May under pressure after Corbyn agrees to take part in TV debate

The British PM claimed debates involve politicians "squabbling amongst themselves"

May under pressure after Corbyn agrees to take part in TV debate

Theresa May speaks during a General Election campaign visit to Cross Manufacturing in Odd Down, near Bath in Somerset. Picture by: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/PA Images

Theresa May has been accused of running scared over her refusal to take part in an election TV debate after Jeremy Corbyn's last-minute decision to take part in a live head-to-head showdown with other British party leaders.

Announcing he would attend the BBC event on Wednesday night, the Labour leader challenged the Conservative Prime Minister to join him - arguing her failure to do so would be "another sign" of weakness.

Mr Corbyn will appear alongside Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron, UKIP's Paul Nuttall, Green co-leader Caroline Lucas, Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood and the SNP's deputy leader Angus Robertson, who leads the party's MPs at Westminster.

The Tories are to be represented at the broadcast by the British Home Secretary Amber Rudd, after Mrs May made clear that she would not take part in a face-to-face clash with any other party leaders during the campaign.

Mrs May's decision to not attend was branded "extreme cowardice" by Green co-leader Caroline Lucas.

But the Conservative leader has defended her boycott saying she wanted to speak directly to voters and answer their questions rather than "squabbling" with other party leaders.

Mr Corbyn had also previously refused to take part in a leaders' debate unless Mrs May also took part.

"Another sign of Theresa May's weakness"

His decision to attend reflects a growing confidence in the Labour camp, buoyed by the latest YouGov poll that suggested the UK could be heading for a hung parliament on 9 June, with the Conservatives falling short of an overall majority.

Mr Corbyn said: "I will be taking part in tonight's debate because I believe we must give people the chance to hear and engage with the leaders of the main parties before they vote.

"I have never been afraid of a debate in my life. Labour's campaign has been about taking our polices to people across the country and listening to the concerns of voters.

"The Tories have been conducting a stage-managed arms-length campaign and have treated the public with contempt. Refusing to join me in Cambridge tonight would be another sign of Theresa May's weakness, not strength."

Challenging Mrs May to join him at the event, Mr Corbyn told supporters: "I invite her to go to Cambridge and debate her policies, debate their record, debate their plans, debate their proposals and let the public make up their mind."

"I've not been off the television screens"

Answering questions during a visit to a factory in Bath, Mrs May denied she was "frightened" of taking on her rivals face-to-face.

She said: "I've been very clear from the start that the sort of campaign I want to do is about meeting people and taking questions.

"I've not been off the television screens, I've been doing things on the television, but predominantly taking questions from voters and listening to voters.

"I think debates where the politicians are squabbling amongst themselves doesn't do anything for the process of electioneering.

"I think it's actually about getting out and about, meeting voters and hearing directly from voters."

Laughing, Mrs May said: "I'm interested in the fact that Jeremy Corbyn seems to be paying far more attention to how many appearances on telly he is doing. I think he ought to be paying a little more attention to thinking about Brexit negotiations.

"That's what I'm doing to make sure we get the best possible deal for Britain."