Confused on how to vote at the general election? Here is where the main parties stand on key issues – including immigration, trans ideology, the NHS, tax and education

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Rishi Sunak has fired the starting gun on a six-week general election campaign following his shock announcement that he will send Brits to the polls on 4 July.

The Prime Minister used a rain-sodden speech in Downing Street to confirm he is gambling on an earlier-than-expected election.

Although the UK’s main parties are yet to unveil their manifestos ahead of polling day, they have been election planning for months and already outlined key policies.

Here’s where they stand on all the major issues likely to influence voters over the coming weeks…

The economy

Tories: Rishi Sunak has claimed his ‘clear plan’ is ‘working’ and is warning that a change in government could jeopardise Britain’s economic recovery. The PM was boosted by latest figures showing inflation has dropped back towards the Bank of England’s 2 per cent target. He has twice cut National Insurance contributions for workers in the past year and has set out his aim to abolish the tax altogether.

Labour: Sir Keir Starmer is promising to ‘deliver economic stability’ as one of his six key pledges. Labour are vowing to abide by ‘tough spending rules’ to ‘grow our economy and keep taxes, inflation and mortgages as low as possible’ as they focus on a message of fiscal discipline to counter Tory attacks. They are also keen to remind voters of the economic turmoil that hit the country under ex-PM Liz Truss’s brief premiership. Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves saw the Tories steal two of her revenue-raising ideas – abolishing non-dom tax status and extending the windfall tax on oil and gas firms – at the Budget in March. She has said Labour will instead find the money to fund its spending plans from renewed efforts to crackdown on tax avoiders.

Lib Dems: Sir Ed Davey’s party is promising ‘fair and progressive taxation’ to sustain public services. They want a ‘proper, one-off windfall tax’ on oil and gas producers to help Brits with the cost of living. And they are also pledging to ‘reverse the Conservatives’ tax cuts for big banks’, to abolish the separate Capital Gains tax-free allowance, and ‘tax income from wealth more similarly to income from work’.

Reform: Richard Tice’s party wants to lift the earnings level at which Britons start paying income tax from £12,750 a year to £20,000. And they want to lift the threshold for paying the 40p higher rate of tax from £50,000 to £70,000. Reform are also pledging to scrap VAT on energy bills, lower fuel duty, scrap environmental levies, slash Stamp Duty, abolish inheritance tax for all estates under £2m, and abolish the ‘tourist tax’.


Tories: The PM has made the Rwanda deportation plan the key part of his efforts to tackle the small boats crisis in the Channel. He claims this will provide the deterrent effect needed to stop migrants making the perilous journey to Britain. But Mr Sunak has been forced to admit the first deportation flights to Rwanda will only take off after the general election. The PM has previously admitted the level of legal migration to Britain is ‘too high’ and has taken action to crackdown on visas for dependants of students and social care workers. He is also said to be considering curbs on graduate visas amid Tory concerns these are used as a ‘backdoor’ for migrants to remain in Britain.

Labour: Sir Keir has branded the Rwanda scheme a ‘gimmick’ and vowed to scrap it if he wins power. Labour is instead promising to establish a new ‘Border Security Command’ to work with Border Force, MI5 and the National Crime Agency on prosecuting people-smuggling gangs operating small boat routes. The party is also vowing to clear the asylum backlog by recruiting more staff to process claims and return people to safe countries.

Lib Dems: Sir Ed’s party wants to scrap the Tories’ Illegal Migration Act and provide safe and legal routes for asylum seekers to come to Britain. They argue this will help prevent Channel crossings. The Lib Dems also want to lift the ban on asylum seekers working in the UK if they have been waiting on a decision for more than three months, which will enable migrants to ‘support themselves, integrate in their communities and contribute through taxation’.

Reform: Mr Tice’s party wants to see ‘net zero’ immigration, which means the number of people legally allowed to live and work in the UK each yer equals the number emigrating, so the overall population remains approximately the same. They also claim Britain should be picking Channel migrants out of boats in order to return them to France.


Tories: Mr Sunak made cutting NHS waiting lists one of his five key pledges for his time as PM. But he has admitted he has so far failed to deliver this promise. The PM has blamed strike action by NHS staff for hindering efforts to reduce the backlog of treatments, which soared during the Covid pandemic. The Tories have stuck to their vow to build 40 new hospitals by 2030, which was promised before the 2019 general election. Mr Sunak is promising to reduce the burden on the NHS by delivering Britain’s first ‘smoke-free generation’ by banning children born on or after 1 January 2009 from ever legally being sold cigarettes in England.

Labour: Sir Keir is promising to cut NHS waiting times with 40,000 more evening and weekend appointments each week. Labour has outlined plans to pay doctors and nurses overtime to work during evenings and weekends. The party also wants to use ‘spare capacity’ of private healthcare to boost the post-Covid recovery of the NHS.

Lib Dems: Sir Ed’s party wants to give everyone the right to see their GP within seven days, or within 24 hours if they urgently need to. They are vowing to meet this promise by recruiting more GPs and free up more of their time.

Reform: Mr Tice’s party have outlined plans for a ‘national endeavour’ to get to zero NHS waiting lists in two years. They want to fund this effort – estimated to require an extra £17billion in NHS funding each year – by scrapping the UK’s drive for net zero emissions, which the party has estimated will cost about £30billion a year.


Tories: Mr Sunak wants Britain to change its ‘anti-maths mindset’ in order to boost economic growth. The PM has regularly outlined his ambition for every young person to study some form of maths up to the age of 18. Mr Sunak also wants to scrap A-levels and T-levels and replace them with a new ‘Advanced British Standard’. The international baccalaureate-style qualification would see pupils study at least five subjects.

Labour: Sir Keir wants to recruit 6,500 more teachers in key subjects, which will be paid for by ending tax breaks for private schools. Labour has claimed imposing VAT on private school fees will raise around £1.6 billion. This money  – along with cash saved from cracking down on tax avoiders – will also be spent on Labour’s plans for free school breakfast clubs and employing mental health support staff in every school.

Lib Dems: Sir Ed’s party is promising to increase school and college funding per pupil above the rate of inflation every year. They also want to extend free school meals to all primary school children, and all secondary school children whose families receive Universal Care. The Lib Dems have also outlined plans for new ‘Skills Wallets’ to give all adults £10,000 to spend on education and training throughout their lives.

Reform:  Mr Tice’s party is opposed to Labour’s plan to put VAT on schools fees and want 20 per cent tax relief on all independent education They argue that ‘if parents can afford to pay a bit more, we should incentivise them to choose independent schools’. Reform also want to scrap interest on student loans.

Labour want to recruit 6,500 more teachers in key subjects, which will be paid for by ending tax breaks for private schools

Labour want to recruit 6,500 more teachers in key subjects, which will be paid for by ending tax breaks for private schools

Security and defence

Tories: The PM recently pledged to boost defence spending to 2.5 per cent by 2030, which marked a return to a promise first made by Boris Johnson. Mr Sunak has also committed to at least £3billion in military support every year for Ukraine until 2030.

Labour: Sir Keir has failed to match the Government’s pledge on defence spending. His party has said it is ‘totally committed’ to reaching the 2.5 per cent goal but not yet set a date for that target to be met, only saying they will do so ‘as soon as resources allow that to happen’. But Labour have backed the Government’s commitment on military support for Ukraine.

Lib Dems: Sir Ed’s party is promising to work ‘more closely’ with NATO and EU nations in the ‘joint development of innovative defence technologies’. The Lib Dems have also said they will cancel ‘the Conservative Government’s cut to the Army’.

Reform: Mr Tice’s party is promising to increase defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP within three years, and then boost it to 3 per cent within six years.

The PM recently pledged to boost defence spending to 2.5 per cent by 2030, which marked a return to a promise first made by Boris Johnson

The PM recently pledged to boost defence spending to 2.5 per cent by 2030, which marked a return to a promise first made by Boris Johnson


Tories: The PM has hailed new draft guidance for schools, published by the Government last week, that states the ‘contested topic of gender identity’ should not be taugh at all. Mr Sunak has repeatedly tried to draw a dividing line with Labour on gender issues and accused Sir Keir of changing his position on ‘defining a woman’. The PM told last year’s Conservative Party conference: ‘W e shouldn’t get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be. They can’t; a man is a man and a woman is a woman. That’s just common sense.’

Labour: It has recently emerged how Sir Keir’s party wants to ‘simplify’ the process for changing gender by making it ‘less medicalised’. Labour’s plans, which are expected to go to consultation if the party wins the election, could include allowing a single doctor or gender specialist to sign off on a decision over a gender recognition certificate. Sir Keir has previously faced intense pressure to clarify his personal views after saying in 2021 that it is ‘not right’ to say that only women have a cervix. Last year, the Labour leader stated that 99.9 per cent of women ‘of course haven’t got a penis’ – which suggested he believed one in 1,000 women have male genitalia. Sir Keir later admitted he had U-turned on his past support for self-identification for trans people following the SNP’s meltdown over new gender recognition laws in Scotland. 

Lib Dems: Sir Ed’s party is promising to ‘respect and defend the rights and identities of all LGBT+ people, including trans and non-binary people’.

Reform: Mr Tice’s party want to ban ‘transgender ideology’ in schools, with Reform stating ‘there are two sexes and two genders’.

One of Sir Keir's main missions if he becomes PM is to 'halve serious violence'. Labour is pledging to put 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs on the beat

One of Sir Keir’s main missions if he becomes PM is to ‘halve serious violence’. Labour is pledging to put 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs on the beat


Tories: Mr Sunak last month unveiled new action to crack down on retail crime, including tougher punishments for serial or abusive shoplifters. The PM also promised to make assaulting a retail worker a standalone criminal offence. But the Government has been dogged by the issue of overcrowding in prisons, with claims police have been told to take fewer suspects into custody. Ministers are prepering to expand plans to release some inmates from jail up to 70 days early to free up prison cells.

Labour: One of Sir Keir’s main missions if he becomes PM is to ‘halve serious violence’. Labour is pledging to put 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs on the beat. The party also wants to scrap a rule that stops shop thefts under £200 being investigated. They are promising to crack down on knife crime with new youth hubs, containing mental health staff, to ‘give teenagers the best start in life’.

Lib Dems: Sir Ed’s party wants to ‘break the cycle of reoffending’ by improving rehabilitiation in prisons and on release, as well as stregthening the supervision of offenders in the community. The Lib Dems also want the Home Secretary, Mayor of London and Metropolitan Police Commissioner to draw up an urgent plan to implement the recommendations of the Baroness Casey review into the standards of behaviour and internal culture of Scotland Yard.

Reform: Mr Tice’s party is promising 40,000 new frontline police officers within five years. They want ‘zero tolerance’ policing, including mandatory life imprisonment for drug dealing and drug trafficking. Reform also want to allow PCSOs to become police officers before the role is phased out.