POLITICS

BBC Election Debate 2017: Jeremy Corbyn Confirms He Will Take Part As He Challenges Theresa May To Head-To-Head

'Come on Prime Minister, come and have a chat'.

31/05/2017 11:39 BST | Updated 31/05/2017 14:46 BST

Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed he will take part in tonight’s BBC debate as he renewed calls for Theresa May to face him head-to-head.

The Labour leader urged the Prime Minister to ‘come and have a chat’ and answer his questions face-to-face.

He told activists in Reading: “There is a debate in Cambridge tonight I invite her to go to Cambridge debate her record. And let the public make up their mind.”

In an official statement, he added: “I will be taking part in tonight’s debate because I believe we must give people the chance to hear and engage with the leaders of the main parties before they vote.

“I have never been afraid of a debate in my life. Labour’s campaign has been about taking our polices to people across the country and listening to the concerns of voters.

“The Tories have been conducting a stage-managed arms-length campaign and have treated the public with contempt. Refusing to join me in Cambridge tonight would be another sign of Theresa May’s weakness, not strength.”

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Corbyn with activists in Reading.

Corbyn appeared at a press conference alongside shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth and shadow education secretary Angela Rayner earlier today to highlight the impact of ‘Tory cuts’ on the NHS and schools.

He branded May’s jibe he would be ‘naked and alone’ in Brexit negotiations ‘totally inappropriate’ and said it was ‘ridiculous’ that he and Theresa May answered questions in front of an audience separately at Sky’s studios on Monday.

“There’s something very odd about going down to Sky the other night, me being brought in front of an audience, and I was very happy to do so, to answer questions,” Corbyn said.

 “I sat in front of Jeremy Paxman - and an utter pleasure it was to be having a chat with Jeremy.  There is no finer way to spend a Monday evening.

“With the PM hiding away in a room upstairs to come down and do the exact same thing.  How ridiculous is that?  Come on Prime Minister.  Come and have a chat.  Come and have a debate, I can be ever so polite.”

He said he was sure May would be watching his appeal as she ‘would not be busy preparing for a debate this evening’.

PA Wire/PA Images

Theresa May, who spent the day on campaign visits in Bath and Somerset, was quizzed by BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg on whether she was scared to face Corbyn.

The PM said: “I have been taking him on directly week in week out at Prime Minister’s Questions.  Yes, public scrutiny is important for this election campaign but that is why taking questions from members of the public who are going to be voting on June 8 is so important.”