Leaders’ debate: Cameron comes out top but Brown battles on

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David Cameron appeared to have come out top in the last and most crucial of the TV leaders’ debates after delivering a calm and impassioned analysis in which he accused Labour of having failed after 13 years to significantly improve the country’s economy, and education and immigration systems.

A post-debate Guardian/ICM poll showed David Cameron on 35%, Gordon Brown on 29% and Nick Clegg on 27%. Other polls following the debate suggested Cameron pulling away from his rivals. ComRes had the Tory leader on 35%, Nick Clegg on 33% and Gordon Brown trailing on 26%, YouGov for the Sun had Cameron on 41%, Clegg on 32% and Brown on 25%, and AngusReed had Cameron on 36%, Clegg on 31% and Brown on 23%.

The prime minister valiantly battled to reignite his faltering general election campaign in the first half of the debate as he repeatedly accused Cameron of immorally offering tax breaks for the richest millionaires in Britain.

In sometimes bad-tempered exchanges, he also claimed that the “same old Tories” were returning to the 1930s with their ideological plans to cut £6bn from the economy this year, and that the party was planning to offer a corporation tax cut for the banks, a move that he said would hit manufacturing.

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