General election 2024 live: Tory betting scandal grows ahead of BBC Question Time show

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
NationalWorld’s reporters from across the UK will bring you the latest news from the general election 2024 campaign trail.

Follow our live blog below for all the updates and analysis ahead of polling day on 4 July.

LIVE: general election 2024

Gove: Gambling investigation 'doesn't look great'

Michael Gove has spoken to reporters on the Tory battle bus about the Gambling Commission investigations. He said: “Obviously, it doesn’t look great. And, obviously, the conclusions lots of people are drawing are not at all great.

“But I don’t know all the facts at the moment. I’d be loath to condemn without there being an investigation that’s been concluded.”

Michael Gove (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images)Michael Gove (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images)
Michael Gove (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images)

Laura Saunders' husband investigated by Gambling Commission - BBC reports

The BBC is reporting that Tony Lee, the husband of Laura Saunders, is also being investigated by the Gambling Commission. Lee is the Conservative Party’s campaign director, and has reportedly taken a leave of absence two weeks before polling day.

Saunders is the candidate in Bristol North West who is being investigated for allegedly placing bets on the timing of the general election. Read more through the link below.

According to the bookies OLBG, in March the odds for a July election were 69/1, however by the start of May they had shortened to 7/1.

Tory betting scandal grows

The investigation into Tories allegedly betting on the election date is growing. Bristol North West candidate Laura Saunders, who is married to the Tory Party’s campaign chief, is facing a Gambling Commission investigation into alleged betting offences.

News of that investigation followed the arrest of one of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s police protection officers and a Gambling Commission investigation into his parliamentary aide Craig Williams over betting allegations.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove told the BBC: “If people have used inside information to place bets, that is deeply wrong. What I can’t do is sort of get too much into the detail of the case while an investigation is going on.

Craig Williams MP who is facing a Gambling Commission probe after he "put a flutter" on when the general election would take placeCraig Williams MP who is facing a Gambling Commission probe after he "put a flutter" on when the general election would take place
Craig Williams MP who is facing a Gambling Commission probe after he "put a flutter" on when the general election would take place

“But I can talk about the broad principle and you’re absolutely right, it’s reprehensible.”

In response to the latest allegations about Saunders, a Conservative spokesman said: “We have been contacted by the Gambling Commission about a small number of individuals. As the Gambling Commission is an independent body, it wouldn’t be proper to comment further, until any process is concluded.”

The Gambling Commission said: “Currently the commission is investigating the possibility of offences concerning the date of the election. This is an ongoing investigation, and the commission cannot provide any further details at this time.”

Nigel Farage set to win Clacton, poll finds

Nigel Farage is set to become an MP, Survation’s constituency poll in Clacton has found. If the election was held today, the pollster thinks Farage would get 42% of the vote with the Tory Giles Watling on 27%. Labour’s Jovan Owusu-Nepaul is slightly further behind on 24%.

Clacton was the only seat won by Ukip in the 2015 election, returning Douglas Carswell who had previously defected from the Tories. Watling won a huge 25,000 majority in 2019, however now 50% of the party’s 2019 voters say they will vote for Farage.

Damian Lyons Lowe, the chief executive of Survation, said: “The projected swing in Clacton from the Conservative Party to the Reform UK party is 43.5%. This is considerably larger than many significant historical swings.

Survation's Clacton poll. Credit: SurvationSurvation's Clacton poll. Credit: Survation
Survation's Clacton poll. Credit: Survation | Survation

“The swing currently projected in Clacton, from a 72% Conservative vote share in 2019 to a 42 per cent vote share for Nigel Farage’s Reform UK in 2024, would indeed be unprecedented in modern UK electoral history. This kind of dramatic shift highlights a significant realignment of voter preferences and could signal broader changes in the political landscape.”

Farage said: “This poll shows Reform will win seats at the election. I think many people are going to be surprised on 4 July. If you vote Reform, you get Reform.”

Will the Bank of England cut the base rate?

The big question now is will the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee vote to cut the base interest rate tomorrow - which is been stuck at a 16-year high of 5.25% for months. This would likely mean quite a significant drop in mortgage rates. However most economists believe this is unlikely, which is bad news for Rishi Sunak.

Suren Thiru, economics director at Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), said: “Despite this landmark fall in inflation, concerns over both underlying price pressures and changing policy in the run-up to a General Election means a June interest rate cut is almost certainly off the table.”

Robert Wood, at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said higher services inflation could mean a rate cut is now pushed back until September. While George Sweeney (DipFA), investing expert at personal finance comparison site finder.com said he thought the Bank of England wouldn’t cut the base rate until August.

He said: “These figures should offer a glimmer of hope to mortgage holders whose household budgets have been squeezed over the last couple of years by crippling borrowing rates, as indicators continue to point towards an incoming base rate cut. However, if the BoE does decide to bring the base rate down in the August meeting, I don’t think it’s likely to be by much.

“Particularly, because the BoE has predicted a possible inflation spike up to 2.5% later this year. And, with all the hard work getting to this point, the BoE will be cautious about triggering further inflationary spikes if they appear to be overzealous.”

Inflation drops to 2% Bank of England target

Rishi Sunak has got a big boost this morning as the consumer price index inflation rate has dropped to 2%, which is the Bank of England target. It’s the lowest it has been since July 2021, after it hit a 40-year high of 11.1% in October 2022.

The Prime Minister insisted the milestone shows the economy has “turned the corner”, ending nearly three years of above-target inflation. Remember Sunak was convinced to call the election early as inflation dropped to 2.3%, hoping there would be a rates cut by the Bank of England. They meet tomorrow ...

Farage BBC interview to air on Friday

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage will be interviewed by BBC journalist Nick Robinson on Friday evening, according to the veteran broadcaster.

Robinson tweeted: “@Nigel_Farage has now agreed to be interviewed by me this Friday at 7pm on @BBCPanorama on @BBCOne.”

This was initially supposed to happen last week, but was pulled at the last minute.

Starmer says he wants 'every child to have same opportunities' on private school VAT plan

Starmer was taken to task over Labour’s plans to remove a VAT tax break for private schools on the LBC call in.

Michelle Catterson, head of Moon Hall School in Reigate, which caters for dyslexic children, told the radio station she thinks the policy means Labour does not care about youngsters with special needs, after warning that many of her pupils without education, health and care plans would be forced into the state sector.

Starner replied: “Well, Michelle, we do care. I want every single child, whether they go to private or state school, to have the same opportunities. It really matters to me.”

He said Labour’s policy would provide an exemption for children who have a plan in place and cannot get the help they need in the state sector, and promised to respond to a letter the headteacher had sent him.

Starmer says 'we're not rejoining' EU

Keir Starmer has been on LBC this morning, answering questions from voters and Nick Ferrari. Responding to a question about Brexit, the Labour leader said: “As you know I voted Remain and campaigned to Remain, but we have left the EU and we’re not rejoining and that means we’re not going to rejoin the single market or customs union or reintroduce freedom of movement.”

On the current trading deal with the EU, Starmer said: “I think the deal we’ve got is a botched deal ... I was at Southampton Port, talk to anyone who works at the border - they will say they’ve now got all sort of checks and balances that aren’t necessary and can be improved.”

When asked what he would do, the Labour leader just said he “would seek a better deal”. Easier said than done ...

Need to know: Key policies from Reform's manifesto

Immigration

  • a “freeze” on non-essential immigration “to protect our culture and identity”
  • immigrants who commit crimes would have their UK citizenship withdrawn, with the exception of “some misdemeanour offences”.
  • ban international students from bringing dependents to the UK. 
  • National insurance would be raised to 20% for “foreign workers”

Police

  • launch zero-tolerance policing, with drug dealing and trafficking crimes receiving life imprisonment.
  • increase stop and searches “substantially” by recruiting 40,000 new police officers in the next five years
  • police community support officer roles (PCSO) will be phased out and instead PCSOs will become police officers.
  •  a change to the definition of a hate crime is also proposed

Economy

  • simplify” the UK’s tax system
  • introduce an “online delivery tax” at 4% for large companies
  • cut fuel duty by 20p per litre, scrap VAT on energy bills, and cut stamp duty to 0% on sales below £750,000.
  • inheritance tax to be scrapped for 98% of all estates

Education

  • ban on “transgender ideology”
  • launches a “patriotic curriculum”, which would include pairing the teaching of Britain’s history of slavery or European imperialism, with a non-European occurrence to “ensure balance”.
  • two-year university courses and mandatory permanent exclusions for violent children are also promised.

Health

  • all NHS and social care staff will pay zero basic rate tax for three years
  • a tax relief of 20% on all private healthcare and insurance
  • launches a public inquiry into vaccine harms

Defence

  • increase defence spending to 2.5% of GDP within three years
  • recruit 30,000 people to the army full time
  • bring forward Armed Forces Justice Bill to “protect” those in the armed forces from civil law and human rights lawyers.

Housing

  • abolish the Renters (Reform) Bill
  • review the planning system and introduce “loose fit planning policy” for residential developments

Transport

  • to scrap HS2 to save £25 billion
  • ban on Ulez and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs)

Culture

  • make St George’s Day and St David’s Day a public holiday
  • bring forward a Free Speech Bill to “stop left-wing bias and politically correct ideology”.
  • scrap TV licence

Peers

  • replace the “crony-filled House of Lords” with a “smaller, more democratic” second chamber and end political appointees.
  • replace civil service leaders with “successful professionals from the private sector” which are appointed by the government.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.