London: Houses of Parliment

The leaders’ debates will go ahead as planned as David Cameron comes under increasing pressure to participate in all three.

The Prime Minister is coming under pressure this weekend to accept taking part in the three televised debates ahead of the general election. The PM has said that he is only willing to take part in one of the debates. This would be the first, seven-way debate, to be screened on ITV next month.

David Cameron has insisted that the debates should take place before the official election campaign gets under way in April. Labour leader Ed Miliband has accepted the broadcaster’s proposals for the 3 debates and calls on the Prime Minister to stop “running scared.”

BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky News issued a joint statement on Friday confirming that they are not budging on the debate formats, but are willing to negotiate with the Prime Minister on the head-to-head debate. Channel 4 and Sky News, who will co-produce the Cameron v Miliband debate, say they are willing to look at changing the date if both leaders can agree on a new date.

The 2nd April will see the first of the leaders’ debates. Screened on ITV, seven party leaders will do battle, in a stark contrast to the three -way debates of the 2010 general election. This debate will see Cameron and Miliband joined by Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats), Nigel Farage (UKIP), Natalie Bennett (Green Party), Nicola Sturgeon (Scottish National Party) and Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru).

Two weeks later on the 16th April, the BBC will produce another seven-way debate. The third debate, to be on 30th April, and exactly a week from when the nation goes to the polls, would see Sky News and Channel 4 produce the two-way debate between David Cameron and Ed Miliband.

In a joint statement, the broadcasters said: “The broadcasters would like the Prime Minister to reconsider taking part in all of these debates. 22 million people watched the leaders’ debates in 2010 and there is a public desire and expectation for them to happen again in 2015.”

The Prime Minister was at a Conservative event on Saturday. He delivered a speech talking about the impending election but didn’t speak about the leaders’ debates. Labour leader Ed Miliband is in Edinburgh at the Scottish Labour Conference where he spoke about accepting the broadcasters’ invitation.

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