POLL: Should Theresa May take part in TV election debates?

We want to know your thoughts on Theresa May's decision not to take part in televised debates before the General Election.

ITV leaders' debate
David Cameron took part in a TV debate before the 2015 election, but Theresa May says she won't be involved this year

The Prime Minister has confirmed she will not face Jeremy Corbyn and said she believed campaigning should be getting "out and about" meeting voters.

There have been calls for TV broadcasters to "empty chair" Mrs May in election-time leaders' debates if she refuses to take part.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We won't be doing television debates."

Mrs May added: "I believe in campaigns where politicians actually get out and about and meet with voters.

"That's what I have always believed in, it's what I still believe and I still do it - as Prime Minister, as a constituency MP, I still go out and knock on doors in my constituency.

"That's what I believe in doing, that's what I'm going to be doing around this campaign."

Within hours of the Prime Minister announcing her June 8 snap election, Labour leader Mr Corbyn threw down the gauntlet to the Prime Minister to agree to televised debates, which he said were "what democracy needs and what the British people deserve".

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron accused Mrs May of "bottling" and said broadcasters had a "moral duty" to go ahead with the showdowns even if she fails to take part.

And Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood - whose profile received a major boost from her involvement in two of the 2015 broadcasts - said: "Theresa May should be empty chaired if she doesn't show up to any planned TV debates."

Veteran broadcaster David Dimbleby, who hosted debates on the BBC in 2010 and 2015, has warned the "perilous" stance could backfire on the PM.

A BBC spokesman said it was too early to say whether the broadcaster would seek to stage a debate.

ITV is understood to be considering hosting a broadcast.

Live TV debates took place for the first time in a UK General Election in 2010, with three clashes between the leaders of the three biggest national parties, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

Following considerable wrangling over formats, the 2015 election campaign saw one debate featuring Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg alongside Labour's Ed Miliband and leaders of Ukip, the Scottish National Party, Greens and Plaid Cymru, as well as a second debate with the five non-coalition parties and programmes in which Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg and Mr Miliband answered questions but did not debate face-to-face.

SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon argued that TV debates should go ahead without Mrs May.

Ms Sturgeon tweeted: "If PM doesnt have the confidence to debate her plans on TV with other leaders, broadcasters should empty chair her and go ahead anyway."

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Comments for: "POLL: Should Theresa May take part in TV election debates?"

MrW

Considering the short timescale from now until a June 8th, I would think TV debates are the last thing on the MP's or party leaders minds. They'll have enough to do encouraging people to vote due to voter apathy. Then there's the printing and distribution of the political party manifestos not forgetting the voting cards and postal votes.

It's just TV executives going down the American route with certain broadcasters having their own agendas and biased presenters. Let's just get on with it so we can get on with our lives and the inevitable movement towards leaving Europe.

Leon

She has enough to worry about running our country, dealing with Brexit, North Korea, Syria, home security and many other probles facing her at the moment. We all know what she stands for, it is only the opposition who wants her to debate, in a vain attempt to catch her out on something. The election was called because she knows the Conservative party will gain seats no matter what. Under normal circumstances things would be different, but this is a tactical move to gain more support in the house of commons.

LordToffinghamOfTettenhall

The thing is, apart from her autocratic leanings, we don't know what she stands for, at all. She doesn't answer questions, there is no May manifesto, she was largely inconsistent as home secretary, campaigned for 'remain', and who's resounding sound byte is the banal 'brexit means brexit'.

Yet we're to blindly trust her to not only handle brexit, but keep the country on the whole running as well?

johnwolf49

It's not her that keeps the country running, she is the spokesperson for the government, its the MPs voted by the public that run the country.

Being a labour voter/member for many years God help us if corbyn and his party ever get in, a vote for labour will mean uncontrollable immigration, re entry into the EU, a leader who is a terrorist sympathiser and a number two who is more interested in filling his own greedy pockets.

LordToffinghamOfTettenhall

For a labour voter, you don't half fall for the right wing gutter press spin.

Sparkles mum

A perfect opportunity MISSED to put across to the masses ( well those that watch it ) what her party plans to do about all manner of things not just Brexit . My guess is she wants to avoid the riske of the electorate having being able to have any direct comparison between herself and the other party leaders in respect of her personality and in some areas like the NHS and Social Care where Tories fall short on substance which is why it's in crisis.

Robert

She is PM by default- unelected. She should appear with all parties for discussion.. Other parties will have a great opportunity to put over their aspiration - May and Torys wont!.

Suzie

Absolutely she should appear with other Party Leaders in TV debate. She is well known for not being able to think on her feet, well let the Electorate see what she's made of and let them decide if they are willing to take a gamble. I for one are not , no matter what she says.

johnwolf49

You obviously never watch prime ministers question time suzie, can't think on her feet

Oh really?!

I'm really surprised that this question is being asked and that a significant number of people believe that Mrs May should not participate. Yes she is the PM, yes that means that she has plenty to do and has to take ultimate responsibility, but she is asking for approval to make her position even more powerful vis the opposition and any dissenters in her own ranks. We should see her challenging and being challenged by her opponents; we need and deserve a full debate of the issues and not the predictable sycophancy of the majority of the press.

shahbaz

theresa may is a coward. i agree with the leaders of the opposition parties. the debates should be held/broadcast without theresa may.

Albrightondek

I wonder just how many people actually watch these debates. I've seen parts of these programmes before getting tired of the slanging match that takes place, and switching over to something far more interesting.

What would probably be more revealing is for the leaders giving an interview seperately, with a selected set of journalists who would grill them with pertinent questions without interuptions.

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