Belfast Telegraph

May and Corbyn will appear on live TV but not together

By PA Reporters

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are to face separate interviews in front of a live studio audience in a joint programme broadcast by Sky News and Channel 4.

The 90-minute programme on May 29 will be the first TV set-piece featuring the two leaders of the election campaign, ahead of a BBC Question Time special featuring the pair on June 2.

Sky News political editor Faisal Islam will host the audience question-and-answer sessions, while veteran interrogator Jeremy Paxman will interview the Conservative and Labour leaders separately.

Sky also announced editor-at-large Adam Boulton and presenter Sophy Ridge will co-host their Vote 2017 results programme from 9pm on the evening of election day, June 8.

Meanwhile, ITV said it was keeping open its invitation for Mrs May and Mr Corbyn to take part in a TV leaders' debate right up to the moment filming starts on Thursday.

Mrs May has said she will not take part in any head-to-head televised clashes with the Labour leader, who has himself indicated he will not appear in any debate if the PM is not present.

However, the broadcaster will not "empty chair" any leaders who do not attend, stating there will be the "right number of podiums for leaders who attend on the night".

Mr Corbyn issued a direct challenge to a live debate to the Prime Minister during a Facebook question and answer session. In his challenge, read out by ITV political editor Robert Peston, the Labour leader said: "Hello Theresa May, as Prime Minister you've served your elite friends by giving them tax cuts when wages have stagnated, house-building is at its lowest since the 1920s, there are 20,000 fewer police on our streets since 2010 and the NHS is in crisis. Do you not think the British people deserve to see me and you debate live and on television?"

Mrs May responded: "What I think is more important is actually that I and he take questions directly from the voters."

The leaders of the seven parties represented in the 2015 ITV Leaders' Debate, the Conservatives, Labour, SNP, Liberal Democrats, Ukip, Plaid Cymru and the Greens, have been invited to attend the live televised showdown on Thursday evening in Salford. Lib Dem leader Tim Farron and Ukip's Paul Nuttall have confirmed they will take part. They will be able to make short opening and closing statements and face questions from the audience.

The public will be able to quiz Mrs May and Mr Corbyn in a BBC Question Time special hosted by veteran broadcaster David Dimbleby, while Mr Farron and Nicola Sturgeon will appear in a second programme. The BBC will also broadcast a live election debate on May 31 from Cambridge, involving senior Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Green Party and Ukip politicians.

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