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Jeremy Corbyn throws down the gauntlet to Theresa May on election TV debates

Theresa May is refusing to defend her record in a debate

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 19 April 2017 12:30 BST
Jeremy Corbyn accused the PM of refusing to defend her record
Jeremy Corbyn accused the PM of refusing to defend her record

Jeremy Corbyn has thrown down the gauntlet to Theresa May by challenging her to debate the future of the country with him live on television.

Mr Corbyn accused the Prime Minister of “refusing to defend her record” in public after Downing Street ruled out Ms May’s participation in debates.

The Labour leader said Ms May was not to be trusted after suddenly reversing her policy of not holding a general election.

“We welcome the general election but this is a prime minister who promised there wouldn’t be one. A Prime Minister who cannot be trusted,” he told the PM at Prime Minister’s Questions.

“She says it’s about leadership, yet is refusing to defend her record in television debates.

“It’s not hard to see why – the Prime Minister says we have a stronger economy, yet she can’t explain why people’s wages are lower today than they were 10 years ago or why more households are in debt – six million people earning less than the living wage.

“Child poverty is up, pensioner poverty is up so why are so many people getting poorer?”

Ms May did not directly address the question of debates directly, but suggested that she did not need to participate in the discussions because she had attended Prime Minister’s Questions.

“I would point out that I have been answering his questions and debating his matters every Wednesday that Parliament has been sitting since I became Prime Minister,” she replied.

“I will be taking out to the country in this campaign a proud record of Conservatives government.”

But Mr Corbyn once again hit back: “If she’s so proud of her record, why won’t she debate it?”

Ms May on Tuesday announced her intention to hold a snap election on 8 June – despite having repeatedly ruled one out as recently as last month.

Television debates were held in 2010 between David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg. The programmes saw support for the Liberal Democrats surge and led to the so-called “Cleggmania” period.

In 2015 broadcasters held a series of election special programmes, though David Cameron refused to participate in a head-to-head debate.

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