The Telegraph 2024-07-05 00:13:02

LIVE UK general election live: Kemi Badenoch attacks council over missing postal votes

Kemi Badenoch has attacked her local council over missing postal votes following delays in delivery and printing.

More than 2,600 postal ballots have been delayed in North West Essex, where the Business Secretary is seeking re-election, as a result of “human error”.

The local council chief executive said last week that he was “mortified” by the delays and that council workers were hand-delivering ballots in an attempt to get them to voters in time.

Ms Badenoch said: “Five years ago, all but four Conservatives on Uttlesford council were voted out. People wanted ‘Change’. Instead, they got ‘Change for the WORSE’, electing an independent residents group who ran a blame-the-Tories campaign.

“The community is now saddled with council leadership unable to carry out basic functions competently…. Now they’ve potentially disenfranchised up to 2,600 postal voters by FORGETTING to send them their ballot papers. Don’t change for the worse.”

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The Secret Tory Candidate: I’ve already written my concession speech. I’ve no idea what I’ll do next

Eerily, I’ve hardly seen my Labour opponent and their supporters in recent days. I suspect they have had a direction from Labour HQ that they’ve got this seat in the bag and that their resources are best deployed elsewhere. Based on everything I’ve heard before today, I imagine that will turn out to be the correct choice.

It’s only a matter of hours now until I’ll find out the result – and whether I’ll be back in Parliament or jobless come next week.

I am quietly confident that we’ll outperform the national swing here, which has become my focus. But there’s now only a very, very limited possibility that we could have a massive surprise here and win. I just want a respectable defeat. If I lose by 7 or 8 per cent, I can live with that.

I’ve already sketched out a concession speech, and I’m hoping to be able to say that my defeat was quite narrow. When the result is in, I’m not going to hold back about our national campaign and the fact that we will have lost as a result of being insufficiently conservative.

I’ll spend the rest of today trying to get our supporters out to vote. At the end of last week we changed our strategy to focus on targeting the people we know are Conservative voters. I’m knocking on doors with a very small team. Unlike in 2019, we haven’t had mutual aid from other seats because there just aren’t the numbers of activists willing to help.

We’ve got campaign centres in different parts of the constituency. I started door knocking at 9am and will probably carry on until a couple of hours before polls close. Others are delivering letters to our voters. If it doesn’t seem to be having much of an effect we might just stop earlier.

A couple of hours before polls close I will go for a drink and some dinner. I definitely won’t go to the count when it opens at 10pm – I’ll be watching the exit poll with a group of friends. I’ll get updates from people at the count on how it’s going. I’ll then head to the count in the early hours so I can just come in at the moment the result is going to be declared and walk straight onto the stage.

Particularly if it’s going to be a difficult result and you’ve got crowing Labour activists, you want to minimise your time there.

After the declaration I’ll join some friends and activists to watch the results come in over some drinks. Then I plan to get five or six hours’ sleep before waking up to face reality.

MPs who are voted out have a four-month winding-up period for our offices, during which we can keep on a member of staff to hand over constituency casework. In that time I will also have to move out of my constituency home.

I haven’t planned what I’m going to do next. I might go abroad for a little while. But I do want to see what’s going to happen in the Conservative Party. If a leadership candidate I support takes over from Rishi then I might want to work for them.

I’m incredibly political. And I absolutely will not be leaving politics at all – not even in the short term.

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Starmer to win Labour’s largest ever majority, final Telegraph poll shows

Sir Keir Starmer is set to win the largest Labour majority in history, The Telegraph’s final opinion poll of the campaign has found.

Labour is on course to win 39 per cent of the vote – almost twice as much as the Conservatives – in a landslide victory.

It would represent a dire night for Rishi Sunak and would likely see the Conservatives reduced to around 100 MPs.

In contrast Sir Keir would enter No 10 with a huge majority, almost certainly bigger than the 179 seat one achieved by Sir Tony Blair in 1997.

The survey, carried out by Savanta, comes after other polls also predicted that the Tories are on course to achieve their worst-ever result.

Mr Sunak’s campaign has been dogged by a series of setbacks and the rapid rise of Reform which has poached traditional Right-wing voters.

Savanta’s poll shows that Nigel Farage’s party is on course to win 17 per cent of the vote, which is just three points shy of the Conservatives on 20 per cent.

The first past the post system means Reform is unlikely to win more than two or three seats, though Mr Farage is expected to triumph in Clacton.

In contrast the Liberal Democrats are set to return dozens of MPs to parliament and seize Tory seats across the south despite only securing 10 per cent.

Chris Hopkins, the director of Savanta, said that the company’s poll suggests Sir Keir is on course to achieve a record-breaking supermajority.

“If our findings are replicated at the election, he will find himself leading the largest Labour majority in modern history, overturning in one fell swoop what seemed like an insurmountable Conservative victory in 2019,” he said.

It comes after three eve-of-election MRP polls, all published on Wednesday afternoon, showed that Labour is set to win more than 400 seats.

Each of the surveys, carried out by More in Common, Focaldata and YouGov, projected that Sir Keir will enter power with a majority north of 200.

But the Tories are set to be decimated and reduced to a rump of little more than 100 MPs.

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Just how bad will it be for the Tories? John Curtice’s final prediction

A forest of final estimates is anticipated in this final 24 hours of the campaign. But unless they indicate that there has been a dramatic last-minute turnaround, it looks as though Sir Keir Starmer will become Prime Minister on Friday. What remains uncertain is just how badly things might turn out for the Conservatives.

The first uncertainty are the don’t knows. The polls are still reporting that on average those who voted Conservative in 2019 are twice as likely as those who voted Labour to say that they do not know how they will vote on Thursday. This is, in truth, one of the many symptoms of the wave of unpopularity from which the party has struggled to escape ever since Liz Truss left Downing St in October 2022. Many undecideds are as unhappy with the Conservatives as those who say they are going to vote differently this time around – they just are not sure what to do as a result.

Still, if any group of voters is going to drift back to the Conservatives in the final hours the undecideds are probably the most likely to do so. But even if all of them eventually vote for the party they backed in 2019, there are not enough of them to do more than put a three or four point dent in Labour’s lead.

The second uncertainty is how the electoral system will reward whatever share of the vote the Conservatives eventually acquire. A key message of the numerous MRP megapolls that have sprouted up during this election campaign has been that support for the party is falling more heavily in constituencies that the party is trying to defend.

In part this is arithmetically inevitable – the polls suggest the party’s vote could fall by 25 points across the country as a whole, but there are over 100 constituencies where the party did not win as much as 25 per cent last time. 

At the same time, however, Reform are most likely to damage the Conservatives’ prospects in Tory-held seats. Reform’s predecessor party, the Brexit Party, did not stand in Conservative-held seats last time, and so whatever they win this time in these seats – primarily at the expense of the Conservatives – will be an increase on zero.

However the polls do not agree on just how strong this pattern will prove to be. Mr Sunak has to hope that it proves not so strong after all.

John Curtice is Professor of Politics, University of Strathclyde, and Senior Fellow, National Centre for Social Research and ‘The UK in a Changing Europe’. He is also co-host of the Trendy podcast.

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How to vote in the general election

  • Follow The Telegraph’s latest general election live blog

Britain will head to the polls today for the general election, the first national vote since Boris Johnson triumphed for the Conservatives in 2019. 

Here, The Telegraph sets out everything you need to know about how and where to vote today, finding your nearest polling station and what you need to bring with you.

  • How do I vote? 
  • Am I registered to vote?
  • How to vote in person
  • How to vote by post
  • How to vote by proxy
  • How to apply for an emergency proxy vote
  • Where do I vote?
  • Can I vote at any polling station?
  • Where is my polling station? 
  • What time do polling stations open and close?
  • What do I need to bring with me to vote?
  • What ID can I use to vote?
  • Do I need my polling card to vote?
  • Can I vote online?

How do I vote?

Any British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen who is resident at a UK address and 18 or older can vote today.

In any case, to be able to vote you need to be registered to do so already. The deadline passed on June 18 at 11.59pm and anyone who did not register in time will not be able to vote or register for a postal or proxy vote.

For those who are registered, there are three ways of voting: in person at a polling station, by post or by proxy.

Anyone wishing to vote by post or proxy needs to have completed an additional registration, the deadlines for both of which have now passed, although it may still be possible to apply for an emergency proxy vote in certain circumstances.

  • Read the latest election polls

Am I registered to vote?

You can check if you are on the electoral register by contacting your local electoral registration office.

The name and address of everyone who successfully registered to vote, unless they have done so anonymously, is added to the electoral register. During registration, there is also an option to opt out of the open register, which is a version of the electoral register that is available to anyone who wants to buy a copy.

How to vote in person

You can vote in person today at your designated local polling station, providing you bring a valid photo ID.

A poll card is sent out before the election to everyone who has registered to vote which details where your designated polling station is and reminding you when it is open, which will be from 7am to 10pm at every site today.

On arrival at the polling station, you will need to confirm your name and address with staff and show your photo ID before they can provide you with the ballot paper you need to cast your vote.

How to vote by post

You also have the option to select your candidate by post, which can be done if you will not be able to attend a polling station in person today or if it is more convenient for you.

To do so, you must have registered to vote and also have completed the postal vote application before the deadline, which passed at 5pm on June 19.

Those who applied for a postal vote will have automatically been sent a postal ballot. All the necessary information on how to correctly select a candidate and send in your vote is provided on the form.

It is advised that postal voters fill out their forms and send them for free via the Post Office or a postbox as soon as they can.

There is no formal deadline for when the ballot needs to be sent off. But if you did so too close to the deadline, it may not be delivered in time to be counted.

Despite reports of delays, Royal Mail said they “remain confident” that postal votes received on time will be delivered before the end of the day. You can read more about what to do if your postal ballot is delayed here.

Alternatively, you can take your completed form to your local polling station and deliver it by hand before the polls close at 10pm today.

How to vote by proxy

You can get someone else to vote on your behalf if you cannot attend a polling station in person, are registered as an overseas voter, have a medical issue or disability, or cannot vote in person because of work or military service.

The deadline for registering to vote by proxy passed at 5pm on June 26. You must also have already registered to vote.

You will need to tell your chosen proxy who to vote for, so they should be someone you trust to vote on your behalf. They must also be registered to vote and can do so at the polling station specified on your poll card.

How to apply for an emergency proxy vote

If you missed the deadline, you may be able to put in an application for an emergency proxy vote up until 5pm today in certain cases, including: 

  • Lost photo ID
  • Medical emergency or disability
  • Due to your employment
  • New or replacement photo ID order not arriving on time

To apply, you need to fill out one of three forms, depending on your circumstance, and send it to your local Electoral Registration Office. There are separate forms for reasons relating to employment, medical emergency or disability and to photo ID.

If you are applying for an emergency proxy vote because of a medical emergency, disability or your employment, you will need to get your application form signed by an “appropriate person” such as a doctor or employer before submitting it.

Where do I vote?

You vote in person at a polling station, which is usually a public building such as a school or local hall.

If you require physical access, a disabled parking space or a large print version of the ballot, your local Electoral Registration Office can tell you about what is provided at your polling station.

Can I vote at any polling station?

It is only possible to vote at your designated polling station. Usually, this is the nearest one to the address you are registered at.

Where is my polling station?

Local Electoral Registration Offices can provide information about where the nearest polling station is – but voters are also sent a poll card that says when the vote is and which station to attend.

What time do polling stations open and close?

Polling stations will be open today from 7am to 10pm.

What do I need to bring with me to vote?

A valid photo ID is all you are required to bring with you to the polling station to be able to vote today. 

What ID can I use to vote?

The name on the ID must match the name provided on the electoral register, otherwise, a voter can bring a document with them to the polling station that proves they have changed their name.

Since May 2023, voters in England, Wales and Scotland have needed to provide a form of photographic ID at the ballot box. Voters in Northern Ireland also need to do so.

For the general election, voters will need to show a form of identification such as a driving licence, passport or blue badge to be able to cast their vote.

Voters were also able to apply for a free voter authority certificate (VAC) either online or by post if they did not have an accepted photographic ID available.

The deadline to apply for a VAC passed on June 26 at 5pm and was done through the Electoral Commission’s website

Do I need my polling card to vote?

No, you do not need to bring your poll card with you to be able to vote today. Your poll card should have been sent to you just before election day and if you have not received one but think you should have, you can contact your local Electoral Registration Office.

Can I vote online?

No, it is not possible to vote in the general election online.

Experts say that security and anonymity concerns make it difficult to implement an online voting system.

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How the 2024 manifestos compare: Labour, Reform, Lib Dems and the Conservatives on key issues

  • Follow The Telegraph’s latest general election live blog

As Britain head to the polls today to elect its next government, each party is hoping that the promises set out in their manifestos last month have connected with voters.

Heading into the general election with a 20-point lead, Sir Keir Starmer urged voters to back Labour to “rebuild our country”, having unveiled his Change document in Manchester on June 13.

But he was forced to reject allegations of being “captain cautious”, with the manifesto not containing any major surprise policies.

On June 11, Rishi Sunak said, as he launched the Tory manifesto at Silverstone, that he had “bold” ideas, warning the electorate against handing Sir Keir a “blank cheque”.

But the Prime Minister’s document was met with private doubts from some Tory candidates that it would be enough to win.

  • Read the latest election polls

Nigel Farage set out Reform UK’s vision for repairing a “skint” UK as he launched its “contract with the people” on June 17. However, his spread of tax cuts, spending increases and spending reductions faced accusations of “magical thinking”.

Elsewhere, Sir Ed Davey’s Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto in north London on June 10, hoping to win voters over with the motto: “For a fair deal.”

  • Labour’s full manifesto 
  • Reform UK’s full manifesto 
  • Conservative’s full manifesto
  • Lib Dem’s full manifesto

Here, The Telegraph looks at how the manifestos and their promises stack up on polling day:

Tax policy

Labour has unveiled £8.6 million of tax rises by 2028-29, with raids on private schools, overseas property investors and non-doms.

It also set out its plans for a windfall tax on oil and gas giants, which it says will raise £1.2 billion per year.

The manifesto reiterated the promise not to raise National Insurance, income tax or VAT.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives offered a variety of tax cuts, including a further 2 per cent cut to NI and abolishing it altogether for four million self-employed workers, as well as abolishing stamp duty for first-time buyers on homes worth up to £425,000.

Reform proposed raising the minimum income tax threshold from £12,571 to £20,000, scrapping stamp duty for properties worth less than £750,000 and “abolishing” inheritance tax for estates under £2 million.

Their raft of tax cuts also includes lowering fuel duty and reducing VAT, which they would not charge on energy bills.

The Liberal Democrats promised to more than double capital gains tax for top earners, triple the digital services tax on social media firms and tech giants, and implement a one-off windfall tax on the “super-profits” of oil and gas producers.

Immigration policy 

Labour has promised to reduce net migration, with measures such as banning employers who breach employment law from recruiting overseas workers.

The party also pledged to reform the current points-based approach, and to upskill British workers in sectors where immigration is currently used to address skills shortages.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have unveiled plans to introduce a “binding, legal” annual cap on visas, giving Parliament an annual vote on the numbers recommended by Government migration advisers.

The manifesto also includes a commitment to raise salary requirements for skilled workers in line with inflation every year so that they do not “undercut UK workers”.

Leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and an immigration tax on foreign employees headline Reform’s central aim of ending illegal immigration and freezing “non-essential” legal migration.

The Liberal Democrats would negotiate “low-cost, fast-tracked work visas” to tackle labour shortages in “key economic sectors”, exempt NHS staff from the immigration skills charge and reverse the ban on care workers bringing partners and children.

Tackling small boats

On tackling illegal migration, Labour has committed to putting an end to the Rwanda scheme, which it called a “desperate gimmick”.

Instead, it plans to set up a new Border Security Command with “hundreds of new investigators, intelligence officers and cross-border police officers”.

It will also seek a new security agreement with the European Union in order to access intelligence and lead joint investigations with EU counterparts.

The Conservatives are sticking with the Rwanda scheme as they promised to run a “relentless, continual process of permanently removing illegal migrants” .

The manifesto also opens the door to possibly leaving the European Court on Human Rights by vowing to put UK border security ahead of membership of a foreign court.

The party has also set up plans to sign further returns deals, like the one agreed with Albania.

Reform said they would deem illegal migration a national security threat and that migrants would be picked up out of boats and taken back to France.

The party also wants to replace the Home Office with a new Department for Immigration.

The Liberal Democrats fiercely oppose the Government’s Rwanda plan and would scrap it along with the Illegal Migration Act, instead providing “safe and legal routes to sanctuary for refugees” and increasing cooperation with Europol.


Labour has said it will cut NHS waiting lists so that patients will wait no longer than 18 weeks from referral for non-urgent health conditions.

This would involve delivering an extra 40,000 more appointments each week and training “thousands more GPs”, although it does not state how many. They also want to overhaul the “8am scramble” appointment booking system.

Sir Keir’s party has also set out a Dentistry Rescue Plan to provide 700,000 more urgent dental appointments a year, 100,000 of which will be for children. It will also introduce a supervised tooth-brushing scheme for three to five year olds.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have said that they will deliver 92,000 more nurses and 28,000 more doctors by the end of the next Parliament as part of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan – a pledge that Labour has matched.

The Tories will also provide 2.5 million more dental appointments, and have committed to increasing NHS spending above inflation each year.

The party has also vowed to drive up productivity in the NHS, move care closer to people’s homes by utilising pharmacies, and create more community diagnostic centres.

Reform vowed to cut NHS waiting lists to zero in the space of two years with an income tax exemption for front-line workers and a 20 per cent tax relief for private healthcare and insurance, with more private providers used by the NHS.

The Liberal Democrats promised to give everyone the right to see their GP within seven days, or 24 hours if it’s urgent, boosting the number of full-time equivalent GPs by 8,000 in order to achieve this.

Sir Ed Davey also wants to introduce free personal care, increase the minimum wage for carers by £2 per hour and create a “dad month” to encourage paternity leave.

Education and childcare policy

Labour has promised to recruit 6,500 more teachers and put mental health specialists in every school, funded by imposing VAT on private school fees. It will also introduce free breakfast clubs in every primary school.

In terms of childcare, the party has said it would open an additional 3,000 primary school-based nurseries, and has promised to review the parental leave system within the first year of government.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have promised that new teachers in priority areas would receive bonuses of up to £30,000 tax-free over five years, to boost recruitment. Rishi Sunak also pledged to create a further 100,000 apprenticeships by 2029, paid for by scrapping “poor quality” degrees.

The Tories vowed to deliver the largest expansion of childcare in history, giving parents with children from nine months old access to 30 hours of free childcare a week from September 2025.

Reform would also target “rip off” degrees, scrapping interest on student loans and requiring universities to provide two-year courses to reduce student debt and allow graduates to enter the workforce earlier.

The party also want to ban teaching gender ideology and critical race theory in schools and review the curriculum to make it more “patriotic”.

Elsewhere, the Liberal Democrats would match Labour’s pledge to put a qualified mental health professional in every school. It would also increase school and college funding per pupil above the rate of inflation each year and hand out £10,000 to every UK adult to spend on “education and training throughout their lives”.

Defence policy

The Conservatives have sought to put defence at the heart of today’s election, with promises to increase military spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2030, a timeline Labour does not match.

The Tories also pledged £3 billion a year to support Ukraine, and to bring back National Service for school leavers.

Meanwhile, Labour said it will “set out a path” to 2.5 per cent defence spending and in its manifesto states its commitment to the nuclear deterrent as “absolute”.

Reform have also promised to increase defence spending, to 2.5 per cent by 2027 before rising to 3 per cent by 2030. 

Mr Farage wants to form a fully-fledged Department for Veterans’ Affairs and offer free education to troops and veterans alike, as well as increase basic pay across the forces.

The Liberal Democrats said they would reverse government cuts to troop numbers and maintain UK support for Nato but would also seek multilateral global disarmament and block arms exports to countries with poor human rights records.

Net zero 

Labour has set the date to reach clean power by 2030, working with the private sector to double offshore wind, triple solar power and quadruple offshore wind by that date.

Its plans will be partly achieved through the creation of a new publicly-owned energy company, Great British Energy.

Labour will not issue new oil and gas licences in the North Sea, but pledges not to revoke existing ones.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have branded their net zero plans “affordable and pragmatic”, saying they will ensure annual licensing rounds for oil and gas in the North Sea.

They have pledged to treble offshore wind and have said they would seek “democratic consent” for onshore wind and “support solar in the right places”.

Mr Sunak’s party has also pledged to ensure household green levies on household bills are cut.

In contrast, Reform insists the UK’s flagship green goals make taxpayers worse off and would abandon all existing carbon emissions targets, with plans to accelerate oil and gas licences in the North Sea, build high-efficiency gas turbines and restart coal mines instead.

The Liberal Democrats would take a different approach, promising to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045, five years earlier than the current UK target.

The party says they will achieve this with a raft of green policies including generating 90 per cent of electricity from renewables by 2030, providing free retrofits for low-income homes, requiring new cars to produce zero emissions from 2030 and shifting the tax burden onto frequent flyers.

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