Published: 16:19, 20 November 2019
A mental health campaigner has revealed why he ended a General Election debate with a festive question.
Ben West, from Cranbrook, asked Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn what they would buy each other for Christmas on a live televised debate last night.
The 19-year-old's question was met with mixed reception online and branded a "wasted opportunity," but he's standing by it.
Ben, who set up the Sam West Foundation after his little brother took his life in 2018, said: "Originally I had a question about mental health, ITV came back and said they were looking for a less political question to end on.
"It's so important for everyone to be kinder, particularly in politics when it's just abuse back and forth.
"I thought it was a good opportunity, they were droning on about Brexit and the NHS, I sensed that people were slightly relieved when my question came up.
"Of course they went straight back to those topics, but it just proved people are getting sick of politics."
Jeremy Corbyn told Ben he would buy Boris Johnson a copy of Rochester author Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Mr Johnson said he would give the opposition leader a copy of his Brexit deal and a jar of Damson jam.
Mr West said: "It's quite something to see yourself trending on Twitter. It's good to see the attention its brought to the charity and people seem to be really supportive of all the stuff we've been doing."
The Sam West Foundation was set up in the wake of 15-year-old Sam West's death and aims to promote awareness, diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues affecting children, young adults and their families.
A petition set up by Ben West to make mental health first aid training compulsory for all teachers gained 2,000 more signatures after last night's appearance, bringing the total close to 300,000.
More by this authorLuke May