Prime Minister Theresa May has accepted the BBC’s offer to debate Brexit on Sunday 9th December – but Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is yet to agree to the broadcaster’s pitch.
Since it was revealed on Wednesday that both May and Corbyn were likely to engage in a live TV debate on how Britain leaves the EU, just two days before the House of Commons vote on May’s Brexit deal, broadcasters have been vying to host the second ever head-to-head between the leaders of the UK’s two main parties.
Now, it looks like the BBC is front of the pack, with the Corporation announcing that May has accepted its offer to host the debate – albeit hearing of the decision via the same leaks as the rest of the press.
A tweet from the BBC News Press Team’s Twitter account reads: “Like everyone else, we’ve just heard the Prime Minister has accepted the BBC’s offer to take part in a debate on the Brexit deal on Sunday 9 December. We’re delighted she’s agreed and hope to hear soon from the Labour party.”
A second tweet added: “We have been discussing debate formats with both parties and will announce further details soon.”
However, according to The Sun’s political editor Tom Newton Dunn, Corbyn is still said to prefer ITV’s pitch to host the debate.
Dunn wrote: “Corbyn said to prefer ITV’s pitch – not least because of its 7pm start time, avoiding a clash with I’m A Celebrity. All still in play, I’m told.”
The I’m a Celebrity final is due to begin at 9pm on ITV with the length of the leaders’ debate still unclear. Should the BBC go with an 8pm start and run for more than an hour, it is likely to clash with the jungle series’ finale.
Appearing on ITV’s This Morning on Thursday, Corbyn confirmed he would prefer the debate to air on that channel.
“I’ve accepted the idea of a debate, very happy to do so,” he said. “I did that on Sunday night as soon as the Prime Minister made the suggestion. The ITV offer seemed a sensible one, it reaches a wide audience and the timing looked good to me, because it’s not inconveniencing people who may wish to watch other things later in the evening.
“We should always have respect for viewers. And also we want to get the widest possible and most diverse audience.”