Prime Minister David Cameron has issued a ‘final offer’ to broadcasters stating that he will only take part in one debate.
An email from the PM’s office says “the Prime Minister will not be participating in more than one debate.” The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky News have proposed several formats since October 2014, after the PM was not happy with UKIP being part of the debates and insisting that the Green Party should be included. The broadcasters then agreed to include The Greens and nationalist parties SNP and Plaid Cymru.
Cameron has always insisted the debates should take place outside of the election campaign, which is due to kick off at the end of this month when parliament is dissolved. It is reported that the Prime Minister will only take part in one of the debates, featuring the other six political parties. The DUP in Northern Ireland are looking to begin legal action over not being included in the debate.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has accused the PM of “running scared” in a tweet published this morning. He said: “@davidcameron why are you running scared of TV debates? The British people want a head-to-head TV debate. Let’s give it to them.”
Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has also called on the PM to take part in the debates and to stop trying to “dictate the terms” of them. He said: “@davidcameron British public want the debates so let’s get on with it. Stop holding them to ransom by trying to dictate the terms.”
The broadcasters issued a joint statement last month of their plans for the debates. The first debate, which would be one of the two seven-way debates, would be screened on ITV on 2nd April. Two weeks later, the BBC would air another seven-way debate, ending with Sky News and Channel 4 hosting a head-to-head debate between David Cameron and Ed Miliband.
The broadcasters have threatened to empty chair the debates if leaders do not show up.