The Telegraph 2024-07-05 12:13:12

LIVE General election latest: Starmer speaks after Labour wins election – watch live

Sir Keir Starmer is holding a victory rally in central London after Rishi Sunak conceded defeat in the general election.

The Labour leader told Labour activists: “We did it. You campaigned for it, you fought for it, you voted for it and now it has arrived: Change begins now.

“And it feels good, I have to be honest.” 

Labour has now officially won the election, having secured 330 seats – a majority in the House of Commons – with 475 out of 650 seats now having declared.

Sir Keir said: “Across our country people will be waking up to the news, relieved that a weight has been lifted, a burden finally removed from the shoulders of this great nation. 

“And now we can look forward again, walk into the morning, the sunlight of hope, pale at first but getting stronger through the day, shining once again on a country with the opportunity after 14 years to get its future back.” 

Find all the latest election results in your local area here.

You can follow the latest updates below and join the conversation in the comments.

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Starmer’s victory dubbed ‘a loveless landslide’ with fewer votes than Corbyn

Sir Keir Starmer is on course to win a lower share of the vote than Jeremy Corbyn in a “loveless landslide”, projections suggest.

Calculations based on the exit poll suggest that Labour will secure just 36 per cent of the vote despite a projected 170-seat majority.

A senior Tory said that such an outcome could create “a lot of tension” over the future of Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system.

Mr Corbyn, the former Labour leader, won 40 per cent of the vote when he led the party into the 2017 election, which he lost to Theresa May’s Conservative Party.

The exit poll has predicted that Sir Keir will win 410 seats in a landslide victory, with the Tories reduced to just 131 MPs in their worst ever result.

Reform UK, led by Nigel Farage, is projected to win 13 constituencies, while the Liberal Democrats are predicted to enjoy a resurgence with 61 seats.

But the expected margin of Labour’s victory in parliamentary seats may mask a poorer than expected performance in terms of vote share.

Projections based on the exit poll, carried out by Electoral Calculus for GB News, suggested that the party could end up on just 36.1 per cent of the vote.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are calculated to have secured 25.8 per cent, while Reform is put in third on 17.2 per cent, despite likely only winning a handful of seats.

In stark contrast, the Liberal Democrats, who are predicted to make huge inroads in Parliament, are only projected to have won 9.4 per cent of the vote.

Rory Stewart, a former Tory Cabinet minister, told Channel 4: “Labour may well have got a staggering majority with quite a low percentage of the vote.

“Reform may have ended up with quite a high percentage of the vote and a low number of seats. The Lib Dems might have got fewer votes and five times the number of seats.”

When the result was described on the programme as a “loveless landslide” he said: “I think it’s a big problem – 36 per cent of the vote in historical terms has been nothing.

“Nobody has won anything like this in history with 36 per cent of the vote. This is barely more than a third of the population voting for you.”

‘Electoral geography’ led to big win despite low vote share

Sir Keir’s projected share of the vote would be the lowest required to secure any parliamentary majority in recent times.

When Sir Tony Blair won his 179-seat majority against the Tories in 1997, he did so on the back of a 43.2 per cent share of the vote.

Boris Johnson won an 80-seat majority with 43.6 per cent at the last election in 2019, while David Cameron required 36.9 per cent in 2015 to secure a 10-seat majority.

Luke Tryl, the UK director at pollster More in Common, said the projected vote shares indicated “a desire for change but little confidence in anyone to deliver it”.

He added that “electoral geography” had led to Labour’s big win in spite of its low vote share.

Asked about her party’s projected low vote share, Dawn Butler, a Labour MP, told the BBC: “I think what the discussion will be about will be proportional representation.

“The public will be talking about proportional representation and whether we need to have a debate about it. I’ve always said that we do need to have a debate about it.”

The first-past-the-post system means that a relatively small number of votes spread out across the country can completely change the election result.

Pre-election analysis found that just 130,000 voters could have denied Labour its majority had they switched to the Tories.

Mr Corbyn’s former spokesman, Matt Zarb-Cousin, said: “Labour is already peddling a narrative that this victory is down to a changed Labour Party.

“The reality of course is Keir Starmer was holding the pass the parcel at the right time, when the Tories eventually imploded.

“So they’ve won by default, on a lower share of the vote than 2017.”

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Presenters struggled to contain glee at Tories’ fall as election night TV proved a turn off

“This is your voice. This is our country deciding: we’ve had enough.” Not the words of Sir Keir Starmer accepting victory, but of Emily Maitlis on Channel 4 greeting the exit poll. I swear you could see her vibrating with happiness. Freed from the shackles of BBC impartiality, she couldn’t hide her glee at the news of a Labour landslide.

Over on the BBC, Laura Kuenssberg and Clive Myrie were careful to keep their expressions neutral. Both kept cautioning that an exit poll is not a real result, like sensible parents warning the kids not to get drunk too early. But giddy Maitlis looked as if she had already popped open the champagne, and was all dressed up in a monochrome 1960s mini-dress to get the party started.

Meanwhile, Nadine Dorries was simmering in the Channel 4 studio like a woman who’s going to get thrown out of the pub for glassing someone before the night is out, and the chances are that the someone will be Alastair Campbell. She accused him of sexism when he needled her: “Honestly, Nadine, you’ve got to get over Boris Johnson.”

Her eyes blazed when he engaged her in a discussion about the House of Lords. Occasionally, one of the more moderate guests – Rory Stewart, Harriet Harman, Kwasi Karteng – would make a fruitless attempt to guide the conversation onto more civil territory.

There were too many people in the Channel 4 studio – Ann Widdecombe and Vince Cable were relegated to a B-list table that Maitlis would occasionally visit – and it all seemed a little manic. Maitlis and Krishnan Guru-Murthy didn’t gel at all, with the Channel 4 News anchor seeming far less assured than usual. He talked over her; she pretended he wasn’t there. 

Kuenssberg and Myrie worked much better together, and the BBC wisely kept things mostly to the two of them sitting behind a desk, plus Chris Mason providing analysis and regular reports from journalists around the country. Lord Mandelson kept popping up to revive memories of 1997. Steve Baker made the trip into the BBC studio, only for Kuenssberg to tell him that he had a less than 1 per cent chance of retaining his seat.

ITV’s coverage had the air of a boring middle-class dinner party hosted by Tom Bradby. Podcast pals George Osborne and Ed Balls huddled together, keeping their distance from Nicola Sturgeon (or perhaps it was the other way round). 

As for Sky News, a colleague messaged in the first minutes of their broadcast: “Are they high?” Kay Burley, Beth Rigby and their guests – Ruth Davidson and Andy Burnham – couldn’t stop giggling. Burnham asked if he could have a lager. David Bull, Reform deputy leader, came on and predicted that his party would soon overtake the Tories. “Calm yourself, will you?” hooted Davidson.

Away from the studio, the most dubious BBC decision was to have Victoria Derbyshire lurking in the dark outside Rishi Sunak’s house. “It’s very quiet,” she said, as it tends to be in the North Yorkshire countryside at 10pm. “All we could hear all night was the sound of wood pigeons. We could smell the cows in the field next door.”

She seemed surprised that the PM’s curtains and shutters were closed, but that might have had something to do with the fact that it was night time, and also because he’d noticed there was a woman from Newsnight standing in front of the windows with a camera crew.

Filling eight hours of live television is hard. Clive Myrie was already losing it before midnight, asking Angela Rayner: “You say you’re not counting your chickens – what kind of chickens might they be? What kind of chickens would you like to see?” 

Who knows what gibberish they’ll be spouting by breakfast time?

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Why pollsters overstated Labour’s victory

Pollsters overestimated the scale of the Labour victory by as many as 60 seats in the run-up to Thursday’s general election, exit polls suggest.

Final estimates earlier this week for the Tories varied from less than 50 seats to more than 126. Labour saw a similar wide range, with forecasts from 430 to 480.

For the Conservatives, the election has been fought against a backdrop of cataclysmic polling. In the final days of campaigning, the Tories warned that a vote for Labour would lead to a “supermajority” or, as Boris Johnson put it, a “sledgehammer majority”. Rishi Sunak insisted the result was not a “foregone conclusion”.

Exit polls suggest the Conservatives’ performance will be better than projected, with a predicted 131 seats, while Labour’s victory was overestimated, with exit polls giving them 410 seats.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party is expected to fall short of Sir Tony Blair’s record-breaking 179-seat majority in 1997, as well as his 2001 win.

Pollsters base their forecasts on surveys and a range of demographic data including estimated voting intention and turnout. The differing forecasts could be explained by a very slight overestimation of the Labour vote which could have resulted in a significant readjustment of seat numbers.

Polling firm More in Common was the most accurate, forecasting Conservative, Liberal Democrat and SNP seats within ten seats of their best estimate, according to exit polls. Their polling suggested the Conservatives would land 126 seats.

This was better than JL Partners, Survation and YouGov, which were out by up to 30 seats. In June, a few weeks before election day, Savanta forecast just 53 seats for the Tories.

All pollsters consistently overestimated Labour’s performance, with five of the nine major firms suggesting it would win more than 450 seats.

Survation was the most accurate when it came to third parties, predicting 61 seats for the Lib Dems, and was the only pollster to suggest more than a handful of seats for Reform UK.

The firm projected seven seats for Nigel Farage’s party, but exit polls have Reform winning as many as 13.

Almost all pollsters projected the collapse of the SNP, but not necessarily to the extent of the 10 seats currently forecast.

Polling groups also provide voting intention data, which estimates the vote share of each party.

The latest of these forecasts put Labour on 41 per cent of the national vote share, ahead of Conservatives on 21 per cent, Reform on 15 per cent and the Lib Dems on 11 per cent.

Exit polls do not supply this information, so a comparison with pre-election predictions will not be available until votes have been counted.

If the predictions were correct, however, it will be the Conservatives’ worst ever result by a considerable margin.

The seat forecasts are generally put out by pollsters using a method called multilevel regression with poststratification (MRP).

Votes across the UK and in your area

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This involves surveying thousands of individuals, with efforts made to capture a decent sample size in as many constituencies as possible. Results are then adjusted across all seats in the UK, taking into account demographics, previous voting trends and estimated turnout.

Forecasters will run hundreds of versions of these analyses, slightly tweaking variables such as turnout or voting intention. They will then produce constituency-level estimates based on the average outcome of these simulations.

Most pollsters also publish higher and lower estimates based on those different simulations, with the gaps often being considerable.

JL Partners, for example, which released its forecast on July 2, had a higher estimate for the Conservatives of 139 and lower estimate of 81 – a gap of 58 seats. Its upper estimates for Reform were also correct.

However, it was one of the few pollsters to factor that into its figures.

YouGov suggested that as few as 391 Labour seats could be won, one of the few firms to do so.

One of the clear signs from all the polling data is that this election will see very narrow margins across seats.

YouGov’s latest MRP, for example, forecast that 38 per cent of MPs would win their seats with less than 40 per cent of the popular vote. This is compared to just 2.5 per cent of MPs in 2019.

The rise of Reform, as well as a strong projected performance from the Greens, mean that these winning vote shares could be at record lows, making many seat forecasts well within the margin of error and too close to call.

It could, in part, help explain the fluctuations in seat forecasts because slightly different methodologies could swing those margins either way.

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Who won the election in my area? Search by postcode

  • Follow our live blog for the latest UK election news
  • Live 2024 general election results mapped 

Sir Keir Starmer is set to be swept to power by a landslide Labour victory while the Tories are on course for a complete collapse.

Labour is forecast to have a 170-seat majority in the Commons, with the Conservatives reduced to their lowest number of MPs on record.

If the results indicated by an exit poll are accurate, Rishi Sunak’s term as Prime Minister will end in electoral disaster, with Nigel Farage’s Reform UK establishing a foothold in Parliament and the Liberal Democrats forecast to make significant gains.

Use our search tool to find out who won in your area.

The exit poll suggests Labour is on course for 410 seats, with the Tories reduced to 131.

The Liberal Democrats are forecast to win 61 seats, Reform UK on 13 and the Green Party two.

In Scotland, the SNP are expected to secure 10 seats with Plaid Cymru in Wales on four.

The poll for broadcasters involved more than 20,000 voters at 133 polling stations.

If the results follow the forecast, it will mean a Labour prime minister in No 10 for the first time since 2010 and the Conservatives facing a fight for the future direction of the party.

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Postal ballots ‘delayed after postmen told to prioritise parcels’

Postal ballots were delayed after postmen were told to prioritise parcels, voters have claimed.

As many as 120 constituencies have experienced delivery delays or problems as the postal voting system struggled to cope with rocketing demand.

Thousands of people found themselves unable to cast their votes on Thursday after postal votes were delayed in constituencies across the country.

Some voters said they had been told by their postmen that their ballots were delayed because sorting offices were making sure parcels were delivered first.

One couple said that they had not received their postal ballots in time to send them back before they went to France.

Sandra Javens and her husband Dave, who live in West Sussex, had applied to vote by post ahead of the start of their holiday on June 20. But they did not receive their ballots in time, and said that they “haven’t been given a choice – and that’s not right”.

Mrs Javens said she was told by a postman that they were “prioritising parcels at the moment”, adding: “When the postman came to the door, I asked: ‘Have you not got anything for me?’ He said ‘I’m sorry madam, but they are prioritising parcels at the moment.’”

Jon Pinches, a director of MPS, a company that works with local authorities to print ballot papers and polling cards, said he was “aware” that parcel deliveries were being prioritised. He added that he had been told of staffing problems at delivery offices by postmen and Royal Mail workers.

Royal Mail denied parcels were being prioritised, and said there are no delays with either parcels or post in West Sussex.

A spokesman said: “We have a specialist elections team that plans every aspect of the elections delivery programmes and works closely with local authorities to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible.

“We have investigated concerns with the delivery of postal votes in Westbourne and can confirm that all postal votes we have received for the area have been delivered without delay.”

In February, staff members told BBC Panorama that letters were left behind in sorting offices, with tracked items and parcels prioritised for delivery.

In 2023, Ofcom, the regulator, accepted Royal Mail’s assertion that it did not prioritise parcels, but still fined the postal service £5.6 million for missing targets. The postal service denied that it gives less priority to letters.

Voters had to apply for a postal vote by 5pm on June 19, and were advised to immediately return them.

Those who have not had time to send their ballots back by post are able to hand in their vote at polling stations or council offices in their constituency, although changes in the Elections Act 2022 mean they will have to fill in a form when they do so.

People who cannot travel to a polling station to cast their vote in person, or who have already gone on holiday, have effectively been disenfranchised by the chaos.

Across the UK, 21 per cent of people voted by post in the 2019 election. The number voting by post is expected to increase by more than a million this year, with more voters are away on summer holidays.

The Electoral Commission confirmed that the postal voting problems would form part of its post-election research.

There have been days of back and forth between party leaders, councils and Royal Mail over who is responsible for the postal vote chaos.

The Telegraph understands that the short timescale of the election, problems with printing ballots and delivery issues have all contributed to the delays.

Royal Mail has repeatedly denied that there are backlogs of postal ballots in sorting offices. Sources told The Telegraph that extra staff would be in depots on Thursday to ensure no postal votes were left ahead of the 10pm deadline for them to be returned.

North West Essex, where more than 2,600 ballots were delayed as the result of “human error” by the council, has experienced some of the most severe problems.

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

Kemi Badenoch, the Business Secretary, said on X, formerly Twitter, on Thursday that the Labour-led council had “potentially disenfranchised up to 2,600 postal voters by forgetting to send them their ballot papers”.

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

  • Follow our live blog for the latest UK election news
  • Live 2024 general election results mapped 

Before the polls closed at 10pm on July 4, each party hoped the promises set out in their manifestos were enough to sway voters. 

This proved effective in some cases over others, with the official exit poll predicting a Labour landslide of 410 seats and the worst ever result for the Conservatives. 

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.

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 stacked up:

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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