Jeremy Corbyn to make surprise appearance at the BBC leaders debate

source
Carl Court / Getty
    Jeremy Corbyn confirms he will join other party leaders in a BBC televised leaders debate tonight. The Prime Minister is now the only party leader not due to take part. Corbyn challenges Theresa May to join him.

LONDON – Jeremy Corbyn is to make a surprise last-minute appearance at tonight’s BBC election debate in Cambridge, he has confirmed.

The Labour leader had previously refused to take part in any televised leaders’ debate that did not include the prime minister.

A spokesperson for Corbyn told Business Insider last month that doing so would not “meet the objectives” of such debates.

However, the Labour leader appears to have changed his mind following a well-received performance in this week’s Channel Four / Sky News debate.

“There is a debate in Cambridge tonight,” Corbyn told a public meeting in Reading this afternoon.

“I don’t know what she’s doing this evening but it’s not far from London. I invite her to go to Cambridge to debate her policies, debate her plans… and let the public make up their mind.”

In a statement, he added: “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.”

Watch Corbyn to May: Debate me tonight.

“I don’t know whatshe’s doing this evening… I invite her to debate”:@jeremycorbyninvites @theresa_mayto TV debate pic.twitter.com/3Kfk2f6dmw

@jeremycorbyn@theresa_maypic.twitter.com/3Kfk2f6dmwMay 31,2017

Corbyn’s decision means May will now be the only major party leader not to take part in the debate, having confirmed that the home secretary Amber Rudd will appear in her place.

The prime minister has refused to take part in any televised debate during this election, previously insisting that she is debating people “up and down the country” instead.