May defiant over refusal to take part in debate

31 May

Announcing he would attend the BBC event, the Labour leader challenged the Tory Prime Minister to join him arguing her failure to do so would be “another sign” of weakness.

preview image

Corbyn challenges May to take part in live TV debate

Mr Corbyn is appearing alongside Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, UKIP’s Paul Nuttall, Green co-leader Caroline Lucas, Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood and the SNP’s deputy leader Angus Robertson, who leads the party’s MPs at Westminster.

:: LIVE – Shock poll says May could lose majority

Mr Farron claimed Mrs May was “too frit to turn up”, while her decision not to attend was branded “extreme cowardice” by Green co-leader Caroline Lucas.

But the PM has defended her boycott saying she wanted to speak directly to voters and answer their questions rather than “squabbling” with other party leaders.

preview image

Corbyn urges PM: ‘Come and have a chat’

The Tories are represented at the broadcast in Cambridge by Home Secretary Amber Rudd, after Mrs May made clear that she would not take part in a face-to-face clash with any other party leaders during the campaign.

Mr Corbyn had also previously refused to take part in a leaders’ debate unless the PM also took part.

The veteran left-winger’s decision to attend reflects a growing confidence in the Labour camp, buoyed by the latest YouGov poll that suggested the UK could be heading for a hung parliament on 9 June, with the Tories falling short of an overall majority.

Mr Corbyn said: “I will be taking part in tonight’s debate because I believe we must give people the chance to hear and engage with the leaders of the main parties before they vote.

“I have never been afraid of a debate in my life. Labour’s campaign has been about taking our polices to people across the country and listening to the concerns of voters.

“The Tories have been conducting a stage-managed arms-length campaign and have treated the public with contempt. Refusing to join me in Cambridge tonight would be another sign of Theresa May’s weakness, not strength.”

:: Tory pupil breakfasts ‘a thimble of Rice Krispies’

Challenging Mrs May to join him at the event, Mr Corbyn told supporters: “I invite her to go to Cambridge and debate her policies, debate their record, debate their plans, debate their proposals and let the public make up their mind.”

Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May took part in the first live TV audience Q&A

Highlights from The Battle For Number 10

Answering questions during a visit to a factory in Bath, Mrs May denied she was “frightened” of taking on her rivals face-to-face.

She said: “I’ve been very clear from the start that the sort of campaign I want to do is about meeting people and taking questions.

“I’ve not been off the television screens, I’ve been doing things on the television, but predominantly taking questions from voters and listening to voters.

“I think debates where the politicians are squabbling amongst themselves doesn’t do anything for the process of electioneering.

“I think it’s actually about getting out and about, meeting voters and hearing directly from voters.”

Jeremy Corbyn and Jeremy Paxman

Paxman versus May and Corbyn – the highlights

Laughing, Mrs May said: “I’m interested in the fact that Jeremy Corbyn seems to be paying far more attention to how many appearances on telly he is doing. I think he ought to be paying a little more attention to thinking about Brexit

“That’s what I’m doing to make sure we get the best possible deal for Britain.”

:: Elderly expats ‘could cost NHS £1bn a year’

The BBC debate follows Monday’s Battle For Number 10 programme on Sky News where Mr Corbyn and Mrs May separately faced a grilling from voters and veteran interviewer Jeremy Paxman.

Mr Corbyn referred to this at a Labour event earlier in the day, where he appealed to the PM to “come and have a chat”.

He said it had been “very odd” being questioned when “the Prime Minister is hiding away in a room upstairs to come down and do exactly the same”.

Mr Corbyn added: “How ridiculous is that? Come on Prime Minister, come and have a chat, come and have a debate and I can be ever so polite, but there are a number of questions I want to put to you.”

No comments yet

Leave a Reply