK leaving ECHR

09:56 , Salma Ouaguira

James Cleverly and Yvette Cooper have been quizzed over their views on leaving the European Court of Human Rights.

Although many Tories have voiced their desire to leave the ECHR, Mr Cleverly said he does not “envisage” this happening.

Ms Cooper said Labour will abide by international law and warned against aligning with countries like Russia.

 (LBC)
(LBC)

Cooper: Migration needs to be ‘controlled and managed’

09:47 , Salma Ouaguira

Yvette Copper has been asked by LBC’s Nick Ferrari whether she agrees with the Tories that immigration is putting pressure on public services.

The shadow Home Secretary has said migration is valuable and people who have done “incredible things” for public sectors should be welcomed.

“But the system has to be controlled and managed,” she adds.

Daily Record backs Labour in first endorsement in 14 years

09:43 , Salma Ouaguira

Sunak and Starmer to attend state banquet with Japanese emperors

09:42 , Salma Ouaguira

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer will take a break from the general election campaign to sit together at today’s banquet with the Japanese Emperors.

It is part of a Japanese state visit by Emperor Naruhito and his wife Empress Masako to the UK hosted by The King and Queen.

The state banquet will take place at Buckingham palace.

Cleverly slams Labour net migration plans a ‘Damascus-style conversion’

09:31 , Salma Ouaguira

James Cleverly has claimed Labour will allow the UK to become a net recipient of migration with its commitment to cut migration numbers.

The Home Secretary said: “They talk about wanting to bring this down but this is a road to Damascus-style conversion now that there is an election on and the measures that I have already taken will reduce by about 300,000, so 300,000 fewer people will be eligible to come under the arrangements that I have put in place compared with previously and this was opposed by Labour over and over again.”

Responding to the attack, Yvette Cooper has accused the Home Secretary of “lying” and said the Government’s migration measures was “simply made up”.

 (LBC)
(LBC)

Cooper refuses to set a target for ‘significant reduction’ in net migration

09:24 , Salma Ouaguira

Yvette Cooper has promised to deliver a “significant reduction” in net migration but refused to set a target.

The shadow Home Secretary told LBC: “We don’t think it is right to have a particular number target.

“We do think it is right to have a significant reduction and we do think that net migration needs to come down and we have set out a plan to reduce it.”

Asked what “significant” actually means, the Labour frontbencher said: “We have seen repeated Conservative governments set these targets that then end up being discredited and we think it is important to build confidence in the system and to be serious.”

Cooper denies Labour opposed caps on migrant visas

09:19 , Salma Ouaguira

James Cleverly has accused Labour of opposing the salary threshold on spouse visas and the annual cap on migration.

But Yvette Cooper has hit back at the Cabinet minster and accused him of lying.

She said: “James keeps saying this but it is simply made up. Some of the measures you mentioned, we brought them in.”

The shadow Home Secretary claims she supported the salary threshold on spouse visas and vowed to continue with the changes.

 (LBC)
(LBC)

Conservative pledges on immigration:

09:14 , Salma Ouaguira

  • Remove student discount on visa health surcharge.

  • Increase visa fees.

  • Bring a legal cap on migration.

  • Kick off the Rwanda scheme and send asylum seekers on regular flights.

  • Halve migration then reduce every year.

Labour pledges on immigration:

09:12 , Salma Ouaguira

  • Cancel the Rwanda scheme.

  • Increase security cooperation with EU.

  • Give police more powers to search suspected people smugglers by implementing a Border Command Force.

  • Train more UK workers and ban employers recruiting from overseas asa default.

  • Hire 1,000 more caseworkers to return more asylum seekers.

  • Abolish non-dom status.

 (LBC)
(LBC)

LBC Immigration debate: Cleverly head to head with Cooper

09:08 , Salma Ouaguira

Nick Ferrari starts the debate asking James Cleverly and Yvette Cooper about why should voters trust them to run the Home Office.

Mr Cleverly answers first, saying: “This election is about a choice, and the choice they have in front of them is the Conservative Party.”

The party was “committed to stopping the boats and committed to making sure legal and illegal migration are reduced and that’s in stark contrast to the Labour Party”, he added.

Ms Cooper said that after 14 years of Conservative government “it really feels like everything is broken”, adding: “And the chaos has got worse and worse and worse. It is time for change.”

 (LBC)
(LBC)

Labour: Knife crime not only a London issue

08:55 , Salma Ouaguira

Shadow minister Nick Thomas-Symonds has said knife crime it is “not an exclusively London problem” and areas like Cleveland and Hertfordshire have seen cases more than double since 2015.

He says: “This is a nationwide problem that we absolutely need to, in my view, stand above the political point-scoring, and absolutely grip this problem.”

Echoing Labour’s campaign slogan, Mr Thomas-Symonds says: “You have to be both tough, in terms of the sentences for knife crime”.

He adds: “But you also have to be tough on the underlying causes as well.”

You can read Labour’s knife crime pledge below

Starmer: Reducing knife crime will be ‘moral mission’ for Labour

Kwarteng admits ‘partial responsibility’ for Tory election challenges

08:49 , Salma Ouaguira

Kwasi Kwarteng has said he feels “partially responsible” for the challenges facing the Conservative party.

But the former chancellor claimed Rishi Sunak and other Tories need to shoulder the blame for damaging poll results.

Asked if he felt responsible for the Tories’ current position, the former chancellor told GB News: “I feel partially responsible but I don’t feel responsible for leaving D-Day early, I don’t feel responsible for the Reform party which was on 4 per cent in October 2022 being on nearly 20 per cent now.

“I don’t feel responsible for the election betting scandal nor do I feel responsible for the fact that this election has happened way before anyone was expecting it.”

Labour insists books may show a worse state of the economy

08:38 , Salma Ouaguira

Shadow minister without portfolio Nick Thomas-Symonds has insisted the Office for Budget Responsibility will have a different view of the economy after the autumn budget is unveiled.

It comes as the Institute for Fiscal Studies cast doubts on the spending commitments laid out in the main parties’ manifestos.

Mr Thomas-Symonds told Times Radio: “Obviously the Government is in a very different position from us, because, as the Institute for Fiscal Studies set out, there are no specific departmental spending plans beyond March of 2025 that’s because the Government hasn’t conducted a spending review.

“We obviously can’t do that from opposition, and we’ve also been open, always that we may open the books and discover the situation is even worse than it is at the moment. We’ve never hidden from that.”

 (Getty)
(Getty)

Labour to host an annual summit to tackle knife crime

08:35 , Salma Ouaguira

Shadow minister without portfolio Nick Thomas-Symonds said knife crime was a “nationwide” issue, Zander Butler reports.

Mr Thomas-Symonds told Sky News: “We would create young future hubs to actually identify people who would be at risk of falling into a life of crime.

“Also, we need a cross-government and whole society approach. We will chair a summit every year on this issue because it is absolutely crucial.”

Tomlinson ‘frustrated’ over gambling scandal engulfing Tory campaign

08:32 , Salma Ouaguira

Home Office minister Michael Tomlinson has said he agrees with the frustration expressed by former Olympic rower and Tory candidate James Cracknell.

Referring to the gambling scandal engulfing the Tory campaign, Mr Cracknell said in a social media video: “And if one of my teammates got caught for cheating, they’d be dead to me” and also described the party as a “shower of shit”.

Asked about the “frustration” expressed by the electorate and Mr Cracknell, Mr Tomlinson told Sky News: “That’s right, and I share his frustration. I agree with the frustration that’s being expressed, more than frustration, the anger as well.”

Coming up: Cleverly and Cooper to face off on immigration in LBC debate

08:14 , Salma Ouaguira

Home Secretary James Cleverly and Labour’s shadow minister Yvette Cooper are expected to go head to head this morning on LBC.

Nick Ferrari will host the debate on migration and security at the Breakfast show at 9am.

Tomlinson: Gambling scandal probe should be finished ‘swiftly'

08:09 , Salma Ouaguira

Michael Tomlinson has said he wanted the Gambling Commission investigations into the election betting scandal to be concluded “swiftly”.

The watchdog is looking into the claims while the Conservative Party undergoes its own probe.

The minister for countering illegal migration told Sky News: “I want this to happen as quickly as possible. I want it to happen swiftly. And I want anyone who is found to have broken the rules, to have broken the law, to be dealt with severely.”

Senior minister calls for suspensions in betting scandal

08:05 , Salma Ouaguira

Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker has urged Rishi Sunak to suspend Tories investigated in the betting scandal.

He told ITV last night putting a bet on when the general election would take place was “disreputable”.

The senior minister said: “I would call them up and ask them, ‘Did you do it?’ And if they did it, then they are suspended.

“But the prime minister would have to answer why he hasn’t done it, I haven’t got inside information on why the prime minister hasn’t done it.”

(Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Archive)
(Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Archive)

Starmer shifts campaign focus on tackling knife crime

07:59 , Salma Ouaguira

Minister dodges questions on suspending candidates in betting scandal

07:48 , Salma Ouaguira

Illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson has dodged questions on whether candidates probed over betting on the general election will be suspended.

Mr Tomlinson told Sky News Breakfast there is a “process” and the Gambling Commission is independent.

He added that there is an internal party process underway as well and it should happen “swiftly”.

The Cabinet minister claimed anyone found to have broken the rules or laws will be dealt with “severely”.

But he did not explain why the prime minister cannot take the first step and suspend the people under investigation.

Illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson speaking to Sky News (Sky News)
Illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson speaking to Sky News (Sky News)

James Cracknell wants to see “voters in the eyes” amid betting scandal

07:40 , Salma Ouaguira

The former Olympic rower has told ITV he wants to be able to look “voters in the eyes” after he claimed the party is “shower of s**t” amid the betting scandal.

Mr Cracknell urged investigated candidates to “come forward” and “admit they made a mistake”.

The Gambling Commission is reportedly looking into “many names” linked to the Conservative Party and the Cabinet who places a bet on the 4 July date.

Starmer warned rescuing ‘dangerously underfunded’ fire service must be a first priority as prime minister

07:39 , Salma Ouaguira

Britain’s top trade union leader has warned Sir Keir Starmer that he will have to tackle a “dangerously underfunded” fire service as one of his first priorities on becoming prime minister, our Political Editor David Maddox reports.

Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and president of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), has told the Labour leader that fire and rescue services are in a state of emergency.

It comes as Starmer entering Downing Street as prime minister on 5 July is now seen as almost inevitable with Labour more than 20 points ahead in most opinion polls.

Speaking to The Independent, Mr Wrack warned that the UK is “dangerously underprepared” for responding to fires, floods and extreme weather events, and has called on Keir Starmer to rapidly invest in the fire and rescue service when he enters Number 10.

Starmer warned rescuing the fire service must be a first priority as prime minister

Minister admits Tories failed to ‘stop the boats'

07:35 , Salma Ouaguira

Minister for countering illegal migration Michael Tomlinson has admitted the Tories have failed to “stop the boats”.

Asked whether Mr Sunak and the Tories had not stopped the boats, Michael Tomlinson told Times Radio: “That is right. We have not.

“We have made progress. Let me put this in context. Year on year, so rolling year to date or to last week we are still down by a third, so we are making progress.

“And the second thing I’d say is our Rwanda scheme. It is important to have a deterrent in place, as yet that deterrent is not fully in place. But we are already seeing the effects of that deterrent.”

What is happening in the general election campaign today?

07:29 , Salma Ouaguira

  • James Cleverly and Yvette Cooper will clash over immigration in a LBC debate this morning.

  • Rachel Reeves, shadow chancellor, will meet Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, as they visit a major business in Dunbartonshire.

  • Rishi Sunak continues his attempts to revive the Tory campaign as he tells voters the party has “10 days to save Britain” from Labour rule.

  • Mr Sunak will be joined at the Horse Guards Parade this morning by Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron and Home Secretary James Cleverly.

  • Sir Keir Starmer has pledged to make reducing knife crime a “moral mission” ahead of a visit in central London, where he will meet with families of victims.

  • Liberal Democrat Layla Moran will visit Oxfordshire to launch the party’s six-page mini-manifesto on care, highlighting pledges already made in the party’s main manifesto.

  • Health secretary Vicky Atkins is expected to give a press conference this morning.

‘Handful’ of Met Police officers investigated by Gambling Commission

06:58 , Andre Langlois

The Gambling Commission is investigating a “handful” of Met Police officers as the betting scandal continues to dominate the general election campaign.

One officer has already been arrested and questioned in connection with bets allegedly placed before the election date was announced.

More officers are being looked at by the commission, sources told the BBC.

The Met has not said how many are involved, but has denied reports in the Telegraph that it is the source of leaks which have seen four Conservatives named in connection with the scandal.

ICYMI: IFS accuses Reform and Greens of ‘poisoning’ debate as parties refuse to face up to ‘painful’ economic choices

06:00 , Joe Middleton

A leading think tank has accused Nigel Farage’s Reform of poisoning the debate around painful economic choices, as it warned it would be a “considerable surprise” if there are no further tax rises in the next five years.

Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, slammed the Tory and Labour manifestos, saying they leave voters “guessing”.

But he also hit out at Reform and the Greens for “unattainable” tax claims he said had made offerings from other parties look “feeble”.

Kate Devlin reports

IFS accuses Reform and Greens of ‘poisoning’ debate as it warns of ‘painful’ choices

Sunak’s failure to suspend the alleged gamblers is a bet that could backfire

04:00 , Joe Middleton

The prime minister’s reluctance to mete out consistent punishments to those alleged to have bet on the election date has left his fellow Conservatives in a muddle, writes Sean O’Grady

Sunak’s failure to suspend the alleged gamblers is a bet that could backfire

Watch: Craig Mackinlay says Boris Johnson had 'star-quality' as he dishes dirt on top Tory MPs

03:00 , Joe Middleton

ICYMI: Tories doing own inquiry into betting allegations, says Sunak

02:00 , Joe Middleton

The Conservative Party is conducting its own internal inquiry into allegations that officials and candidates bet on the date of the general election, Rishi Sunak said today.

Speaking to journalists, Mr Sunak said: “(The Gambling Commission) don’t talk about the individuals that they are investigating,” the Prime Minister told journalists on the campaign trail in Edinburgh on Monday.

“What I can tell you is I am not aware of any other candidate that they are looking at.”

He added: “What I can tell you is, in parallel, we’ve been conducting our own internal inquiries and of course will act on any relevant findings or information from that and pass it on to the Gambling Commission.”

The party’s chief data officer Nick Mason is the latest figure understood to be taking a leave of absence amid claims he placed bets on the election date, along with director of campaigning Tony Lee.

Mr Lee’s would-be MP wife Laura Saunders and fellow candidate Craig Williams, who was a parliamentary aide to the prime minister, are also under investigation by the Gambling Commission.

Voices: This will be the first Labour backbench rebellion – and Starmer’s first U-turn

01:00 , Joe Middleton

The policy is so toxic even Suella Braverman wants to get rid of it. It’s a matter of when, not if, it will be abolished, and Starmer’s best bet is to sort it out sooner rather than later, writes Andrew Grice

This will be the first Labour backbench rebellion – and Starmer’s first U-turn

One in 5 young voters prefer TikTok and Instagram for election news, poll reveals

Tuesday 25 June 2024 00:01 , Joe Middleton

As the country gears up for a general election in under two weeks, young voters are relying less and less on traditional media to access the news.

A substantial 21 per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds say that TikTok and Instagram have been their main source of information during the election campaign, an exclusive Techne poll for The Independent can reveal.

Perhaps most surprising is that Twitter and Facebook are the least-preferred source for young voters – being chosen by just 4 per cent.

Alicja Hagopian reports

One in five young voters prefers TikTok and Instagram for election news, poll reveals

What are Labour and the Conservative positions on transgender rights ahead of the 2024 general election?

Monday 24 June 2024 23:00 , Joe Middleton

Labour has clarified its position on transgender rights as Wes Streeting says the party would “modernise and reform” gender laws if it comes into power on July 4.

The shadow health secretary has said Labour’s policy aims to allow transgender people to “live their lives with freedom, dignity and respect”. His comments come after all the major parties unveiled their manifestos over the past few weeks, outlining their visions for the country.

Each covers transgender policy, with the issue becoming a major cultural talking point over the past few years.

Albert Toth reports.

Transgender rights: What is the Labour and Conservative position?

Watch: Nigel Farage claims Donald Trump has ‘learned a lot’ from studying his speeches

Monday 24 June 2024 21:00 , Joe Middleton

Ask a Green Party candidate anything in exclusive Q&A session

Monday 24 June 2024 20:00 , Joe Middleton

The Independent is giving readers the chance to chat directly with candidates from some of the major political parties in a special general election series of Ask Me Anything events.

In one of the sessions, our community will be able to chat exclusively with Dr Ellie Chowns, who is hoping to be elected MP in North Herefordshire for the Green Party.

Serving as the party’s housing and communities spokesperson, Dr Chowns served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the West Midlands for the party from 2019 to 2020.

She has also been a councillor on Herefordshire Council since 2017, representing the Bishops Frome & Cradley ward, and is leader of the council’s Green group.

If you have a question about the Green Party’s manifesto, pledges or policies submit it here now.

Dr Chowns will join the conversation live at 6pm on Friday 28 June for the “Ask Me Anything” event.Find out more here.

One in five young voters prefers TikTok and Instagram for election news, poll reveals

Monday 24 June 2024 19:40 , Matt Mathers

As the country gears up for a general election in under two weeks, young voters are relying less and less on traditional media to access the news.

A substantial 21 per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds say that TikTok and Instagram have been their main source of information during the election campaign, an exclusive Techne poll for The Independent can reveal.

Full report:

One in five young voters prefers TikTok and Instagram for election news, poll reveals

Nigel Farage under fire for ‘cuddling up to the Kremlin’ as IFS accuse Reform of poisoning election debate

Monday 24 June 2024 19:20 , Matt Mathers

Nigel Farage has come under fire for “cuddling up to the Kremlin” as a leading think tank accused his Reform party of poisoning the election debate.

On another torrid day for the ex-Ukip leader, military experts queued up to criticise his claim the West provoked Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Full report:

Farage under fire for ‘cuddling up to Kremlin’ as Reform accused of poisoning debate

Kemi Badenoch hints at another Tory leadership run after general election

Monday 24 June 2024 19:00 , Joe Middleton

Kemi Badenoch has hinted she could make another run for the Tory leadership, if the party loses the election next month.

During a debate hosted by the Institute of Directors and Bloomberg on Monday, the Business Secretary was asked about her intentions if Rishi Sunak is ousted on 4 July.

She claimed there was “no better job” than Business and Trade Secretary, which she described as being “a lot easier and a lot less pressured than being prime minister”.

Kemi Badenoch hints at another Tory leadership run after general election

Starmer grilling over

Monday 24 June 2024 18:44 , Matt Mathers

Starmer’s grilling by Sun readers has now finished.

The Labour leader was tackled on his previous support for Corbyn, the economy, immigration and the NHS, among other issues.

Our manifesto is fully costed - Starmer

Monday 24 June 2024 18:43 , Matt Mathers

Starmer says his priorities will be to stabalise the economy and cut NHS waiting lists.

He is asked if he will be more radical in government.

Everything in our manifesto is fully costed, he adds.

Starmer: I’m ready to be PM

Monday 24 June 2024 18:41 , Matt Mathers

Starmer says he is ready to become the prime minister should Labour win the election.

We have the chance to change things, he adds.

But people must go out and vote for it, he adds.

We will protect women-only spaces - Starmer

Monday 24 June 2024 18:38 , Matt Mathers

Starmer says women-only spaces must be protected.

He is asked why Labour would make it easier for people to change gender.

Labour will treat everyone with respect, he adds.

Starmer tackled on NHS

Monday 24 June 2024 18:34 , Matt Mathers

Starmer is tackled on his comments that he wouldn’t use private health care.

I won’t skip the queue, he says.

My government will bring waiting lists down, he adds.

We need to fund public sector schools - Starmer

Monday 24 June 2024 18:32 , Matt Mathers

Labour leader says he has nothing against private schools.

He is tackled about his plan to tax private school fees.

We need to fund public sector schools too, he adds.

Rwanda not working - Starmer

Monday 24 June 2024 18:30 , Matt Mathers

Starmer denies that he is creating a “draw” effect by saying Labour will process claims.

Not processing claims means people are able to stay indefinitely at the expense of the taxpayer, he adds.

The Rwanda plan is not a disincentive, he adds.

Monday 24 June 2024 18:27 , Matt Mathers

Starmer insists people can be sent back to the county they came from.

He says the last Labour government was able to do this.

We will also smash the gangs smuggling people into the UK, he adds.

Starmer: We will process more asylum claims

Monday 24 June 2024 18:25 , Matt Mathers

Starmer says Labour will set up a new border security command on day one of entering office if it wins the election.

He says Labour will send people back to the country they came from.

We will process more asylum applications, he adds.

Starmer tackled on Rwanda

Monday 24 June 2024 18:23 , Matt Mathers

Starmer is now tackled on the government’s Rwanda plan.

He is asked how Labour will deport people and where they will send them to.

Labour has said it will scrap the government’s Rwanda plan, which Starmer has previously described as a “gimmick”.

Starmer: We’ll provide stability

Monday 24 June 2024 18:20 , Matt Mathers

Starmer says the UK has gone through 14 years of “chaos” under the Tories.

He says Labour can provide the change the country needs.

We will provide stability, he adds.

I’ve changed the Labour Party, says Corbyn

Monday 24 June 2024 18:18 , Matt Mathers

Starmer says he has “fundamentally” changed the Labour Party.

Harry Cole suggests that he had failed to change the party while Corbyn was leader.

Cole suggests Starmer failed to get a second EU referendum.

I didn’t vote for Corbyn in Labour leadership contest - Starmer

Monday 24 June 2024 18:16 , Matt Mathers

Starmer says he wanted to get “good colleagues” reelected to parliament.

He was tackled on his previous support for Jeremy Corbyn.

I didn’t vote for him to become leader, Starmer says.

Shock new poll confirms Reform lead over Tories despite Farage’s Putin comments

Monday 24 June 2024 18:08 , Matt Mathers

A shock new poll appears to have confirmed that Reform holds a narrow lead over the Tories with just 10 days to go before the general election.

According to the Redfield and Wilton survey of 10,000 voters polled after Nigel Farage made his comments blaming the West for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, his Reform UK are one point ahead of the Tories both unchanged on 19 percent and 18 percent.

Full report:

Shock new poll confirms Reform lead over Tories despite Farage’s Putin comments

Starmer up shortly

Monday 24 June 2024 18:06 , Matt Mathers

Sunak has finished taking questions from Sun readers now.

Sir Keir Starmer is up shortly.

Sunak: I have the energy to keep going

Monday 24 June 2024 18:05 , Matt Mathers

Sunak denies that the “fight” has gone out of him after his D-Day gaffe.

He says he will never give up fighting for every vote ahead of the election.

I have the energy to keep going, he adds.

I’ll cut taxes - Sunak

Monday 24 June 2024 18:02 , Matt Mathers

Sunak says the election is about “the future” as he urges Sun readers to back him.

He says he will cut taxes while Labour will raise them.

PM adds that he has created jobs and promised to boost defence spending.

Watch

Monday 24 June 2024 18:00 , Joe Middleton

The ghost of Liz Truss

Monday 24 June 2024 17:59 , Matt Mathers

Sunak said he was “right” about the disastrous premiership of his predecessor Liz Truss.

He is asked if he should apologise to the country on behalf of the Tory party before putting her in Downing Street.

PM claims the economy will suffer if Labour wins. He adds they will put up taxes.

I’ll help young get on housing ladder - Sunak

Monday 24 June 2024 17:55 , Matt Mathers

Abolishing stamp duty and the help to buy scheme will help people get on the housing ladder, Sunak says.

He is asked what his party will do to help young people buy their first home.

Both the policies are in the Conservative Party manifesto.

I accept responsibility for NHS waiting lists - Sunak

Monday 24 June 2024 17:53 , Matt Mathers

Sunak says he hasn’t made as much progress on NHS waiting lists as he would have liked.

He is asked what has gone wrong and whether he accepts responsibility, as waiting lists remain at near-record levels.

I can assure you that the NHS budget will continue to increase, he adds.

Sunak tackled on NHS

Monday 24 June 2024 17:49 , Matt Mathers

Sunak is now tackled on the NHS and waiting lists.

An audience member tells him her dad died of cancer before getting diagnosed.

The most important thing we can do is diagnose people “as soon as possible”, the PM says.

He apologises to the woman.

'Why is the country falling apart?’

Monday 24 June 2024 17:41 , Matt Mathers

Sunak accepts things have been “difficult” over the past few years but defends his record.

He says education standards have gone up, pointing to improvements in reading levels among children.

PM was asked “why is the country falling apart?”

‘Full consequences of the law'

Monday 24 June 2024 17:38 , Matt Mathers

Anyone found guilty in the betting scandal should face the “full consequences of the law”, Sunak says.

He says the investigation must be carried out responsibly.

PM says anyone found to have broken the law will be kicked out of the Tory party.