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Summary

  1. Candidates debate issues on BBC One including:
  2. Police cuts
  3. May 'breaks under pressure'
  4. NHS and social care
  5. Immigration

Live Reporting

By Lisa Wright and John Newton

All times stated are UK

That's all folks

And that's it, the debate is over. At least this one in the West Midlands is.

As Patrick says, with a bit of poetry, "the clock is the ultimate arbiter" - and we're all out of time.

As if you didn't know, the general election takes place on 8 June. But the Live team is back with you before then - from 08:00 on Wednesday in fact.

Thanks for joining us and to all a good night. And do us a favour, eh? Watch out for the icebergs.

'Disaster unleashed on the country'

Sajid Javid's not having a coalition painted as a viable solution to his leader, Mrs May.

The Conservative says Jeremy Corbyn together with John McDonnell and Diane Abbott would be a "disaster unleashed on the country".

He adds that two people "can be standing outside number 10 after the election", and it has to be Theresa May, leading a government "in the national interest", rather than - to coin the questioner's phrase - a "coalition of chaos".

An audience member shouts out she'd rather have Jeremy Corbyn than a "bloody difficult woman as she's been called". Mrs May has indeed been called that. In fact she called herself that on telly last night.

Back to this evening's TV and Martin Horwood (Lib Dem) rounds things off by saying he won't go into coalition with either the Tories or Labour, which draws a few chuckles - mainly from the panel.

Theresa May is 'too brittle - like the Titanic'

Khalid Mahmood (Lab) is fighting back for Mr Corbyn after the UKIP candidate's withering attack a moment ago. Mr Corbyn is, Mr Mahmood says, a "caring leader who listens to people".

But you didn't think the Titanic thing had gone away did you? Here's the Labour man - with a bit of a swear - to push to the limits a metaphor that, frankly, broke about half an hour ago.

Talking of breaking, Mr Mahmood says: "The reason the Titanic broke up was it was too bloody brittle. And that's the problem we are gonna have with Theresa May, she's much too brittle, she doesn't understand the issues."

Khalid Mahmood
BBC
Jeremy Corbyn was described as a 'caring leader' by Khalid Mahmood

Brittle, wriggly, weak and wobbly all in one night. Mrs May's getting a hard time from this lot. They think she has at once the properties of toffee dropped from the height of, ooh, let's say a stepladder, and jelly on a plate.

'No way on God's Earth I want to see Corbyn as PM'

Ellie Chowns is first up with a response to this one, and, as you might expect from a Green candidate, she paints a less chaotic vision of coalition than the audience member.

She says: "We need a new approach to politics, less of a confrontational playground politics and a more grownup politics where we talk to each other, seek consenus, seek compromise and seek out the best way for the country together."

But as if to suggest he has not been listening, UKIP's Bill Etheridge says of Jeremy Corbyn - who would likely lead any such coalition - that "there's no way on God's Earth I would want to see him in charge of anything, let alone this country - it would be an absolute disaster."

A "warm endorsement" quips host Patrick Burns.

Bill Etheridge
BBC
Bill Etheridge (UKIP) doesn't mince his words when it comes to his feelings about Jeremy Corbyn

It's the last question of the night - and it's about the Titanic?

There's a theme emerging tonight and it's the last one we expected.

The final question comes from Martin Guest who, after one candidate's earlier flirtation with the vessel's chilly path, brings up the ill-fated ship once again.

You wait all day for an iceberg metaphor and two turn up at once. The previous one was just the tip of the... never mind.

Martin Guest
BBC

Anyway, if you're not quite sure where Martin is going with this one, he's basically asking people to choose a lesser of two perceived evils.

Immigration: 'Failure' of PM when home secretary

Host Patrick Burns steers things back to the essence of the question from the audience member who had said the government was failing to meet its immigration targets - the "tens of thousands" benchmark.

Patrick says Prime Minister May, as home secretary, repeatedly failed to drive down numbers - and he puts the point to Tory candidate Sajid Javid, the panel member yet to speak on the issue.

Sajid Javid
BBC
Sajid Javid (Con) tells the audience he is the 'proud son' of immigrants

Mr Javid tells the audience he is the "proud son of immigrants", but despite immigrants' huge contributions to business, culture and politics, the UK needs a "sustainable" immigration level - bringing down numbers to 100,000 or fewer.

Then things get a little heated in the audience, but the suggestion from an audience member that the UK is still "in the club" where the EU is concerned, falls a little flat with some. He's technically correct, but amid the Brexit chat it's a little optimistic.

Things quieten down and Patrick moves on.

'Problem is inequality, not immigration'

Ellie Chowns (Green) doesn't buy that immigration is the source of economic ills.

"People are barking up the wrong tree if they see immigration as a problem here," she says, adding that the issue is how economic growth is distributed.

"The problem is inequality, not immigration."

Ellie Chowns
BBC
Inequality is the problem, not immigration, says Ellie Chowns (Green)

It's a stance that gets the nod from Lib Dem Martin Horwood who decries "scare stories from parties like UKIP".

Immigration: UKIP candidate says he would come to UK too

Three guesses to whom host Patrick turns first for a response on immigration.

If you said "that'll be UKIP's Bill Etheridge, that will", you'd be right. And you wouldn't even need your other two guesses.

Mr Etheridge says immigration is an economic necessity, but people who come to the UK need to have something to contribute. Arriving to perform low-skilled tasks, he says, deprives Britain's young people of a starting place in the job market.

Then he has this to say. He tells the audience he has "nothing against these people" and "I don't blame them". He adds "I'd be coming in as well", but presumably not to stand as a UKIP candidate.

Khalid Mahmood, meanwhile, favours a points-based system over Mr Etheridge's one-in-one-out policy, plus the resurrection of "proper" youth training schemes. All that, he says, will contribute to country and exchequer.

Next up is immigration

The fourth audience question comes from 16-year-old Jack Downes who wants to know about immigration.

Jack Downes
BBC

'Tax isn't a burden'

Lib Dem Martin Horwood is first up - he doesn't represent the two parties to which the questioner refers and it's fair to say he's on board with the concept she floats.

That penny, he says, would flush out billions and, amid "immediate financial crisis", it's "the kind of bold step" the NHS and social care needs.

Bill Etheridge (UKIP) doesn't want to see taxes rise - you can tell that because, as host Patrick points out, he is pulling a face. "Read my face - no new taxes".

His party, he says, has a "fully costed" plan to pump £11bn into the NHS and social care without raising income tax.

But Ellie Chowns (Green) wants to get away from thinking of tax as a dirty word, saying tax isn't a "burden", it's how we pay for what we cannot afford individually. She's after "progressive" taxation where "those who have more contribute more".

And it's the NHS for question three

Audience member Sandra Leeson is up next with the third question of the night - it focuses on increasing income tax to help fund the NHS and social care.

Sandra Leeson
BBC

Shall we talk about Corbyn?

That's what host Patrick wants to know after the prime minister had a bit of a kicking from most of the panel.

A healthy show of hands from the audience indicates that many do want to talk about Mr Corbyn.

One woman describes the Labour leader as "strong and principled", adding if Theresa May won't have a debate with the Labour leader, "how on earth are we expecting her to negotiate Brexit". She also describes Mrs May as a wriggler which bookends an earlier accusation of "wobbly".

Then the sub question makes its way back to the panel. Sajid Javid, Conservative, is less than impressed with Mrs May's opposite number, saying if he "can't even lead his own party, how can he possibly lead the country?" But Khalid Mahmood, Labour, is far more positive. No surprises here from either man.

Jeremy Corbyn
BBC

Avoiding the Brexit 'icebergs'

Martin Horwood, a Liberal Democrat candidate, explains his stance on Brexit by pushing an iceberg metaphor as far as it will go.

Here he is, in his own words. It's sink or swim out there...

Lib Dem candidate Martin Horwood on icy Brexit waters

Icebergs ahead

Sajid Javid (Con) isn't having any criticism of his boss and launches into a bit of a "Brexit means Brexit" thing - which is what Ellie Chowns (Green) is worried about.

She rather wishes the electorate could have another say on just what Brexit might mean, calling for a second referundum to ratify a final deal.

But hold on... what's that looming on the horizon? It's only a Titanic Brexit metaphor - and we don't just mean a big metaphor; look at the capital T.

"Everyone has the absolute right to set out on a voyage," says Lib Dem Martin Horwood, "but if halfway across the north Atlantic you see a bunch of icebergs ahead, and you think you are going to crash into them, we just want you to have the right to turn round and get back to a safe haven, especially if you've got a captain who has a habit of taking u-turns every five minutes."

Iceberg
Getty Images

We follow the point but are momentarily lost for words as to just how extended a metaphor that was. Well, lost for words in as much as we begin to wonder - out loud - who is the most confused seafaring captain.

Our money is on Sparrow. Or Birdseye.

'Strong and stable? Weak and wobbly more like'

"She talks big, but can't deliver under pressure" - that's Khalid Mahmood's take on the prime minister, whom he accuses of "u-turns" on key policy, which was the audience member's view.

But it's Bill Etheridge (UKIP) who delivers the first soundbite of the night, throwing one belonging to Mrs May back at her. "We started off with a Prime Minister who was strong and stable, as it goes on she's increasingly weak and wobbly."

Ouch.

Theresa May
AFP
'Difficult woman' or 'weak and wobbly'?

"Do you see Theresa May pushing through a clean Brexit?" he asks, adding he's seen "the guys" she'll negotiate with - and they are "no softies".

Come what May

Our second question of the night comes from Jemma Yoloye who wants to know how Theresa May - who she accuses of three counts of flip-flopping - will negotiate Brexit when "she often breaks under pressure".

Jemma Yoloye
BBC

Which of the candidates will put their foot down on this one?

Candidates' feet
BBC

Are we less safe?

Ellie Chowns (Green) says in respect of police cuts that the question needs to be asked "whether the policy is making us less safe".

She thinks it potentially makes us less secure and suggests it's "rich" for Tories to suggest otherwise. And that is just about the first real barb of the night.

Budget 'cut to the bone'

Khalid Mahmood (Lab) is up next and says police cuts limit the intelligence you get from "boots on the ground" - and unless you have those, he adds, "it just won't do".

Bill Etheridge (UKIP), meanwhile, is in a bullish mood. He blasts the Tories, who he says "have shown they do not care about security, defence and policing because they have cut the budget to the bone".

Boots and bones from that pair, but what does the Lib Dem candidate have to say? According to Martin Horwood, boosted numbers don't necessarily go hand in hand with preventing attacks - the issue of terrorism is "too complex".

Police must be 'properly resourced'

Sajid Javid (Con) is the first to answer on the topic of police numbers, saying that the police must be "properly resourced", in terms of both manpower and tech.

In 2015, he says, the Tories pledged to protect police budgets and quotes some figures on security investment, saying crime has fallen. The police, he says, are doing a "great job" with the resources they have.

Patrick cuts in to ask whether his government's cuts to police represent a mistake. Mr Javid says: "Absolutely not."

And we're off!

And the first question of the night comes from John Mills. In the wake of the atrocity in Manchester last week, he wants to know about cuts to police numbers.

You can get involved in the debate on Twitter by using the hashtag MidsGE2017.

John Mills
BBC

And here they are...

Answering questions from the audience are, left to right: Bill Etheridge, Khalid Mahmood, Sajid Javid, Martin Horwood and Ellie Chowns.

The candidates
BBC

Meet the panel

There are five candidates taking to the stage for tonight's debate.

Representing UKIP and prospective parliamentary candidate for Dudley North is West Midlands MEP, Bill Etheridge. From the Conservatives we have Sajid Javid - the party's candidate for Bromsgrove.

Khalid Mahmood, the Labour candidate for Birmingham Perry Barr, is also here, while Martin Horwood is the Liberal Democrat candidate in Cheltenham.

Completing the panel is Ellie Chowns, Green Party candidate for North Herefordshire.

Good evening and here we go again

It only seems like five minutes since we were last here, covering a BBC One election debate.

That featured the six candidates vying to be mayor of the West Midlands.

Tonight, of course, is a little different - we're here for the not so small matter of a general election, although it's fair to say not everyone was overjoyed when Mrs May made it snappy. Remember Brenda?

'Another one'?

The format is a little different this evening in that our candidates don't feature on the same ballot.

Instead they are standing in constituencies across our region and, between them, represent five parties.

Once more, political editor Patrick Burns is your host.

We'll introduce you to the candidates shortly.

Patrick Burns
BBC
Patrick waits in the wings