NEWS
04/12/2018 16:10 GMT | Updated 05/12/2018 09:28 GMT

BBC Has Cancelled Plans To Host Theresa May vs Jeremy Corbyn Brexit Debate

The corporation is “disappointed” an agreement on the format could not be reached.

Press Association
May and Corbyn will not be going head to head... on the BBC at least

The BBC has announced that it will not be airing a Brexit debate featuring Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn this weekend. 

Last week, May agreed to go up against Corbyn in a live debate, but they failed to reach an agreement on what form the programme should take. 

After plenty of back and forth over the BBC’s plan, ITV’s rival one and whether it’s fair that the debate would clash with popular reality TV shows, the BBC has shelved its offer. 

In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, a spokesperson said the corporation is “disappointed” an agreement on the debate format could not be reached. 

“We have been clear throughout the whole of this process that, as well as a substantive head-to-head debate, any programme we broadcast would need to include other voices, including other political parties, to reflect the wide range of views the public and parliamentarians hold about Brexit,” the statement read.

“We believe ours was a fair and appropriate format for those taking part and, crucially, for our audiences around the country, and it is a shame we will not be able to bring them this programme.”

If it had gone ahead, the BBC debate would have featured a head-to-head debate between the prime minister and the Labour leader, followed by a discussion between eight panellists, including politicians, with a wide range of views on Brexit. 

It would have ended “with further head-to-head debate and closing statements”, the BBC statement added.

Following the BBC’s announcement, a Downing Street spokesman reiterated their earlier claim that Corbyn is “running scared” from the debate. 

“The Prime Minister issued the original challenge to Jeremy Corbyn for a head to head debate, and despite her flexibility on timing and format, Jeremy Corbyn and Labour have done nothing but raise false and flimsy objections to the BBC’s proposal,” they said. 

“There was a sensible and balanced proposal on the table but Jeremy Corbyn refused to take part.

“He is running scared of proper scrutiny, but we remain committed to holding a debate and will continue to press for a format that ensures a range of voices are heard alongside a substantial head to head.”

There is no word yet on whether ITV’s proposal is still on the table.

May initially agreed to a live debate on the BBC last Thursday.

Just a day later, Corbyn – who had previously said he would enjoy the chance to go up against the prime minister on live TV – revealed he preferred ITV’s proposal, half-jokingly adding that it would mean he could still watch the ‘I’m A Celeb’ final

Downing Street then slammed Corbyn for failing to agree on a plan, before May spoke out and said she didn’t want to miss ‘Strictly’.