Theresa May digs in as ITV announces it will broadcast live election debate

Posted On: 
19th April 2017

Downing Street has insisted Theresa May will not take part in TV election debates - despite ITV announcing it will go ahead with plans to stage one.

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown debate ahead of the 2010 election.
Credit: 
PA Images

Sources at the channel said it will be hosted by Julie Etchingham, with more details announced in early May.

Mrs May confirmed this morning that she will not be taking part in any live debates with other party leaders - prompting a deluge of criticism from her rivals at Prime Minister's Questions.

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Jeremy Corbyn said: "I welcome ITV's decision to attempt to hold a TV debate with the Prime Minister. If Theresa May is so proud of her record, why won't she debate it?

"She cannot be allowed to run away from her duty to democracy and refuse to let the British people hear the arguments directly."

But a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister insisted ITV's announcement would make no difference to Mrs May, who she said wanted to focus on "answering questions on the doorstep with real voters".

She said: "The position was made clear yesterday and that hasn't changed. Our general position on the TV debates is that we're not going to do them."

Referring to Prime Minister's Questions, she added: "That was an opportunity for Corbyn to debate with the Prime Minister and the contrast was very clear between strong, stable leadership the Prime Minister is offering and the weak, unstable coalition that Corbyn would offer."

It is unclear whether ITV would risk falling foul of strict rules on broadcasters' impartiality by going ahead with a debate without the Prime Minister.

BBC and Sky News have not said whether they will go ahead with their own election debates, as they did in 2010 and 2015.