Theresa May has confirmed she does not want to take part in any televised election debates with Jeremy Corbyn during the campaign.
The prime minister this morning told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme “we wont be doing the TV debates”.
“I believe in campaigns where politicians get out and about and meet the voters. It’s what I have always believed in. It’s what I still believe in. I still do it as prime minister who is a constituency MP. I still go out and knock on doors in my constituency,” she said.
Asked if she was “scared” of going head-to-head against the Labour leader, May said: “I am not.”
MPs are expected later today to vote in favour of allowing May to hold an election on June 8.
John McDonnell said May was intimidated by Corbyn’s past performance in televised debates.
“If you look at that happened with Jeremy Corbyn when he was elected leader of the Labour Party, no one gave him a chance whatsoever. And then he had the first live TV debate with the other candidates and all of a sudden he became a candidate who could win,” the shadow chancellor told Sky News.
“That’s why she is avoiding the debates and I don’t think that will hold. I think people out there want to have an honest debate.”
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has said broadcasters had a “moral duty” to hold debates and should empty chair May if she refused to take part.
And Conservative MP Nigel Evans yesterday said the prime minister should “go head-to-head in as many TV debates with the leader of the Opposition as possible”.
In 2015, David Cameron took part in one TV debate alongside the leaders of six other parties including Ed Miliband.
TV debates first took place in 2010 - with the first leading to a surge in support for Nick Clegg.