Election latest: Tom Tugendhat says Nigel Farage sounds like 'Putin's poodle' on Ukraine - but Reform leader doubles down in war row (2024)

Key points
  • Politics Hub is live on Sky News now
  • Farage under fire for 'disgraceful' comments on Ukraine war
  • Minister calls Farage 'Putin's poodle'|PM says Farage 'wrong'
  • Ali Fortescue:Farage is doubling down but will be cautious about scaring voters
  • Jon Craig:Has the Reform UK leader made his first campaign mistake?
  • Reform UK's tax plans disproportionately benefit high earners, analysis shows
  • Labour unveil 'Tory s***show' attack ad
  • Live reporting by Katie Williams
Election essentials
  • Manifesto pledges:Alliance Party|Conservatives|Greens|Labour|Lib Dems|Plaid Cymru|Reform|SNP|Sinn Fein|Workers Party
  • Trackers:Who's leading polls?|Is PM keeping promises?
  • Campaign Heritage:Memorable moments from elections gone by
  • Follow Sky's politics podcasts:Electoral Dysfunction|Politics At Jack And Sam's
  • Read more:Who is standing down?|Key seats to watch|What counts as voter ID?|Check if your constituency is changing|Guide to election lingo|Sky's election night plans

19:42:44

Pollster reveals scepticism that Reform will beat Tories' vote share

Next up on the show is pollsterScarlett Maguire, director at JL Partners.

She's asked first about the big polling story of the campaign, which has been the rise of Reform UK support in the UK.

Asked if the Conservatives should be worried about, Ms Maguire says she is "sceptical" that Reform could end up with a greater share of the vote than the Tories - in part because they are not standing in every seat.

However she notes the rise of Reform has been "the defining feature of this campaign - or at least the only real action we've seen in the polls".

Ms Maguire says Rishi Sunak's decision to call the election while 20 points down in the polls was unprecedented.

"He desperately needed a campaign where he could win back those voters that started voting reform and also win back those conservatives that were now telling pollsters they don't know. So far, he's not done either," she says.

19:37:07

Panel discussion: How worried will Labour be by JK Rowling comments?

Next up is a discussion with the Politics Hub panel on JK Rowling's accusation in The Times newspaper that the Labour party is "abandoning women".

In a 2,000-word essay, the author said she will "struggle to support" Labour if Sir Keir Starmer keeps his current stance on gender recognition.

Sir Keir has defended Labour's record on gender equality in response, saying he was "proud" of his party's history on the subject.

Charlie Rowley, former special adviser to Michael Gove, says the issue is a "sticky wicket" for Labour, but he adds that there are "so many other issues in society" that require focus.

"Party leaders shouldn't be getting caught up in the minutiae of this kind of conversation," he says.

Meanwhile, AvaSantina Evans, political correspondent at PoliticsJOE, says Labour advisers are worried the issue will "ramp up just before polling day".

She adds it's unfair to trans people in the UK "to experience this sort of rhetoric before the election".

"This election really is a lot to do with the politicisation of people's bodies," she says.

19:23:01

'Do you want to be leader of the Conservatives?'

Asked if he wants to be leader of the Conservative Party, Tom Tugendhat says he wants his party to get "as good a result as possible" in the election.

Mr Tugendhat, who is rumoured to be among the candidates who will run for leadership after 4 July, says he wants to make sure the Tories win and"prevent Keir Starmer from making all the terrible changes that he's proposed already".

Next questioned on whether he thinks the Conservatives will "tack to the right", the security minister says parties can make the biggest changes when "in the centre ground".

"We're a party of government, because the ideas and the ethos that the Conservative Party has - pro individual rights, pro people, pro-business - are absolutely key to making sure this country is safer and more prosperous," he says.

He says he does not accept that the Tories have drifted to the right.

19:18:51

Minister dodges question on why Tories are losing voters to Reform

Tom Tugendhat says he "has to accept" that Sir Keir Starmer is "currently front running for prime minister", as he dodges a question on Reform UK's threat to Tory support.

Asked why he thinks the Conservative Party appears to be losing voters to Reform, the security minister instead turns to the Labour leader, accusing him of "playing constitutional games".

Mr Tugendhat does not directly answer when pushed on the question by Ali Fortescue, as he says people should be "focusing on what the real challenges are today".

He cites security threats posed by Moscow and cyber attacks on British institutions as examples of such challenges.

19:10:01

Farage acting like Putin's poodle, minister says

First up on the show is security minister Tom Tugendhat.

Asked first about Nigel Farage's comments that the West "provoked" the Ukraine war, he says that for a man who "always claims to speak like Winston Churchill, he sounds an awful lot more like Neville Chamberlain".

He calls the Reform leader's remarks "appeasem*nt" and accused him of repeating Kremlin propaganda.

"During the Cold War, we had a word for people like that. We called them useful idiots. And it sounds to me like Nigel Farage is just being Putin's poodle on this," he says.

Questioned about members of his own party who've suggested Mr Farage should be welcomed into the Tories, MrTugendhat says there is "no place in Parliament or indeed in the Conservative Party for anybody who sides with our enemies".

Pressed on the issue that some Conservatives have been open to the idea of Mr Farage joining their party, the minister says "people who represent the British people in Parliament should put the virtues and interests and strengths of the British people first".

"They shouldn't undermine that by repeating the propaganda of those who are trying to undermine us," he adds.

19:04:50

Is this Farage's first campaign blunder?

Unpatriotic, an apologist for President Putin – they're not the claims you want against you in the last weeks before polling day.

Is this Nigel Farage's first big blunder? Tonight he's doubled down on his claim the West "provoked" Russia's invasion of Ukraine - telling The Telegraph "don’t blame me for telling the truth".

"If you poke the Russian bear with a stick don't be surprised if he responds." He did say he's never sought to justify Putin's invasion.

It may be may be there's no such thing as bad publicity for a man who wants to be outside the political mainstream.

But as his party gains ground you sense Nigel Farage is trying to smooth his harsher edges and will not want to scare off shy wavering Reform voters with less than two weeks to go.

19:00:59

Politics Hub With Ali Fortescue is live now

Our daily politics showPolitics Hubis live now on Sky News with ourpolitical correspondentAli Fortescuehosting this evening.

The fast-paced programme dissects the inner workings of Westminster, with interviews, insights, and analysis - bringing you, the audience, into the corridors of power.

Joining Ali tonight:

  • Tom Tugendhat, security minister
  • Scarlett Maguire, director at JL Partners polls

And on her panel are:

  • Ava Santina Evans, political correspondent at PoliticsJOE
  • Charlie Rowley, former special adviser to Michael Gove

Watch live on Sky News, in the stream at the top of this page, and follow live updates here in the Politics Hub.

WatchPolitics Hubfrom 7pm every night during the election campaign on Sky channel 501, Virgin channel 602, Freeview channel 233, on theSky News websiteandappor onYouTube.

18:45:01

Starmer defends record after JK Rowling says Labour 'abandoned women'

Sir Keir Starmer has defended Labour's record on gender equality after JK Rowling accused the party of "abandoning women".

The Downing Street hopeful said he was "proud" of his party's history on the subject after the Harry Potter author wrote a 2,000 word essay in The Times criticising his views.

Ms Rowling has been outspoken in her belief that biological women should be able to have separate spaces, which trans women - who were born male - should not be allowed access.

In the article, she said she would "struggle" to vote for Labour at the election, having donated to the party in the past, because of its "dismissive" stance on the issue and had a "poor opinion" of the party leader's character.

Read the full story here...

18:10:01

Coming up on Politics Hub With Ali Fortescue

Our daily politics showPolitics Hubwill be live on Sky News from 7pm with ourpolitical correspondentAli Fortescuehosting this evening.

The fast-paced programme dissects the inner workings of Westminster, with interviews, insights, and analysis - bringing you, the audience, into the corridors of power.

Joining Ali tonight:

  • Tom Tugendhat, security minister
  • Scarlett Maguire, director at JL Partners polls

And on her panel are:

  • Ava Santina Evans, political correspondent at PoliticsJOE
  • Charlie Rowley, former special adviser to Michael Gove

Watch live on Sky News, in the stream at the top of this page, and follow live updates here in the Politics Hub.

WatchPolitics Hubfrom 7pm every night during the election campaign on Sky channel 501, Virgin channel 602, Freeview channel 233, on theSky News websiteandappor onYouTube.

18:05:01

Poll tracker: Where do the parties stand today?

Our live poll tracker collates the results of opinion surveys carried out by all the main polling organisations - and allows you to see how the political parties are performing in the run-up to the general election.

It currently shows a drop in support in recent days for Labour and the Tories - with a jump for Reform and the Liberal Democrats.

Read more about the tracker here.

Election latest: Tom Tugendhat says Nigel Farage sounds like 'Putin's poodle' on Ukraine - but Reform leader doubles down in war row (2024)

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