UK Politics

Election: Jeremy Corbyn challenges Boris Johnson to TV debate

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn shake hands
Image caption The two leaders appeared on the Andrew Marr show last April

Jeremy Corbyn has challenged Boris Johnson to a head-to-head TV debate during the election campaign.

The Labour leader's spokesman said Mr Corbyn was "committed" to holding a debate and they were "in discussion with the broadcasters".

Political leaders' TV debates have featured in the last three general elections in 2010, 2015 and 2017.

But Mr Johnson swerved a question earlier from Lib Dem Jo Swinson, who challenged him to a debate.

If the government's election bill is passed into law, as expected, then the UK will go to the polls on 12 December, after a five week campaign.

Early on in this summer's Tory leadership race, Mr Johnson was criticised by his opponents for avoiding media scrutiny, but he later took part in a head-to-head with rival Jeremy Hunt.

During that campaign, Mr Johnson said he was "very keen" on TV debates.

Mr Corbyn's spokesman said: "As we demanded of Theresa May and she refused to agree, we would challenge Boris Johnson to agree today to head-to-head TV debates in this campaign."

However, when asked about a three-way discussion with Ms Swinson, the spokesman replied: "There are only two people who can be prime minister at the end of this campaign and I think the British public have a clear right to see them debate head-to-head on TV and hear their cases."

Image caption Amber Rudd stood in for Theresa May in the BBC's 2017 election debate

In 2017, then Conservative Party leader Theresa May declined to take part in TV debates ahead of the general election, saying she preferred "to get out and about and meet voters".

Instead, then Home Secretary Amber Rudd stood in for Mrs May during a BBC debate.

At Prime Minister's Questions, Liberal Democrat leader Ms Swinson told MPs that voters "deserve better than a choice between the two tired old parties", adding: "So will the prime minister commit today to take part in those three-way debates or is he going to run scared?"

Mr Johnson replied: "What the people of this country want is their promises kept.

"I'm not disposed to believe in the promises of the Liberal Democrats when their leaflets in London say they want to revoke the result of the referendum and their leaflets in the south-west of the country don't mention Brexit at all."

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