Johnson and Corbyn head for TV election showdown

UK News | Published:

The Tory and Labour leaders will go head-to-head in the first televised debate of the campaign.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are set to go head-to-head in the first televised debate of the General Election campaign.

The two leaders will face off in an hour-long encounter screened live on ITV on Tuesday evening.

The way was cleared for the debate to go ahead after the High Court in London rejected a legal challenge by the Liberal Democrats and the SNP over the exclusion of their leaders.

With Labour trailing in the opinion polls, Mr Corbyn goes into the event – staged at studios in MediaCityUK, Salford – hoping for an opportunity to make up ground on the Conservatives.

General Election 2019
Jeremy Corbyn is looking to make up ground on the Tories (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The debate takes place as:

– The Conservatives promise they would legislate to ensure adults convicted of murdering a child spend the rest of their life in prison in all but “exceptional” circumstances.

– Shadow chancellor John McDonnell accuses the Tories of handing tax breaks to billionaires, saying such levels of wealth are “obscene”.


– The Lib Dems pledge to put 1p on income tax to provide an additional £35 billion for the NHS.

– First Minister Nicola Sturgeon calls for immigration powers to be devolved from Westminster to to Scotland.

– The Greens launch their election manifesto with a pledge to invest £100 billion a year in tackling climate change.

Ahead of their encounter, Mr Johnson sought to put pressure on Mr Corbyn with an open letter calling on him to say which way he would recommend people should vote in Labour’s proposed second EU referendum.


General Election 2019
Boris Johnson has challenged Jeremy Corbyn to say which way he would vote in a second EU referendum (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Lib Dems and the SNP, meanwhile, remain angry at the exclusion of Jo Swinson and Ms Sturgeon from Tuesday’s televised showdown.

The two parties contested ITV’s decision at a hearing in London on Monday, arguing it was unlawful because it breached impartiality rules.

But two leading judges ruled the decision was not open to challenge in the courts and that the parties’ only recourse was to complain to the regulator, Ofcom.

General Election 2019
The Lib Dems are furious at the exclusion of Jo Swinson from the ITV debate (Aaron Chown/PA)

“Our democracy should not be in the hands of invisible corporate structures and arrangements for such debates should always be accessible and transparent,” she said.

“We will not set our principles aside, we will continue this fight. Not just for this General Election, but for our future democracy too.”

The SNP’s leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, said: “The result of the decision to exclude the SNP is to discriminate against Scottish voters and to effectively treat them as second-class citizens.

General Election 2019
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said their exclusion discriminates against Scottish voters (Isabel Infantes/PA)

ITV said in a statement: “We welcome the court’s decision and will continue with our comprehensive election coverage as planned.”

Ms Swinson is due to take part in a three-way debate with Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn hosted by Sky on November 28.

The following day, the BBC will host a seven-way debate in Cardiff on November 29, between leaders or senior figures from the seven major GB political parties.

The BBC will then host a “prime ministerial debate” on December 6 from Southampton between Mr Corbyn and Mr Johnson.

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