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The ultimatum: Labour has insisted that Theresa May accept a straightforward, head-to-head debate on Brexit with Jeremy Corbyn – as she originally demanded – on ANY television channel, rather than the biased, cobbled-together formats that have been put forward by the BBC.

The Labour Party has claimed Theresa May is “running away” from the straightforward, head-to-head TV debate on Brexit with Jeremy Corbyn that she demanded, by insisting on a confused format cobbled together by her friends at the BBC.

Labour said Mr Corbyn would be happy to take part in a head-to-head debate on the BBC, ITV or any other channel.

The BBC had put together a “confused” format, limiting debating time and building in an advantage for Mrs May with a “lop-sided” panel of other politicians and public figures, Labour claimed.

And Mrs May was warned that if she turns down the opportunity to take part in a straightforward debate, she would be “once again dodging a TV debate with the leader of the opposition”, as she did in the run-up to the general election of 2017.

Here is Labour’s statement in full:

Theresa May is running away from the scrutiny of a head to head debate with Jeremy Corbyn, as she did in the 2017 general election campaign.

When Number Ten told the media she wanted a head to head debate on her botched Brexit deal, Jeremy Corbyn immediately agreed.

Jeremy Corbyn then swiftly accepted ITV’s proposal for a straightforward head to head debate with Theresa May. But the prime minister has rejected it.

Since then, the prime minister’s team and their preferred broadcaster, the BBC, have put together a confused format which would limit head to head debating time, with a built-in advantage for the government.

The BBC’s latest proposal is a mish-mash, with a lop-sided panel of other politicians and public figures, not a straightforward head to head debate.

The BBC could, as ITV and Sky have proposed to do, fairly represent other viewpoints and parties in other programmes on its network.

The public has a right to a genuine head to head debate on the prime minister’s worst of all worlds deal.

Either Theresa May should accept ITV’s straightforward proposal or, if she prefers the BBC, to ask the corporation for a genuine head to head debate. Jeremy Corbyn is ready to take part in either.

If the prime minister turns down the opportunity of a genuine head to head debate, it will be clear she is once again dodging a TV debate with the leader of the opposition on the future of our country.

The mainstream media are already trying to spin this as precursor to talks breaking down and the debate being called off.

The Tories have already laid the groundwork for claims that this is due to cowardice by Labour.

But it is clear that, once again, it is Mrs May who is the coward.

She issued a challenge to Mr Corbyn for a head-to-head debate – with no extras. Then she tried to qualify that challenge by demanding the right to choose the venue and format of that debate.

It isn’t up to her.

In trying to force Mr Corbyn into an unacceptable situation and accusing him of running away when he rightly rejected it, her behaviour has been utterly dishonourable, weak, cowardly, and without any understanding of honour or integrity.

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