BBC and ITV to hold leaders' debates without Theresa May

Theresa May is said to believe that there is no need for debates because the country faces a clear choice between her and Jeremy CorbynEPA

Serious public discussion is a cornerstone of our democracy, and any move backwards on televised debates would be a betrayal for the millions people who want to see what the different parties have to offer at this seismic moment in our country's history.

May's refusal also puts her on a "collision course" with the UK's two biggest broadcasters, says the paper.

"We won't be doing the television debates", May, the Conservative leader, said matter-of-factly in a live BBC morning radio interview. Downing Street issued similar comments to Channel 4 News, the Daily Mirror, and others. "So the 2017 general election will make the 2015 one look like "access all areas" as far as the Tories are concerned. She is expected to win the elections, and she doesn't want to risk a disappointing debate".

Mrs May, however, now could take part in a Question Time-style televised question and answer session with voters after ruling out a head-to-head debate with rivals during the general election campaign.

"Can the PM tell the people why she is running scared of a televised debate with Nicola Sturgeon?" he added, to which May replied: "I can assure the right honourable gentleman that I will be out there campaigning in every part of the United Kingdom, taking out there our proud record of a Conservative government that has delivered for every part of the United Kingdom".

ITV has unveiled plans for a debate, and the BBC is likely to follow suit.

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 past year.

And after Mrs May told the Commons on Wednesday that 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?"

There won't be any - at least not featuring the prime minister. "Why should anyone believe a word they say over the next seven weeks?"

LibDem leader Tim Farron added: "The Prime Minister's attempt to dodge scrutiny shows how she holds the public in contempt".

The Daily Express says an early election will bring Westminster in step with the electorate, says rescuing May from the indignity of "commanding a tiny majority among MPs despite having huge support among members of the public".

But for people to get a serious sense of what each party stands for, politicians should be putting themselves up for debate - not cowering from it.

Several Labour MPs have already announced they will not contest their seats, including veteran frontbencher Alan Johnson.

"We think it is very much in their interest that peak time debates go ahead".

May stepped in as prime minister without winning a general election or facing a debate.

"You can't say an election is part of a liberal democracy and then refuse to debate", said Natalie Fenton, co-director of the Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Why might she be avoiding us?

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