POLITICS

BBC Election Debate 2017: 5 Times Theresa May Was Burned For 'Not Bothering' To Turn Up

'The first rule of leadership is to show up.'

31/05/2017 21:05 BST | Updated 01/06/2017 09:19 BST

Theresa May was mocked by rival party leaders on Wednesday evening after she decided to send Home Secretary Amber Rudd to take part in the live BBC election debate in her place.

Jeremy Corbyn decided at the last minute to take part in the Cambridge debate having initially said he would stay away if the prime minister did not turn up.

Corbyn was joined on stage by Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, Ukip leader Paul Nuttall and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood. The SNP’s deputy leader Angus Robertson stood in for Nicola Sturgeon.

May said she was not attending because she would be “thinking about Brexit negotiations”. 

Here are the five times May was attacked for dodging the debate.

1. Tim Farron Zinger #1

Tim Farron was straight out of the gates. “Where do you think Theresa May is tonight? Take a look out your window. She might be out there sizing up your house to pay for your social care,” he said.

The Conservative Party’s social care policy has been blamed by some Tory candidates for Labour’s surge in the polls. One described the manifesto to HuffPost UK as a “clusterfuck”.

2. Leanne Wood Says Theresa May Is ‘Afraid’

Plaid Cymru’s leader also used her opening statement to mock the prime minister for not taking part in the debate.

“Theresa May called this election because she’s taking you for granted. She won’t turn up to these debates, because her campaign of soundbites is falling apart,” she said. “Unlike Theresa May, I am not afraid to defend my policies, my principles, my values.”

3. House Of Cards Tweets

Even the Twitter account for the Netflix series House of Cards was making fun of the prime minister - tweeting directly at Theresa May half an hour into the debate.

4. Caroline Lucas Asks Where The PM Is

Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas also had a pop. “I think the first rule of leadership is to show up,” she said. May, Lucas said, could “not even be bothered to come and debate the issues at stake”. 

5. Tim Farron Zinger #2

Tim Farron went for Theresa May again in his closing statement. “Amber Rudd is up next,” he said. She is not the prime minister. The prime minister is not here tonight. She can’t be bothered. So why should you.

“In fact Bake Off is on BBC Two next. Why not make yourself a brew? You are not worth Theresa May’s time, don’t give her yours.”

PA Wire/PA Images

Rudd, who was assailed from all sides during the 90-minute exchanges, did her best to defend herself.

“Theresa May may not be here, but I hope to make a good fist of setting out Conservative Party policy,” she said.“Part of being a good leader is having as good strong team around you, I am proud to be here representing the prime minister.”

Theresa May’s explains why she would not take part: