A Channel 4 election debate on the economy has been scrapped, amid claims from the Labour Party and SNP that Chancellor Sajid Javid is “running scared”.
The two parties suggested that Mr Javid refused to take part in the debate, proposed to take place this weekend, which shadow chancellor John McDonnell and the SNP’s Ian Blackford had agreed to.
Channel 4 said plans for the debate are “currently on hold” as it was “not possible to reach an agreement with all parties”.
Sajid Javid is running scared of debating with me and completely understandably, as the Tories are inventing silly figures which Labour would pull apart in a public debateJohn McDonnell
Mr McDonnell said: “Sajid Javid is running scared of debating with me and completely understandably, as the Tories are inventing silly figures which Labour would pull apart in a public debate.
“Clearly the Tories can’t even cost their own programme.
“Let me make it completely clear that the figures published by the Tories about Labour’s spending plans are fake news, and I reiterate that income tax rates under Labour won’t rise for 95% of people, and that only the top 5% would pay more.
“There will also be no VAT increases under Labour.”
Mr Blackford said: “The Tories are running scared of their appalling record in government, and the devastating harm they have caused communities across Scotland and the UK with their deep austerity cuts and extreme Brexit plans.
Channel 4 should empty chair the Tories if they fail to turn upIan Blackford, SNP
“It’s frankly embarrassing that the Tory Chancellor is doing a chicken run and refusing to defend his party’s record.
“Channel 4 should empty chair the Tories if they fail to turn up. The debate must go ahead – it would be a huge disservice to voters if broadcasters allowed the Tories to shut down debate and rig media coverage of the election in their favour.
“I look forward to taking part in this key debate on the economy, and to making the case that a vote for the SNP is a vote to escape Brexit and put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s.”
A Channel 4 spokesman said: “Plans for a chancellors/economy debate are currently on hold as it was not possible to reach an agreement with all parties.
“If the situation does change, we would certainly explore options on how best to proceed.
“We will be announcing our election plans in due course.”
Labour said the party has been informed that the proposed 90-minute set-piece on November 17 has been shelved.
Mr Javid told Channel 4 News on Monday evening: “I understand that there’s discussions going on. I’m not going to pre-empt those, but it’s always good to have a robust discussion, and I’m happy to discuss with John McDonnell any time.”
It is understood that Ed Davey of the Liberal Democrats was also set to take part in the debate.