BBC to host head-to-head debate between Corbyn and Johnson ahead of UK election

BBC to host head-to-head debate between Corbyn and Johnson ahead of UK election

The BBC is set to host a head-to-head debate between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn ahead of the General Election.

The broadcaster’s Prime Ministerial Debate will be hosted by journalist Nick Robinson on December 6 from Southampton.

A “seven-way podium debate” will also take place in Cardiff the week before, on November 29, between “leaders or senior figures from the seven major GB political parties”.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson accused the BBC of being “complicit in another establishment stitch-up” because she was not selected to take part in the head-to-head debate.

Ms Swinson said: “Millions of people voted to Remain in 2016. After three years of chaos, it is shocking that the Liberal Democrats – the strongest party of Remain – are being denied the opportunity to challenge Johnson and Corbyn on Brexit.”

The Lib Dems have already filed a complaint against ITV because Ms Swinson was excluded from the channel’s planned head-to-head debate on November 19.

Ms Swinson said on Wednesday the party will “pursue legal avenues”, adding that the broadcaster “cannot and should not exclude the only woman leader who is able to be the next prime minister”.

Meanwhile, the SNP has complained about Sky’s proposed three-way debate between Mr Johnson, Mr Corbyn and Ms Swinson on November 28 because Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was not invited.

The BBC also said a special two-hour long version of Question Time will be broadcast on November 22, in which Mr Johnson, Mr Corbyn, Ms Sturgeon and Ms Swinson will each take questions from the audience for 30 minutes.

A debate aimed at voters under 30 will also be aired and the BBC will host debates in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland featuring the main parties in each country.

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown after an election debate in 2010 (Gareth Fuller/PA)
David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown after an election debate in 2010 (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Televised general election debates started in 2010, with Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg clashing in three debates.

In subsequent elections, the formats have been different and have involved battles between the broadcasters and party leaderships over who should be invited to debate whom.

In 2017, then-PM Theresa May refused to take part in a seven-way debate on the BBC, sending then-home secretary Amber Rudd instead.

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