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26th Nov 2018

Jeremy Corbyn has accepted Theresa May’s challenge of a TV debate on Brexit

James Dawson

The Conservative and Labour leaders are set to go head-to-head

Jeremy Corbyn has accepted Theresa May’s challenge of a live TV debate over the prime minister’s Brexit deal as she attempts to sell it to the public and parliament.

A crunch vote on the deal is likely to happen around the 12 December with May embarking on a tour of the country in the coming days after the proposed terms of withdrawal were accepted by leaders across the continent over the weekend.

It was reported on Sunday night that May wants a head-to-head televised debate with Corbyn to be the showpiece of her campaign to get the deal passed through parliament.

Now a spokesperson for the Labour leader has accepted the challenge, saying: “Jeremy would relish a head-to-head debate with Theresa May about her botched Brexit deal and the future of the country.”

If agreed the debate would likely take place on Sunday 9 December.

The push for a public debate comes despite the prime minister refusing to take part in televised debates prior to the 2017 general election, instead sending then home secretary Amber Rudd in her place.

Speaking before the general election, May said: “I don’t think people get much out of seeing politicians having a go at each other” adding that Corbyn “ought to be paying a little more attention to thinking about Brexit negotiations.”

However, with Labour, Lib Dem, SNP and DUP politicians poised to vote against the deal and over 90 Tory MPs having publicly spoken out against it, the prime minister needs to convince parliamentarians to back her Brexit plan.

On Friday, May said there was no alternative to the deal, adding that voting down her proposals in parliament would create “more division and uncertainty” across the country.

She added: “My job is to persuade people. I believe this is the right deal for the UK. My job is to persuade people in parliament of that view.

“And I think the job of an MP is actually, when they come to look at voting for this deal, to say to themselves, ‘Does it deliver on what people voted for?’ – I believe it does – and secondly, ‘What do we need to focus on for our constituents, for people up and down the country?’”

Following EU leaders agreeing to the terms of the UK’s withdrawal on Sunday, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker warned that no other offer would be available if MPs vote the agreement down when it comes before parliament.