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PM defends TV debate no-show as Corbyn decides on last-minute appearance

PM defends TV debate no-show as Corbyn decides on last-minute appearance

Jeremy Corbyn has announced he will take part in a live TV General Election debate tonight and challenged Theresa May to join him.

Mr Robertson said: "Theresa May called this election in the hope of crushing parliamentary opposition but instead the campaign has exposed her weak and wobbly leadership, as well as Tory plans to attack the incomes of older people and their increasingly reckless approach to Brexit".

The Labour leader has ruled out forming a coalition with the SNP but after YouGov modelling suggested the June 8 poll could result in no party gaining an overall majority, Mr Corbyn sidestepped questions about looser arrangements which could see him take the keys to Number 10.

The YouGov model suggested May would lose 20 seats and her 17-seat working majority in the 650-seat British parliament - meaning May would be well short of the 326 seats needed to form a government.

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But opinion polls have showed the gap between the Conservatives and Labour closing.

However, May has turned down Corbyn's latest invitation and said it is "more important" for her to remain on with the campaign trail and "take questions from members of the public who are going to be voting on 8 June".

A spokesperson for Corbyn said: "Theresa May's refusal to take part showed her weakness".

They were joined in the debate in Cambridge by the Lib Dems' Tim Farron, SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson, Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas and the UKIP leader Paul Nuttall.

Mrs May faced accusations of "extreme cowardice" as the Tories confirmed they would be represented by Home Secretary Amber Rudd, while other parties send their leaders - or in the case of the Scottish National Party, its leader in Westminster.

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Mr Corbyn told her: "Have you been to a food bank?"

Corbyn's drive to align Labour more closely with its socialist roots and eschew the pro-business centrist platform championed by three-time election victor Blair has split the party.

May's decision to avoid the debate stage makes sense given how underwhelming she was in this week's televised town hall - during which some audience members openly laughed at her - but it is a dramatic reversal from the "presidential style" campaign her advisers initially charted for her, in which her supposedly clear advantage over Corbyn as a plausible prime minister was supposed to be the main focus.

I don't know what she is doing this evening, but it's not far from London.

"Debates where the politicians are squabbling among themselves doesn't do anything for the process of electioneering".

"We can't be sure Theresa May is going to achieve her political objective of a landslide majority", he said.

"It's actually about getting out and about, meeting voters and hearing directly from voters".

The Home Secretary was laughed at by the audience as she called for people to "judge us on our record" on the public finances.

But Conservatives dismissed Mr Corbyn's figures as "dodgy", pointing to official statistics showing falling NHS waiting times and hospital deficits, as well as their own manifesto promise to increase real-terms spending on schools. I believe that with determination, ingenuity and common sense, we can use this moment of great national change to shape a better future for Britain.


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