TV debates: David Cameron makes 'final offer' of one debate by the end of this month

Ed Miliband had earlier claimed: “I will do it any time, any place, anywhere"

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David Cameron has issued his “final offer” about televised debates with the other party leaders, saying he will only take part in one debate by the end of this month.

The letter, sent to broadcasters by the Prime Minister’s communication director, attacked broadcasters for the “deeply unsatisfactory process” in which the format for the debates was negotiated.

Under the broadcasters’ current plans, the BBC and ITV would show debates featuring the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Ukip, Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the Greens with a third debate on Sky and Channel 4 between Mr Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Labour sources have accused the Conservatives of doing everything they can behind the scenes to “scupper the negotiations and sink the debates”.

The letter to broadcasters, which was seen by The Daily Telegraph, complained about the way they had organised the debates and said the Democratic Unionist Party’s legal action over their exclusion appeared to be “legitimate”.

It makes clear that Mr Cameron will not negotiate further.

“This is our final offer, and to be clear, given the fact this has been a deeply unsatisfactory process and we are within a month of the short campaign, the Prime Minister will not be participating in more than one debate,” the letter said.

“Despite the Prime Minister having been clear about his concern around holding debates in the short campaign, you did not consult us before issuing a press release last October outlining your plans for three debates during that period.

“Had you consulted us, we could have also told you that we also did not think it was appropriate to exclude the Green Party from the process. Despite all of this, we then entered into negotiations in good faith, during which I made the case for a more representative debates structure, including the Greens. It is fair to say that the desire to exclude the Greens was clear from all other parties present.

"Three months later - and again without consultation - you surprised us again by proposing a new seven-party structure, this time not only inviting the Greens, but Plaid Cymru and the SNP as well. Again, this was a flawed proposal - that has resulted in the DUP initiating what appears to be legitimate legal action.

"Since this proposal has been suggested, there has been chaos. In recent weeks, you have avoided letting the parties sit in a room to hammer out proposals, making progress impossible."

Mr Miliband made clear today he wanted the debates to take place.

“I will do it any time, any place, anywhere. I want these debates to happen. The British public deserve it. David Cameron should now name the date,” he said.

The broadcasters said in a statement: “The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky have received an email from the Prime Minister's office with a proposal. The broadcasters are committed to providing our audiences with election debates.

“Twenty two million people watched the debates in 2010 and we believe the debates helped people to engage with the election.

“The broadcasters have set out their proposals and continue to talk to all the relevant parties on an equitable basis. We will respond to the Conservatives' proposal in due course.”

In a statement about the “final offer” letter, Labour said: “We continue to support the broadcasters proposals, including for seven-way debates alongside a two-way debate.

“But this is an outrageous attempt from the Prime Minister to bully the broadcasters into dropping their proposals for a head-to-head debate between David Cameron and Ed Miliband.

“That it comes only hours after Ed Miliband called David Cameron's bluff and said he would debate him any time, any place, shows the lengths David Cameron will go to run scared of a debate with Ed Miliband.”

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