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An expectant nation will shortly gather around TVs in pubs, clubs and homes. Will the stars perform or flop on the biggest stage?

We are of course not referring to the England v Denmark match, but this evening’s 8pm Question Time involving the major party leaders and a live studio audience. Who needs Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka when you have Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer arguing over the nuances and niceties of taxation?

Overshadowing preparations is the series of polls predicting an absolute drubbing for the Conservatives – more on that in the Poll Watch section. However, those dire predictions – and suggestions that the Conservatives are now diverting resources to support a salvage operation in previously safe seats – are only adding to the growing sense this election has the potential to be existential for the Conservatives. Little surprise therefore that previous contenders like James Cleverley are distancing themselves from any post-July 4th leadership contest.

Today’s big news was the Bank of England holding interest rates at 5.25%. Though not unexpected, it has dashed any hope the Prime Minister had for a campaign-boosting pre-election cut in the cost of borrowing.

Moment of the day

With the growing number of stories about insider betting in Downing Street on the timing of the election, Sky journo Mhari Aurora has spotted some backtracking from CCHQ regarding an attack ad which suggested voting for Labour would be a “gamble” with the UK’s future.

Poll watch

Three MRP polls, all three predicting an electoral cataclysm for the Conservatives.

Firstly, polling by Savanta and Electoral Calculus for The Telegraph predicts Labour could win over 500 seats at the election, leaving the Conservatives with just 53 MPs. It suggests Rishi Sunak could lose his Richmond seat as part of that wipeout, though the Conservatives would still be the official opposition, ahead of the Lib Dems by three seats. Small mercies and all that.

YouGov has concluded Labour would return 425 MPs, with the Conservatives winning 108 seats. This has Reform on 15 per cent of the vote and returning 5 MPs – a testament to the potentially devastating impact the Farage factor could have on Conservative fortunes on July 4th. Finally, Ipsos has Labour winning 453 seats to the Conservatives’ 115.

Speaking to The Sun, the Welsh Secretary David TC Davies appeared to concede defeat, saying “you cannot dismiss every single opinion poll”.  A further poll by Savanta for ITV’s Peston has found that only 11% of 18–25-year-olds say they intend to vote Conservative.

These polls underline not only the immediate challenges facing the Conservative Party but also the long-term struggle it faces to convince younger generations that it is on their side.

Visit MHP Group's Election Hub, keeping you up to date with the twists and turns of the campaign.