Keir Starmer agrees to TV election debates with Rishi Sunak

Home Politics Keir Starmer agrees to TV election debates with Rishi Sunak
Keir Starmer agrees to TV election debates with Rishi Sunak

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has agreed to take part in televised election debates with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The Conservatives are pushing for six TV debates, one each week of the campaign, but Labour officials will only commit to two – run by the BBC and ITV.

Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Sunak claimed the Labour leader does not have the “courage” to face him.

Speaking to the BBC, Sir Keir said: “I can do one debate or 100, I know what Sunak is going to say.

“Of course there will be live TV debates, but I want to talk for as long as I can to voters directly and take my message to them and hear from them.

“At the end the power is with those voters.”

Labour sources told the BBC they will “not be tearing up the format established in previous elections just to suit this week’s whims of the Tory Party”.

Televised leaders’ debates in the UK began in 2010, when there were three, featuring Labour prime minister Gordon Brown, Conservative leader David Cameron and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg.

Labour sources indicated Sir Keir would be willing to take part in the two debates with the largest potential audiences – BBC and ITV.

The senior Labour figure told the BBC, Sir Keir wanted to take part in two head-to-head debate, rather than including smaller parties.

The source added they didn’t believe debates on other TV channels with smaller audiences was a valuable use of campaign time.

Writing for The Telegraph, Mr Sunak said: “There are big issues at stake in this election. Do we continue cutting taxes or raise taxes on working households as Labour would do?

“Do we prioritise energy security and your family’s finances in our approach to net zero or put environmental dogma first as Sir Keir Starmer and Ed Miliband would. And, above all, how do we give this country the secure future it deserves?

“I want to debate these issues with Sir Keir Starmer. But he doesn’t want to because he doesn’t have a plan and doesn’t have the courage to say what he wants to do.”

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