Sunak, Starmer face off at first televised debate ahead of UK general election

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faced off with opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer in a heated debate over their policies ahead of next month's general election.

Tuesday's showdown was the first televised debate of the election. Voting takes place on July 4. The latest opinion polls show Starmer's main opposition party holding a large lead over Sunak's ruling Conservative Party.

Sunak stressed that his government delivered on its promise to lower inflation, claiming the opposition will raise taxes if they win power.

He said, "This election is about the future, and I am clear that I'm going to keep cutting people's taxes as we now are."

Starmer suggested that the prime minister is out of touch with ordinary people struggling to pay their bills. He said his father was a factory worker and his family was not wealthy.

Starmer said his plans to raise taxes would be limited to the super rich and firms like oil and gas companies.

How to tackle illegal immigrants was also a focus of the debate.

Sunak referred to his government's plan to send illegal asylum seekers to Rwanda. He said: "If I'm your prime minister, the planes will go to Rwanda. We will have a deterrent."

Starmer said he used to be director of public prosecutions and worked to crack down on terrorist gangs who are operating across borders.

He said, "I don't believe it's impossible to bring down these gangs," and suggested that he would increase funding to stop the smugglers.

An opinion poll after the debate showed that 51 percent of respondents said Sunak performed better, compared to 49 percent for Starmer.

The next head-to-head televised debate is scheduled for June 26.