Johnson and Corbyn deadlocked in Leaders’ debate that revealed little

By Ed Southgate
November 19 2019, 22.05

Viewers were split down the middle after tonight’s head-to-head ITV Leaders’ debate.

A YouGov snap poll found 51 percent thought Boris Johnson was victorious compared to 49 percent for Jeremy Corbyn in the first televised battle ahead of the December 12 General Election. The poll had over 1,600 respondents and excluded don’t knows.

YouGov political research manager Chris Curtis said: “Our snap poll shows that the public is divided on who won the debate, with most Labour voters thinking Jeremy Corbyn won, most Conservative voters thinking Boris Johnson won, and very few people changing their minds.

“But given the Conservatives went into this debate in the lead, they will hope the lack of a knockout blow means they can maintain this until voting day.”

Viewers on social media criticised Corbyn for failing to declare a position on a Labour-negotiated Brexit deal and Johnson’s “rambling nonsense.”

Remain Campaign group For Our Future’s Sake said: “Tonight Boris Johnson pushed his lie that his deal would ‘Get Brexit Done’ – but the public saw through his BS.”

BBC heavyweight Andrew Neil criticised that neither leaders were given time to develop their arguments, branding the debate as “too rushed, too hectic.”

With eight minutes to go he said the debate was ‘now onto stupid questions.’ He later insisted he had “no criticism of the anchor [Julie Etchingham]. I blame the format.”

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, whose party yesterday lost a High Court battle against her exclusion from the head-to-head, tweeted a series of “what Johnson and Corbyn won’t tell you” throughout the debate.

Labour frontbencher Rebecca Long-Bailey told Sky News: “I thought Mr Johnson disintegrated on the big issues that are facing our country in terms of investing in our economy and infrastructure and tackling the NHS and climate change. He didn’t have any appropriate answers at all.”

Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly added: “We had one leader with a plan on the big issue of the day [Brexit] and another person, a lifelong activist, just failed completely.”

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