Labour attacks BBC and accuses Theresa May of 'running away' over Brexit debate row

Posted On: 
4th December 2018

Labour has launched a bitter attack on the BBC as it accused Theresa May of "running away" from a head-to-head TV debate with Jeremy Corbyn.

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn could go head-to-head in a live Brexit debate.
PA Images

The party accused the corporation of being the Prime Minister's "preferred broadcaster" and said its proposal for the Brexit clash was a "mish-mash" which should be ditched.

Jeremy Corbyn has accepted Mrs May's challenge to a televised debate on 9 December - just 48 hours before MPs vote on her Brexit deal.

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The Labour leader has said he prefers the format proposed by ITV, which would see him and the PM alone take part in the debate.

Downing Street has said it prefers the BBC's suggestion, which would involve the pair being quizzed by a panel of politicians from other parties, as well as other interested groups.

With no sign of an end to the stalemate, Labour issued a lengthy statement calling on the Prime Minister to back down so the debate can go ahead.

It said: "Theresa May is running away from the scrutiny of a head to head debate with Jeremy Corbyn, as she did in the 2017 general election campaign.

"When Number 10 told the media she wanted a head to head debate on her botched Brexit deal, Jeremy Corbyn immediately agreed. Jeremy Corbyn then swiftly accepted ITV’s proposal for a straightforward head to head debate with Theresa May. But the Prime Minister has rejected it. 

"Since then, the Prime Minister’s team and their preferred broadcaster, the BBC, have put together a confused format which would limit head to head debating time, with a built-in advantage for the government.

"The BBC’s latest proposal is a mish mash, with a lop-sided panel of other politicians and public figures, not a straightforward head to head debate.

"The BBC could, as ITV and Sky have proposed to do, fairly represent other viewpoints and parties in other programmes on its network. The public has a right to a genuine head to head debate on the Prime Minister’s worst of all worlds deal.

"Either Theresa May should accept ITV's straightforward proposal or, if she prefers the BBC, to ask the corporation for a genuine head to head debate. Jeremy Corbyn is ready to take part in either.

"If the Prime Minister turns down the opportunity of a genuine head to head debate, it will be clear she is once again dodging a TV debate with the leader of the opposition on the future of our country."

In a statement last night, ITV said: "ITV is developing its plans for covering the build up and reaction to the crucial Commons vote next Tuesday.  As part of this, ITV have invited the Prime Minister and leader of the opposition to appear in an ITV programme this Sunday evening.

"Invitations remain open. As always, it is up to those invited to decide whether they want to accept the invitation."