Five things from Johnson v Corbyn election debate

Image copyright Reuters

The first election debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn saw a dash of anger, an unsettling amount of laughter, and thankfully no tears.

Here are five key moments from the hour-long ITV programme:

The NHS and Brexit

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Media captionMoment Corbyn produces ‘NHS dossier’

Jeremy Corbyn was always likely to attack Boris Johnson over his familiar claim that the NHS is going to be thrown open to US pharmaceutical giants as the price of a post-Brexit trade deal.

The PM has labelled this a conspiracy theory in the past, but the Labour leader had come armed with a visual aid – a redacted account of “secret meetings” the government had with US trade officials, “in which they were proposing to open up our NHS markets, as they call them, to Americans”.

It provoked the first real flare-up of the debate.

Mr Johnson said it was “absolute nonsense” and “completely untrue”, adding, for good measure, “our NHS will never be for sale”.

You can read our fact check on both parties’ claims about the NHS here.

The monarchy

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Media captionBoris Johnson says monarchy “beyond reproach”

Another tense item up for discussion among politicians right now is Prince Andrew and the ongoing questions regarding his relationship with US businessman and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

In this debate, the exchange started innocently enough, with a quickfire question to both leaders about what they thought of the monarchy.

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Mr Corbyn faced some boos, but applause too, when he said: “Needs a bit of improvement.”

But with Prince Andrew’s BBC Newsnight interview fresh in people’s minds, Mr Johnson received a similar response when he said: “The institution of the monarchy is beyond reproach.”

The pair were then asked if the prince himself was beyond reproach, to which Mr Corbyn said the focus should be on the victims first.

“I think there are very, very serious questions that must be answered and nobody should be above the law,” he added.

Mr Johnson said “all our sympathies” should be with the victims of Epstein, before adding: “The law must certainly take its course.”

The handshake

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption ITV’s Julie Etchingham encouraged the leaders to shake hands

The two leaders were questioned on the tone of the debate in the run-up to the election – something that has dogged Westminster for many months.

But ITV’s host Julie Etchingham tried a new tactic to solve the ongoing bad blood between rival parties.

She asked Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn if they would “make a gesture” on stage to say they would ensure things didn’t get nasty over the next three weeks ahead of the poll.

And after an uncomfortable glance at each other came one of the most awkward handshakes in television history, as Mr Johnson strode across the stage to embrace his rival.

Well, it is the thought that counts.

The laughter

Image copyright EPA
Image caption It wasn’t supposed to be a night of stand-up on ITV

It may have been pitched as a serious head-to-head debate between the top dogs in the Conservative and Labour parties.

But there was a noticeable amount of laughter aimed at both characters on stage.

Mr Johnson’s continuous return to the topic of Brexit prompted many chuckles as it was clear the PM had one message to hammer home.

But Mr Corbyn didn’t escape the sniggers, especially when dancing around the question of whether he would back Leave or Remain in a future referendum.

We were just glad to see everyone having a good time.

The jam

Image caption The two leaders appeared to share a love of jam – if not a lot else…

As we are just about to have our first Christmas election in almost 100 years, it seemed only fitting to have a festive question slotted in at the end of the debate.

Asked what presents they would leave under each other’s trees this year, Mr Corbyn went for a copy of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol so Mr Johnson “could then understand how nasty Scrooge was”.

The PM offered up his Brexit deal as a good read, but when reminded the answer was meant to be non-political, he changed his answer to some damson jam.

“I make my own jam!”, exclaimed the Labour leader – famous for his allotment-growing skills.

Perhaps just a card will do, guys.

Remember, the two leaders will be quizzed on Friday as part of a BBC Question Time special – along with the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon and Lib Dem’s Jo Swinson – and face each other again in a head-to-head on the BBC on 6 December.

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