‘A Remainer Debating a Remainer’: May and Corbyn Agree Brexit TV Clash

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Niklas Halle'n/WPA Pool/Getty

Britain’s prime minister and the leader of the opposition, both of whom opposed Brexit in the 2016 referendum, have agreed to a live TV debate on the exit arrangements for leaving the European Union (EU).

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn will clash on Sunday, December 9th, at around 8 pm. It will be filmed in Birmingham and feature a live panel and questions from social media, the BBC said.

Mrs May has accepted the invitation from the BBC. Hard-left leader Mr Corbyn says he has also accepted the offer but would prefer for it to take place on rival station ITV instead.

The Leave Means Leave campaign, backed by Nigel Farage and pro-Brexit MPs from all parties, called the debate “A Remainer debating a Remainer on Brexit.”

Some media commentors in the UK responded to the news by pointing out that, as it is not a general election debate with main parties fighting for power, there is no obvious reason why only the party leaders should take part.

Columnist Hugo Rifkin commented: “Weirdly, the idea of a May/Corbyn Brexit debate is a hark back to the pre-Brexit days where you’d have two party leaders who basically agreed with each other, cynically pretending they didn’t.”

The day before the debate was agreed, UKIP leader Gerard Batten MEP said that there was a case for him to be involved too. He wrote:

“Some say I should not be part of this debate because UKIP has no MPs. They forget, UKIP MEPs will vote on the ‘deal’ in the Euro Parl, & it can reject it, because UK Parliamentarians long ago gave us supremacy over our Parl. I could point out such things.”

UKIP said this week: “It is essential that UKIP is a part of this. UKIP is the Party of Brexit and the only one which supports a total unencumbered ‘no deal’ Brexit.

“Refusing [Gerard Batten’s] participation would expose these debates to be an establishment ploy.”

The Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, meanwhile, demanded even more representation for anti-Brexit voices, commenting Thursday after the debate was announced:

“If this or any Brexit TV debate goes ahead without all options – including that of remaining in the EU – being included and given a voice, it will be an absolute travesty of democracy.”

The BBC said in a statement: “Like everyone else, we’ve just heard the Prime Minister has accepted the BBC’s offer to take part in a debate on the Brexit deal on Sunday 9 December. We’re delighted she’s agreed and hope to hear soon from the Labour party.”

Adding: “We have been discussing debate formats with both parties and will announce further details soon.”

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