Party leaders round on Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn for debate no show

Posted On: 
19th May 2017

Leaders of the UK’s minor parties hit out at Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn after both refused to turn up and take part in the first TV leaders’ debate.

Leanne Wood, Paul Nuttall, Nicola Sturgeon
PA Images/ ITV

The Prime Minister and Labour leader snubbed the two-hour ITV clash, meaning only the leaders of the SNP, Lib Dems, Greens, Ukip and Plaid Cymru took part.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood accused Mrs May of being “too scared” to take part, while Tim Farron said the Prime Minister had "taken [voters] for granted".

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In her opening statement, Ms Wood said the Prime Minister was “too scared to come here tonight for your U-turns to be highlighted, for your cruel policies to be exposed”.

She added that Mrs May had shown “weak and unstable leadership” by failing to appear.

“I hope all of us here tonight will show you that real leadership means being willing to defend what you stand for, not hide from it,” she said.

Liberal Democrat leader Mr Farron, said: “The fact that Theresa May isn’t here tells you she is taking you for granted, she thinks she owns this result.

“She thinks she owns our country, owns our future and owns our children’s future.”

Nicola Sturgeon’s swipe at the Prime Minister included a barb at Paul Nuttall, branding the Ukip chief “the ambassador for Theresa May”.

She said Mrs May “did not have the guts to be here tonight but her spokesman in the form of Paul Nuttall is here in her place.”

Mr Nuttall accused Ms May and Mr Corbyn of having not “bothered to turn up” while the Greens’ co-leader Caroline Lucas said she felt “let down” by the leaders for failing to take part.

The Conservative chair, Patrick McLoughlin, said the debate had shown “a glimpse of the chaos you could get in just three weeks with all the other parties propping up Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister”.

However the main parties were further chided on social media, after Tory and Labour media teams Tweeted criticisms of the parties taking part.

Theresa May has previously defended her decision by saying: “I don’t think people get much out of seeing politicians having a go at each other.”

Mr Corbyn said the public “deserve” to see the pair debate each other.

Both will instead take part in a Question Time special on 2 June where they will will face audience questions consecutively.

The Ukip leader, Mr Nuttall, found himself further scolded by counterparts and on social media when he accidentally called Ms Wood “Natalie” on two occasions.

Ms Wood hit back saying “I’m not Natalie, I’m Leanne”, while Ms Lucas accused him of just “picking another woman’s name”.