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I will not quickstep into a Brexit debate that clashes with Strictly, says May

The Prime Minister and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn have yet to agree a format or broadcaster to host a planned December 9 head-to-head.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said she is a fan of Strictly Come Dancing (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Prime Minister Theresa May has said she is a fan of Strictly Come Dancing (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Theresa May said she is “keen” to have a Brexit debate with Jeremy Corbyn but fears that holding it on ITV would mean she missed Strictly Come Dancing.

The Government and Labour are at loggerheads over whether to accept a BBC proposal for the discussion, favoured by Downing Street, or that of the commercial broadcaster, which Labour prefers.

Opposition leader Mr Corbyn last week complained on This Morning that the BBC’s proposal would clash with jungle-based reality show I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!

He said he wanted to be on ITV so he could watch the final of I’m a Celebrity ... I think his proposal meant that I would miss Strictly. I hate to say this on ITV but I’m a bit of a Strictly fan Theresa May

On Monday, Mrs May used the same platform to bemoan missing its ballroom dancing-based rival.

A head-to-head debate between the party leaders is due to take place on December 9, just two days before MPs are due to vote on her Withdrawal Agreement.

Mrs May told This Morning: “I’m keen to have a head-to-head with Jeremy Corbyn, I hope this actually goes through.

“He said he wanted to be on ITV so he could watch the final of I’m a Celebrity … I think his proposal meant that I would miss Strictly.

“I hate to say this on ITV but I’m a bit of a Strictly fan.”

She added that which channel would host the programme was still “being worked out”, with less than a week to go until it is supposed to go ahead.

ITV said it was “developing its plans for covering the build up and reaction to the crucial Commons vote next Tuesday”.

“As part of this, ITV have invited the Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition to appear in an ITV programme this Sunday evening,” it said.

“Invitations remain open.

“As always, it is up to those invited to decide whether they want to accept the invitation.”

Meanwhile leading Tory Eurosceptics warned that the BBC’s planned leaders’ TV debate would “breach the concept of impartiality” unless it involves a prominent Brexiteer.

The Daily Telegraph reported Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab and other former Cabinet ministers have written to BBC chairman Sir David Clementi to complain the views of the 17.4 million people who voted for Brexit would be “nowhere represented” in the discussion.

They noted that both Mrs May and Mr Corbyn voted Remain in the referendum, adding: “They are both wedded to slightly different models of staying in the customs union.”

They said that a senior Brexiteer should be included in the main line-up and not just on a proposed panel.

“This is, after all, not a general election and the Government or the opposition cannot be allowed to play fast and loose with representative democracy,” they said.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has complained the proposal for a debate between the Conservative and Labour leaders – both of whom now support Brexit – meant the views of Remainers were being excluded.

In a letter to the BBC, ITV and Sky, Sir Vince put himself forward as an advocate for a so-called people’s vote in a second referendum.

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