Theresa May on the ropes over her refusal to debate with Jeremy Corbyn

Written by David Singleton on 19 April 2017 in Diary

The PM claimed that she really wants to talk to voters.

Theresa May has explained her refusal to take part in general election take part in TV debates ahead of the planned general election, saying she wants to meet voters instead.

Jeremy Corbyn has accused the prime minister of “dodging” a head-to-head showdown, while the Lib Dems have urged broadcasters to “empty chair” her.

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.

"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 told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

But the prime minister did stick to her guns as she was grilled by Nick Robinson on the Radio 4's Today programme.

May initially tried to defend her position by pointing out that she enjoys weekly clashes with Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions.

“I’m constantly debating with my opponents… I’ll be debating with Jeremy Corbyn later today in the House of Commons,” she said.

But she then changed tack after Robinson pressed on, asking why she was “running scared” of debating with her political opponents.

“Because I believe in campaigns where politicians get out and about and meet voters,” she replied.

“It’s what I’ve always believed in and what I still believe in. I still do it…. 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.”



May also issued a rare rebuke to the Daily Mail after the paper horrified many people by running a front page featuring a close-up of the prime minister with the headline: “Crush the saboteurs”.

It described May’s decision as a “stunning move” and claimed she was calling the bluff of “Remoaners”. But asked whether she saw her opponents as “saboteurs”, the prime minister took issue with the Mail.

“Absolutely not, politics and democracy are about, of course, people having different opinions, different views,” she said.




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