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Election campaign day 40: Sunak fights to the bitter end

Rishi Sunak says he has not given up hope in the election (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Rishi Sunak says he has not given up hope in the election (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The Prime Minister has issued a fresh warning of the dangers of a Labour “supermajority” as he said he is still fighting to win the election.

– It’s not all over yet

With three days to polling day and the Tories still stuck in a distant second place if the pollsters are to be believed, Rishi Sunak has insisted that he is not giving up the fight.

On Sunday the Prime Minister sought to channel the spirit of England’s unlikely late turnaround in the Euros against Slovakia, posting on social media: “It’s not over until it’s over.”

But in the cold, grey light of morning, as his campaign tour took him to more hitherto safe Tory seats, Mr Sunak found himself fending off questions from reporters demanding to know whether he had abandoned hopes of winning and was now simply engaged in damage limitation.

“I’m fighting hard for every vote. I am out there fighting my hardest to talk to as many people as possible to win this election,” he declared.

“I don’t take a single place or person for granted, but I don’t want Britain to sleepwalk into the danger of what an unchecked Labour government with a supermajority would mean.”

It was a claim echoed by Home Secretary James Cleverly, touring the studios on the morning broadcast round, who insisted there was still all to play for.

“The choice of who runs the country from Friday onwards is still in the hands of the British people, they do not need to be dictated to by the opinion polls,” he said.

“As the Prime Minister is saying, we will campaign right until polls close.”

– Picture of the day

Sir Ed Davey diving from a platform for a bungee jump
Sir Ed Davey launches into a bungee jump during a visit to Eastbourne Borough Football Club (Gareth Fuller/PA)

– Starmer clocks off

Sir Keir Starmer’s life may be about to undergo a massive upheaval as he contemplates the prospect that he could be prime minister by Friday, but he is adamant some things will not change.

The Labour leader said he is determined to carve out some time each week with his wife, Victoria, and their two teenage children, regardless of the pressures of politics.

Sir Keir Starmer, surrounded by supporters, holds up a Hitchin Town FC scarf
Sir Keir Starmer on the campaign trail at Hitchin Town FC (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“We’ve had a strategy in place and we’ll try to keep to it, which is to carve out really protected time for the kids, so on a Friday – I’ve been doing this for years – I will not do a work-related thing after six o’clock, pretty well come what may,” he said.

“There are a few exceptions, but that’s what we do. I don’t want to lose that time.”

Sir Keir denied bunking off, insisting that spending time with his family actually made him a better leader.

“I don’t believe in the theory that you are a better decision-maker if you don’t allow yourself the space to be a dad and to have time for your kids,” he said.

“Actually, it helps me, it takes me away from the pressure, it relaxes me, and I think, actually, not only is it what I want to do as a dad, it is better.”

– Swinney fights on

It is not just the Tories who could be in trouble on Thursday, with the polls suggesting the SNP could lose out to a resurgent Labour Party in Scotland.

However First Minister John Swinney, who has been in the post for barely two months, said he was committed to his role as party leader, even if the SNP loses its majority among the Scottish seats at Westminster.

John Swinney in a blue and white striped apron passes a plate with a slice of pizza from behind a serving counter
SNP leader John Swinney serves a slice of pizza during a campaign visit to Portobello Beach, Edinburgh (Michael Boyd/PA)

“I became leader of the SNP eight weeks ago today and I came into leadership in the SNP to bring my party together and to bring my country together,” he said.

“I committed to do that for the long term, I committed to that task, to take my party well beyond the 2026 Scottish Parliament elections, and that’s exactly what I intend to do.”

Mr Swinney took over the reins after Humza Yousaf stood down after a little over a year in the job after a row with the Greens cost him his majority in the Scottish Parliament.

– Quote of the day

– Davey takes a running jump

Sir Ed Davey’s election campaign has been notable for his almost daily diet of wacky stunts and photo opportunities as the Liberal Democrats compete with the larger parties for media attention.

Sir Ed Davey on a blue mattress as two staff members help him out of his harness following a bungee jump
Sir Ed Davey recovers after his bungee jump (Gareth Fuller/PA)

He began the final week with his most audacious effort yet, taking the plunge into the unknown with his first ever bungee jump.

“I am asking people to take a leap of faith and vote for the Liberal Democrats,” he explained.

But then, the party in yellow have never been known for subtlety of their messaging.

– Farage’s million pound splurge

Nigel Farage has said that Reform UK is to spend £1 million on election advertising as it goes all out for votes in the final days of the campaign.

The party said it had been “flooded” with £400,000 in new donations in the wake of its weekend rally in Birmingham, despite being embroiled in continuing allegations of racism and homophobia among some of its supporters.

“Reform UK is already the leading voice of opposition across the country and by Friday morning we can be the real opposition in Parliament, too,” Mr Farage said.

Nigel Farage standing in front of the Reform UK battlebus and speaking to a broadcast microphone
Nigel Farage speaking to the media following Reform UK’s Birmingham rally on Sunday (Matthew Cooper/PA)

He said he would bring the party “under much, much stricter control” after criticisms that he had failed to tackle allegations of racism within its ranks.

“This is a start-up party. I took it over a month ago. There were some people there that should never, ever have been there and I’m sorry for that,” Mr Farage said.

However Mr Sunak said the Reform leader had not done enough to condemn some of the “appalling” views that had been expressed.

“As I said, you’ve got now multiple Reform candidates and campaigners openly espousing racist and misogynistic views, seemingly without challenge, (that) tells you something about the culture within the Reform party,” he said.

– Social media moment

Labour is making a last push on social media encouraging voters not to “wake up” to a Tory government on Friday.

The party has posted a series of videos on TikTok designed to jump-scare users by showing a superimposed photo of Mr Sunak with his head lying on a bed as he smiles at the camera.

One video clips together footage of a woman kicking a ball towards a train door as it opens, which bounces back towards the user’s point of view before the image of Mr Sunak appears.

Text over the photo reads: “Imagine waking up on 5 July to 5 more years of the Tories. Vote Labour.”

– What the polls say

Four opinion polls have been published in the last 24 hours, all showing Labour ahead of the Conservatives by a large margin, with Reform UK in third place.

A line chart showing the seven-day rolling average for political parties in opinion polls from March 1 to July 1, with the final point showing Labour on 40%, Conservatives 20%, Reform 16%, Lib Dems 12% and Greens 6%. Source: PA graphic
(PA Graphics)

Savanta gives Labour a 17-percentage point lead over the Conservatives, Opinium has Labour with a 20-point lead, More in Common puts the party 15 points ahead while Deltapoll gives Labour a 21-point advantage.

An average of all polls with fieldwork completed during the seven days to July 1 puts Labour on 40%, 20 points ahead of the Conservatives on 20%, followed by Reform on 16%, the Lib Dems on 12% and the Greens on 6%.

– What’s happening tomorrow

Rishi Sunak takes the Conservative campaign to the South East, Sir Keir Starmer will be in the Midlands and Sir Ed Davey heads for the West Country.