General election 2019: First TV debate not a game-changer

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright EPA

A lot of huffing and puffing. A lot of over eager attempts to land and repeat their stock lines.

But the first head-to-head clash between the two men who could be the next prime minister did not transform the landscape of this election.

There were clashes, predictably, on Brexit and the NHS.

And Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson both stepped carefully through the minefield of commenting on the monarchy and Prince Andrew's recent jaw-dropping interview.

But neither man seem to have made a meaningful mistake. Nor did either of them appear to have a breakthrough moment.

It is still early in this election campaign and likely that swathes of the public have quite understandably only started to think vaguely about the choice in front of them.

But at this stage, with Labour behind in the polls, tonight the danger was for Boris Johnson, to throw away his lead, and that didn't happen.

And the opportunity was for Jeremy Corbyn to start closing the gap and he didn't manage to take it.

This is a genuinely momentous election.

The decision the country faces is between two fundamentally different paths.

But what was striking too in Salford, where the debate was held, was the readiness among the audience to laugh at both men's statements.

That seemed a taste of how many people may well feel in this election, that they are being asked to choose a national leader from a less than tempting pair.

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