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Labour leader challenges under-pressure UK PM to TV debate

Britain’s main opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn (C) reacts as he poses for a “selfie” photograph after addressing supporters during a general election campaign rally in Reading, west of London, on May 31, 2017, as campaigning continues in the build up to the general election on June 8. The opposition Labour party, led by veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn, has gradually nibbled away at the Conservative lead in the polls, with the campaign back in full swing after the Manchester terror attack. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL

British Prime Minister Theresa May came under pressure to join a live television election debate Tuesday after opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn announced a last-minute decision to attend.

May had ruled out any head-to-head debate with other party leaders ahead of the June 8 vote, and is due to send her interior minister to the seven-way hustings on the BBC on Tuesday evening.

In response, Labour leader Corbyn had said he too would not attend — only to announce just hours before the event that he would take part after all.

“It’s very odd that we have an election campaign where we go out and talk to people all the time and the prime minister seems to have difficulties in meeting anyone or having a debate,” Corbyn told a rally in Reading, west of London.

“There is a debate in Cambridge tonight. I don’t know what she is doing this evening, but it’s not far from London.

“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.”

Labour is gaining ground on May’s Conservatives in opinion polls, and Corbyn’s team has been buoyed by a better-than-expected performance in a TV grilling on Monday night.

The leaders of the Liberal Democrats, the UK Independence Party, the Greens and Welsh nationalist Plaid Cymru, and the deputy leader of the Scottish National Party, are also taking part in the debate in Cambridge, eastern England.




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