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Cameron accused of trying to dodge TV election debate

By Staff Reporter

David Cameron has been accused of making "pathetic excuses" to dodge televised general election debates as opponents ramped up their attack on him over the issue.

The Prime Minister reiterated that the Greens must be involved in the sessions if Ukip are - and suggested the Liberal Democrats should have their role downgraded because they are only a "minor" party.

But in bruising clashes in the Commons, Ed Miliband deployed Margaret Thatcher's famous barb by branding Mr Cameron "frit".

The Labour leader pointed out that in 2010 Mr Cameron had condemned "feeble" reasons for backing out of debates, and said "no one believed" his protests were genuine now.

"It is frankly a pathetic excuse. It is not for him, it is not for me, it is not for any party leader to decide who is in the debate. It is up to the broadcasters, that is the country we live in," Mr Miliband said.

"Is he really telling the people of Britain that he is going to seek to deny them the TV debate if he doesn't get to choose who is in them?"

Mr Cameron hit back that Mr Miliband was "chicken" for being unwilling to face off against Green Party leader Natalie Bennett as well as Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Ukip's Nigel Farage.

"I'm all for these debates but you cannot have two minor parties without the third minor party. Why is he frightened of debating the Green Party?"

The Tory leader indicated that he believed there should be two debates, rather than the three currently floated by the broadcasters.

"There are two credible sets of debates. You can either have a debate with all the national parties who appear in this House, or you can have a debate... between the two people who would become Prime Minister. Those are the credible debates."

Pressed over whether the comments meant the Prime Minister was ruling out the mooted three-way debate with Mr Miliband and Mr Clegg, a No 10 aide said: "The PM has repeatedly talked about the two scenarios - if you are going to have a multi-party debate he thinks the Greens should be involved and he can see a strong case for a two-party debate."

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