Johnson and Corbyn come out neck-and-neck in poll after leaders' debate

19 November 2019, 21:18

Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn shake hands during the debate
Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn shake hands during the debate. Picture: ITV

By Asher McShane

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn have come out neck-and-neck following a high-profile leaders' debate ahead of the general election.

Opinion was split over who actually "won" the night, with most snap polls putting the party leaders practically neck-and-neck.

YouGov polling found that the leaders drew in the eyes of the public. Some 51 per cent of Britons believe Mr Johnson won the debate, while 49 per cent percent believe Mr Corbyn won.

In further results, YouGov’s snap poll revealed 45 per cent thought Mr Corbyn was the more trustworthy of the pair, with 40 per cent for Mr Johnson.

On likeability, 54 per cent said Boris Johnson compared to 37 per cent for Mr Corbyn.

On being ‘in touch’, 59 per cent said Mr Corbyn, and 25 per cent for Mr Johnson, but 54 per cent said Mr Johnson was the more prime ministerial compared to 29 per cent for Mr Corbyn.

Chris Curtis, YouGov's Political Research Manager, 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."

The Tories claimed victory afterwards. The official Conservative Party Twitter account posted that Boris Johnson was the "clear winner."

In the opening exchanges of the TV debate hosted by ITV, the Prime Minister warned the UK faced more "dither and delay" under a Labour government.

Mr Corbyn dismissed Boris Johnson's pledge to "get Brexit done" by the end of January as "nonsense".

The Prime Minister said a vote for the Conservatives would be a vote to finally "get Brexit done".

"If you vote for us, we have a deal that is ready to go. Approved by every one of the 635 Conservatives candidates standing at this election," he said.

"As soon as we can get that deal through Parliament, as we can in the next few weeks, we can get on with the people's priorities."

But Mr Corbyn retorted that he could not deliver on what he was promising.

"That idea that the Prime Minister Boris Johnson' deal can be dealt with and finished by the end of January is such nonsense," he said.

"What he is proposing is a trade deal which will take at least seven years to negotiate whilst at the same time saying he will negotiate a special trade deal with the European Union.

"The two things are actually incompatible."

Mr Corbyn defended Labour's strategy to negotiate a new deal with the EU within three months of taking office and then put it to voters in a referendum within six months.

However he was taunted by Mr Johnson over his refusal to say which way he would vote, saying: "Are you going to campaign for Leave or Remain?"

The Labour leader hit back accusing him of conducting secret meetings with the US about opening up the NHS to American companies in a future trade deal.

Mr Johnson, however, said the claim was "an absolute invention".

"It is completely untrue. There are no circumstances whatever in which this Government or any Conservative government will put the NHS on the table in any trade negotiation," he said.

The Conservative Party faced criticism after one of its official Twitter accounts was rebranded as a fact checking service during the debate.

The Conservative Campaign Headquarters press office account was renamed "factcheckUK" during the ITV broadcast, offering commentary on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's statements and retweeting messages supporting Boris Johnson.

The move was criticised by independent fact-checking charity Full Fact, which tweeted: "It is inappropriate and misleading for the Conservative press office to rename their twitter account 'factcheckUK' during this debate.

"Please do not mistake it for an independent fact checking service such as @FullFact, @FactCheck or @FactCheckNI"

The @CCHQpress account is verified by Twitter, displaying a blue tick which is intended to denote that a user is genuine.

The Liberal Democrat press office posted an image suggesting they were reporting the account to Twitter for "pretending to be me or someone else".

They tweeted: "And people wonder why trust in politics has been eroded @CCHQPress"

The Conservative Party has been contacted for comment.