May defends TV debate snub of Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon


The prime minister has defended choosing not to take part in a Brexit TV debate with either Boris Johnson or Nicola Sturgeon.

Mrs May has chosen only to appear with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn next Sunday.

“This is not about a debate which is about recreating the referendum debate of Leavers versus Remainers. This is a debate about looking ahead to the vote which is taking place on December 11,” the PM said speaking to reporters aboard the RAF Voyager on its way to the Buenos Aires G20 summit.

She said she wanted to be compared head-to-head with her Parliamentary opposite number: “I’ve got a plan, I’ve got a deal which delivers for the British people.

“We haven’t seen an alternative from the leader of the Opposition. I believe it’s important that people are able to see what our proposals are.

“I’ve negotiated a deal. I believe it’s a good deal for the UK. I think it’s right for people to hear from the Labour Party.”

The Labour Party tabled an amendment on Thursday to the meaningful vote seeking to prevent “no-deal” as an option.

The prime minister is in Argentina with the aim of telling fellow world leaders that the UK will be open for business post-Brexit

Commenting on this, Mrs May said: “If you look at the Labour Party’s amendment, it doesn’t put forward a concrete alternative.

“By appearing to reject a backdrop it appears to advocate no deal. People need to have some clarity on that.”

The debate was confirmed on Thursday – the same day that Sky News’ Make Debates Happen petition for an independent commission to oversee TV election debates surpassed the 100,000 signatures required for it to be discussed in parliament.

The PM played down the idea that agreeing to this head-to-head would now set a precedent for a general election debate, saying “that’s in a few years’ time”.

Mrs May refused to participate in a multi-party debate ahead of last year’s general election, and the then-home secretary Amber Rudd appeared in her place.

Sky News’ campaign seeks to take the decision about who participates in debates, under which format, and on which channels, out of the hands of political parties and broadcasters and instead give it to a US-style independent commission.


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