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PM may take part in Question Time-style TV session with voters

PM may take part in Question Time-style TV session with voters

The PM confirmed on Wednesday that she will not face Mr Corbyn and other party leaders in live TV debates in the run-up to the June 8 poll, insisting that campaigning should be about getting "out and about" meeting voters.

"We demand a televised debate between Theresa May and the leaders of the UK's main opposition parties", the petition, started by politics teacher Michael Walker, states.

Although a mainstay of USA presidential elections for decades, the first live TV debates during a United Kingdom general election was only held in 2010.

Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: "In Scotland, we have a longstanding tradition of TV debates and I relish the opportunity to challenge Nicola Sturgeon face-to-face about her reckless plans for a second independence referendum, and to challenge Ruth Davidson about her support for Theresa May's reckless plans for a hard Brexit".

She has been accused by the SNP of "running scared" for refusing to take part in televised election debates, with at least one of the live events now confirmed to go ahead.

It comes after Jeremy Corbyn demanded she step up, saying the debates were "what democracy needs and what the British people deserve".

A BBC spokesman said it was too early to say whether the broadcaster would put in a bid to stage a debate.

And at PMQs in the Commons, he told her: "She says it's about leadership, yet is refusing to defend her record in television debates and it's not hard to see why".

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John McDonnell told Sky News that live debates during the Labour leadership contest had helped transform Mr Corbyn into "a candidate who could win" - and claimed the Prime Minister was anxious about history repeating itself in the General Election.

A Number 10 source told the BBC that there would be no change in the Prime Minister's position.

"I think she's taken a judgment that she stands to lose more in doing them than she does in not doing them and she's probably right", said Natalie Fenton, at Goldsmiths, University of London.

A spokesman for ITV said: "ITV will hold a Leaders' debate as we did in 2010 and 2015".

"We think it is very much in their interest that peak time debates go ahead". Since the leaders' debates started in 2010, they have also been cited in several surveys as key drivers of voters' intentions as they are considered more informative than the more traditional media interviews.

Meanwhile, Scottish LibDem chief Willie Rennie has called for a televised Scottish leaders' debate.

Drawn-out negotiations were needed between the political parties and broadcasters before the 2015 debates could take place. Executives denied plans to "empty chair" or embarrass any leaders, including the prime minister, with any visual reminder of their absence. Unlike in 2010 and 2015, Downing Street is more convinced of a majority vote and is understood to believe that it does not need the potentially unsafe TV debates to reach parts of the electorate that may be turned off by politics as usual.


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