Keir Starmer Agrees To General Election TV Debates With 'Desperate' Rishi Sunak

But Labour leader says he prefers "talking to voters directly".
Gareth Fuller - PA Images via Getty Images

Keir Starmer has said he will take part in live general election TV debates with Rishi Sunak.

The Conservatives are reported to want one debate for every week of the six week long campaign.

It seems more likely Labour will agree to just two, one on the BBC and on one ITV.

Speaking to Sky News on Friday morning, Starmer dismissed Tory claims he was “too scared” to debate Sunak head-to-head.

“Of course there are going to be TV debates,” he said. “They are part and parcel of the election cycle now.”

The Labour leader added Sunak was “sounding a bit desperate” with his demands for six clashes.

“I obviously want to spend as much of my time talking to voters directly,” Starmer said.

The Labour leader has previously said it was “nonsense” to claim he did not want to debate the prime minister.

Labour is comfortably ahead in the polls and it is usually the party with most work to do - in this case the Tories - who are more keen for debates.

There is no law that requires Sunak, Starmer or other party leaders to take part in debates.

But the prime minister did go head-to-head Liz Truss in his losing 2022 Tory leadership campaign.

General election TV debates first took place in 2010, which saw Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg capture the limelight.

In 2019 there were - for the first time - two head-to-head debates between the PM and Opposition leader, with Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn facing-off.

The first clash drew an average audience of 6.7 million viewers - a third of the British TV audience.

Theresa May infamously ducked the debates during her disastrous 2017 campaign, sending then-home secretary Amber Rudd in her place.

While in 2015, David Cameron featured in one debate with other party leaders.


What's Hot