May rejects calls for TV debates
THERESA May will refuse to take part in televised leaders' debates in the run-up to the June 8 general election, Number 10 sources have indicated.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn threw down the gauntlet to the UK prime minister with a challenge on Twitter saying: "If this general election is about leadership, as Theresa May said this morning, she should not be dodging head-to-head TV debates."
But a Downing Street source indicated the prime minister would reject any proposal for a TV showdown, saying: "Our answer is 'No'."
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron accused Mrs May of "bottling" the debates and urged broadcasters to "empty chair" her if she refused to take part.
"The prime minister's attempt to dodge scrutiny shows how she holds the public in contempt," said Mr Farron. "The British people deserve to see their potential leaders talking about the future of our country."
Broadcasters have a "moral duty" to stage debates, said the Lib Dem leader, adding: "I expect the broadcasters to do the right thing, don't let the Conservatives call the shots. If the prime minister won't attend - empty chair her."
A BBC spokesman said that it was too early to say whether the broadcaster would put in a bid to stage a debate. Live TV debates took place for the first time in a UK general election in 2010, and the experiment was repeated in 2015.