Theresa May: We won't be doing television debates

Earlier on Sky News, the shadow chancellor claimed the Prime Minister was refusing to take part in a televised debate because she was afraid that Mr Corbyn would give a strong performance.

He added that, in the wake of Brexit, Ms May is anxious about her message being skewed in the media and wants to get her message across directly to the people.

"That's what I have always believed in, it's what I still believe and I still do it - as Prime Minister, as a constituency MP, I still go out and knock on doors in my constituency". "That's what I believe in doing and that's what I'll be doing around this campaign".

And Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said the live events should go ahead without the Prime Minister.

In 2016 former Green leader Natalie Bennett used this fact as the basis of her argument to form an anti-Conservative alliance - her suggestion was not met with much enthusiasm outside of her own party; however it is hoped that MPs and the public will be more open to the idea given the negative reactions to many Tory policies and decisions made recently.

But Labour MP Gisela Stuart, one of the architects of Brexit as co-chair of Vote Leave, said she would be standing down after 20 years as MP for Birmingham Edgbaston. It is because of these differences I feel I can not in good faith stand as the Labour candidate for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.

While promising to run a "positive and optimistic campaign", she said the choice at the election was between her "strong and stable leadership" or a "coalition of chaos" led by Mr Corbyn.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We won't be doing television debates".

"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 minimum wage, child poverty is up, pensioner poverty is up".

But asked whether she saw her opponents as "saboteurs", the prime minister took issue with the Mail. "It's what democracy needs and what the British people deserve", he said.

And Leanne Wood, whose profile as Plaid Cymru leader received a considerable boost after she appeared in two of the 2015 broadcasts, said: "Theresa May should be empty chaired if she doesn't show up to any planned TV debates".

Although a mainstay of U.S. presidential elections for decades, live TV debates during United Kingdom general elections are a fairly new concept.

ITV confirmed that it will stage a leaders' debate as it did in 2010 and 2015.

And BBC broadcasting doyen David Dimbleby has said a refusal to take part in TV showdowns with her rivals could be "rather perilous" for May.

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