BBC and ITV plan leaders' debates despite May's refusal to take part

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The Prime Minister's comments have been heavily criticised by her opponents, with some urging broadcasters to "empty chair her" if she refuses to take part. "It's what democracy needs and what the British people deserve".

But she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We won't be doing television debates".

If PM doesnt have the confidence to debate her plans on TV with other leaders, broadcasters should empty chair her and go ahead anyway.

"That's what I believe in doing, that's what I'm going to be doing around this campaign".

A number of senior politicians - including Nigel Farage and Nicola Sturgeon - lined up once again in the run up to the 2015 election, while many more took part in EU Referendum debates organised by a series of media outlets a year ago.

Although a mainstay of U.S. presidential elections for decades, live TV debates during United Kingdom general elections are a fairly new concept. "We will announce more details in due course".

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Meanwhile Jonathan Munro, the BBC's Head of Newsgathering, said he did "not want to get in a position where any party leader stops us doing a programme that we think is in the public interest".

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, who faced Mrs May when they were rival candidates at the 1992 general election in North West Durham, said: "The Prime Minister and I, back in 1992, debated publicly, forcibly and amicably when we were both candidates together".

A BBC spokesman said it was too early to say whether the broadcaster would put in a bid to stage a debate.

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After telling the Commons she was proud of what the Conservatives had achieved in government, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn asked: "If Theresa May is so proud of her record, why won't she debate it?"

Only 31% of those surveyed thought no such events should take place between now and 8 June - while 5% said they were unsure.

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Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out taking part in UK-wide leaders debates, despite her predecessors Gordon Brown and David Cameron taking part at the last two elections.

"If the Prime Minister is so confident of her hard-Brexit, pro-austerity, anti-immigration case why won't she debate opposition leaders?"

They included a seven-way party leaders' TV debate, which was watched on ITV by an average audience of 7 million viewers.

"Politicians may moan about shallow, personality led political reporting but the debates are the essence of public service broadcasting", said one broadcaster who was involved in previous discussions over the televised debates.

Although unpopular, observers consider May's decision to be a political calculation as she holds a roughly 20-point lead in the polls.

He led the Remain campaign in the European Union referendum as its highest-profile spokesperson, while May avoided most chances to speak forcefully in favour or against Brexit (officially, she campaigned to remain and is now the prime minister who's leading the country out of the EU).

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