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Johnson and Corbyn to face final head-to-head debate tonight before UK general election

The party leaders will face each other in Maidstone in the BBC’s prime ministerial debate at 8.30pm.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Image: PA Images

TONIGHT, BRITISH PRIME Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will go head-to-head in their final live television debate before next week’s UK general election. 

Chaired by Nick Robinson, Johnson and Corbyn will face each other in Maidstone in the BBC’s prime ministerial debate at 8.30pm. 

A BBC spokesperson has said supporters of the Conservatives and Labour will be roughly equal in the audience, followed by a smaller number roughly for the SNP and the Liberal Democrats, and a handful for the smaller parties.

She said questions will come from members of the audience recruited by market research consultancy Savanta ComRes, and from members of the public who have submitted questions via the BBC website.

The spokesperson said questions will be chosen by the editorial team producing the programme, with the aim of reflecting the issues which matter to the public and which feature prominently during the election campaign.

Johnson and Corbyn went head-to-head in their first debate for the election on 19 November, after the Lib Dems and SNP lost a legal challenge to take part. 

According to a YouGov poll that asked responders “Leaving aside your own party preference, who do you think performed best overall in [the] debate”, 51% answered Boris Johnson, and 49% answered Jeremy Corbyn.

  • The standout moments from that debate can be read here.

Since then, a Channel 4 debate on 29 November led to a row between the Conservative Party and the television station, as the Tories accused the broadcaster of “conspiring” with Jeremy Corbyn to block them from a TV leaders’ debate.

The party made a formal complaint to Ofcom’s election committee as an ice sculpture was used in Boris Johnson’s place in the Channel 4 News debate on climate change.

Johnson had been accused of “running scared” when he did not join the other party leaders, with Michael Gove instead turning up and asking if he could stand in for him, before being turned away because he is not a party leader.

This fiasco came as Tory sources were reported as saying that if the party wins the coming election on 12 December, it will reassess Channel 4′s public service broadcasting licence. 

Meanwhile, Johnson has repeatedly refused to commit to an interview with the BBC’s veteran journalist Andrew Neil, despite the fact that other party leaders have done so. 

Last week, the BBC had reportedly told Johnson that he would not be allowed to go on the Andrew Marr show unless he faced Neil too. 

Johnson offered to appear on Marr’s programme, but the broadcaster turned him down because he would not submit himself to examination by Neil, The Daily Telegraph reported.

However, in the wake of the London Bridge attack last Friday, the BBC on Saturday confirmed that Johnson would, in fact, be interviewed on Marr’s show. He appeared on the show on Sunday.

Following tonight’s debate, the BBC will air a 90-minute Question Time for younger audiences featuring leading figures from each of the main parties on 9 December. 

Includes reporting by Press Association

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