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TV leaders' debates set for go-ahead in Scotland

TV leaders' debates set for go-ahead in Scotland

Theresa May is considering appearing on TV as part of her election campaign, but will not participate in a head-to-head leaders' debate, it has been reported.

However, during an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mrs May said: "We won't be doing television debates".

The Prime Minister has been accused by rivals of running scared and trying to avoid scrutiny after she rejected the idea of TV debates, saying she preferred to get "out and about" meeting voters.

Ms May said on Wednesday she would be "out there campaigning, in every part of the United Kingdom" instead of debating on TV.

No details of format or date have yet been released, but it is expected that Julie Etchingham will host the programme, as she did in 2015, when seven leaders including David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg took part in a two-hour showdown.

"ITV will hold a Leaders' debate as we did in 2010 and 2015", a spokesperson for the channel said.

News executives at the BBC and ITV confirmed they were "working hard" on plans to televise the debates between leaders because of the "overwhelming" public interest in doing so.

After telling the Commons she was proud of what the Conservatives had achieved in government, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn asked: "If Theresa May is so proud of her record, why won't she debate it?"

By the afternoon, private broadcaster ITV announced it would hold a debate with or without the Tory leader.

Munro said: "There is a proven track record over two elections and two referendums that debates reach huge audiences including a lot of young people who don't watch conventional political coverage in great numbers".

ITV published an official statement on Wednesday saying that the broadcaster meant to host a debate this year, saying, "ITV will hold a leaders' debate as we did in 2010 and 2015".

"I don't think other parties will refuse to take part in debates, and I wonder whether Number 10 will stick with that, because it may look a bit odd if other parties are facing audiences and making their case", he said.

SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon argued that TV debates should go ahead without Mrs May. "It helps engagement with hard to reach audiences".

"Well, I say to Theresa May, who said this election was about leadership, come on and show some".

"Let's have the debates".

"She can not be allowed to run away from her duty to democracy and refuse to let the British people hear the arguments directly".

Ms Sturgeon tweeted: "If PM doesnt have the confidence to debate her plans on TV with other leaders, broadcasters should empty chair her and go ahead anyway".

He led the Remain campaign in the European Union referendum as its highest-profile spokesperson, while May avoided most chances to speak forcefully in favour or against Brexit (officially, she campaigned to remain and is now the prime minister who's leading the country out of the EU).

"Elections and democracy are about public debate", he wrote on social media.

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