David Cameron and Michael Gove to face TV grilling over EU campaign
Prime Minister David Cameron and Justice Secretary Michael Gove will be among leading political figures quizzed about their campaigns for the EU referendum in a series of live TV programmes.
But the Prime Minister has reportedly refused to take part in head-to-head television debates before the referendum.
He will be questioned in programmes on Sky and ITV in June, but the Daily Telegraph said he would not joust with a Eurosceptic colleague in a televised debate.
Fellow Tory Boris Johnson, who is backing the Leave campaign, said he would be happy to debate with the Prime Minister on live TV, telling The Spectator magazine: "Put it this way. I think I'd look a bit of a wimp if I said no. For me to recuse myself from the debates would be wet."
Mr Cameron, who wants Britain to remain in the EU, will face questions from Sky News political editor Faisal Islam during an hour-long programme at 8pm on June 2, three weeks before the vote on June 23.
The studio audience will also have the chance to question the Prime Minister over his stance and why Britain should remain in the EU.
A later programme, also on Sky News, will see questions posed to Mr Gove, who is among those spearheading the Vote Leave campaign.
Mr Cameron and Ukip leader Nigel Farage will also take part in a live EU referendum event on ITV.
To be broadcast at 9pm on June 7, the two party leaders will take questions from a studio audience during the hour-long programme, hosted by Julie Etchingham, with Mr Farage, who has campaigned for Britain to leave the EU for more than 20 years, taking questions first.
ITV will also host a two-hour referendum debate on June 9, airing at 8pm, though political figures from both sides of the Brexit argument have yet to be announced.
John Ryley, head of Sky News, said: "We are delighted that the key protagonists on both sides of the debate have chosen Sky News as the first place to face journalistic and public scrutiny of their arguments."
Michael Jermey, ITV's director of news and current affairs, said: "People will be able to hear leading politicians on both sides of the debate put forward their arguments in the same place and in the same programme.
"An equal opportunity will be given for the Leave and Remain cases to be heard. Across the two programmes there'll be an opportunity for different shades of opinion from both camps to express their arguments."
A source from the Vote Leave campaign said: "This is an outrage. ITV admitted to us that the only reason they were asking for Nigel Farage was to secure the Prime Minister.
"They are allowing Number 10 to choose their opposition. This is because Number 10 are refusing to debate leading Vote Leave figures.
"ITV have effectively become part of the 'In' campaign. We will take them to court and we will win."
It is understood that Vote Leave wanted Justice Secretary Michael Gove to face Mr Cameron as their most effective debater.
A senior Vote Leave source said: "ITV is led by people like Robert Peston who campaigned for Britain to join the euro. ITV has lied to us in private while secretly stitching up a deal with Cameron to stop Boris Johnson or Michael Gove debating the issues properly."