May under fire for missing UK election debate

Pauline Gross
June 2, 2017

She was accused of lacking "guts" and of "running away" from the 90-minute BBC debate.

The Labour leader's attendance had been kept open as an option for weeks, then penciled in on Monday according to Labour campaign officials. "I think debates where the politicians are squabbling among themselves doesn't do anything for the process of electioneering".

On Wednesday night Mr Corbyn took on Mrs May's stand-in Amber Rudd in a seven-way BBC election debate.

Ms Lucas, who performed strongly throughout, said Ms Rudd's response on disability benefits was "downright insulting".

At one point, Mr Corbyn asked "where is Theresa May, what happened to her" as he defended his own leadership abilities.

A Labour source told the Press Association that her failure to show up spoke for itself, adding: "If she won't debate, how can she negotiate?"

There were, however, a few extremely disappointed fans who took pains to point out that it was NOT in fact the almighty Bake Off which was about to air on BBC2 - because, you know, it moved to Channel 4, remember? - but that Farron had instead pointed us in the direction of spin-off show, Creme de la Creme.

Meanwhile, Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, branded May's decision not to attend "extreme cowardice" as her replacement Rudd floundered.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said Mrs May's comments were "delusional", pointing out that she had backed Remain in last year's referendum.

Jeremy Corbyn had previously said he would not take part, but did a U-Turn today, criticising the Tories for "a stage-managed arms-length campaign".

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In London, Mr Corbyn will deliver a rival vision for Brexit, setting out how he will protect the economy, jobs and living standards in the negotiations with Brussels set to begin on June 19.

Times reporter Francis Elliott was booed for asking if Mr Corbyn will govern with the support of Sinn Fein. Have you seen people sleeping around our stations?

Mr Corbyn also highlighted his plans to end the public sector pay cap and introduce a £10 an hour living wage by 2020.

Ms Rudd said the Conservatives had "made a clear decision to protect the poorest in our society", adding that "winter fuel payments won't be available for billionaires" under her party's policy. Rudd dismissed these as "tempting shiny election promises".

Ms Rudd, who was the Conservatives' representative, was also forced on to the defensive during a series of heated exchanges over cuts, security, immigration and the so-called dementia tax. "Jeremy Corbyn with his money tree, wish-list manifesto and no plan for Brexit or Theresa May with her record of delivery?"

"Theresa May is using this election for Brexit, but actually on the doorstep, people aren't mentioning that", she said.

"And as we come together behind this great national mission - to make a success of Brexit and of the opportunities it brings - we will build a more united country as our shared values, interests and aspirations bring us together", May will say.

But it was the Plaid Cymru leader's personal attack on UKIP leader Paul Nuttall that arguably attracted the most attention.

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Other reports by GizPress

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