LONDON: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson got the better of opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in their second and final debate ahead of the December 12 general election, according to 52 per cent of viewers responding to a snap poll.
The YouGov poll said that Johnson appeared to have thwarted Corbyn’s bid to deliver a knockout blow in the face of surveys indicating that the incumbent’s Conservative Party would win an absolute majority in the election, reports Efe news.
The main themes of Friday’s debate, which aired on the BBC, were Brexit and the need for investment in public services.
Vowing again to “get Brexit done”, Johnson attacked Corbyn’s proposal for a second referendum giving voters the chance to choose between a new, Labour-negotiated withdrawal agreement with the European Union (EU) and remaining in the bloc.
While Johnson’s Conservatives were overwhelmingly pro-Brexit, Labour voters remained divided and Corbyn has sought to accommodate those opposing views, insisting that he would remain neutral if there was a second referendum.
“We have a fantastic plan to get Brexit done,” Johnson said of the accord he reached with EU leaders in October, though Parliament declined to ratify the deal. “The people want to turn the page,” the Prime Minister said, asserting that only a Conservative government can “unleash the potential of this country”.
If the Conservatives secure an absolute majority, Johnson pledges to take the UK out of the EU no later than January 31, 2020 and to hammer out a new trading arrangement with the bloc before the start of 2021.
In response, Corbyn said that Johnson’s approach would lead only to years of “painful negotiations and broken promises”. “What he (Johnson) will do is walk out of a relationship with the EU into a relationship with nobody,” the Labour leader said.
“We have ample time to get on and build a new free trade partnership, not just with the EU but with countries around the world,” Johnson said. Labour’s platform calls for boosting public investment in the UK to levels last seen in the 1970s, to be financed by increasing taxes on the wealthy and big corporations.
“There are now four million children living in poverty in our country,” Corbyn said. Johnson said that he would make “massive investments” in healthcare and education.
To afford that spending, he said, the UK needs a “solid economy” that will only be achievable if Brexit is completed. IANS