ITV pulls out of hosting Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn debate

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are unlikely to face each other in a televised Brexit debate after a second broadcaster scrapped plans to broadcast it.

ITV withdrew on Thursday after the Conservatives and Labour spent days arguing about whether to take up the network’s offer of a head-to-head exchange.

The BBC, which had been favoured by Number 10, pulled of the running to host a Sunday night debate which would have featured other voices as well as the two party leaders.

ITV’s one-on-one format had been favoured by Labour.

The debate would have taken place ahead of Tuesday’s crucial Commons vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

A spokeswoman for the broadcaster said: “ITV invited the prime minister and leader of the opposition to appear in an ITV programme this Sunday evening, and we have been clear that it is up to those invited to decide whether they want to accept the invitation.

“ITV is developing its plans for covering the build-up and reaction to the crucial Commons vote next Tuesday, and a range of voices and opinions will be represented on the subject of Brexit in our output.”

Labour has accused Mrs May of “running scared” of debating with Mr Corbyn.

The same phrase was deployed by Downing Street when the BBC abandoned its plans on Tuesday.

The broadcaster said on Tuesday said it was “disappointed” not to have reached an agreement on the proposal for a debate involving the two leaders, saying it wanted the programme to include other voices.

Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May could debate the Brexit deal
Image:
Labour and the Conservatives accused each other of ‘running scared’ in relation to a proposed debate

At the time Downing Street blamed Labour for raising “false and flimsy objections” to the BBC’s proposed format.

A Labour spokeswoman said Mr Corbyn would still “relish” the opportunity to debate the prime minister, adding: “Labour believed the head-to-head offer from ITV was the most straightforward format.

“A head-to-head would give viewers the greatest clarity and allow both speakers to get into detail.

“The prime minister has refused to join Jeremy in a head-to-head debate.

“Her team tried to confuse people with a convoluted format.

“But the British public will see this for what it is – Theresa May unable to face real scrutiny over her crumbling deal.”

The prime minister expressed concern on Monday that holding the debate on ITV would mean she missed Strictly Come Dancing.

It followed Mr Corbyn’s complaint last week that the BBC’s proposal would clash with jungle-based reality show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!

Channel 4 is due to air The Real Brexit Debate on Sunday which will feature “four high-profile politicians” reflecting a range of opinions.

It comes as Theresa May is under pressure from loyalist MPs to delay a vote on her Brexit deal, amid fears it could be “heavily” rejected.

Roughly 90 of her own MPs expect to rebel during the vote on Tuesday.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.