Plans for Sunday debate on BBC cancelled
The BBC has cancelled for a televised Brexit debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn on Sunday night after Labour objected to the format.
The move, which will allow viewers to watch the scheduled final episode of David Attenborough’s Dynasties programme on BBC One, still leaves open the possibility of a similar debate on ITV this weekend.
The prime minister proposed the debate on her deal with the EU last week, prompting days of discussions between political parties and the broadcasters over who would host the programme.
Labour backed a proposal by ITV, which consisted of a simple head-to-head format hosted by Julie Etchingham, while Downing Street preferred the BBC’s offer of a debate featuring a panel of eight experts and representatives of smaller parties.
Until now, none of the broadcasters or political parties was willing to compromise, prompting the farcical situation in which both ITV and BBC were planning for a live television show scheduled to take place in five days in the same timeslot, with no idea whether either of the main guests would turn up.
The broadcaster has confirmed it has withdrawn from the process, but ITV is still interested in hosting the debate, meaning the prime minister has the difficult decision of either accepting her rival’s preferred format or appearing to run away from a debate that she proposed.
“We are disappointed that we could not reach an agreement on the BBC’s proposal for a debate on Brexit,” a BBC spokesperson said.
Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London yesterday.