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Tory leadership candidates to compete in head-to-head BBC debate

The final two candidates will also be invited to take part in a special edition of Question Time

Tory leadership candidates will be quizzed about their views on Brexit and other burning issues as part of various TV debates to give the wider public the chance to be involved in the process.

Both the BBC and Sky have pledged to hold live debates at separate stages of the contest as hopeful line up to replace Theresa May.

The BBC announced plans for a debate to take place in mid-June which will be moderated by the journalist Emily Maitlis.

The final two candidates will also be invited to take part in a special edition of Question Time where they will be asked questions by an audience.

Candidates’ surprise

But the decision to announce the plans sparked a row after the camp of at least one of the main leadership contenders said they had not been approached by the BBC before making the announcement.

The source suggested the BBC was attempting to “bounce” candidates into taking part in the debates.

The BBC said the debates would not take place until after the first two rounds of the leadership contest, so it was not clear who would be taking part until later into the contest.

Fran Unsworth, Director BBC News and Current Affairs, says: “The decision being made by Conservative Party members will profoundly affect us all, so it feels right that BBC audiences get a chance to see the candidates’ debate with each other, and that we scrutinise the various policy proposals they will be standing on”.

“Our plans include bringing the final two candidates in front of the same Question Time audience on the same night to be quizzed by the public, as although the final say will fall to Conservative party members, it’s firmly in the public interest for audiences to question and hear from the next potential Prime Minister.”

The BBC has also invited the final two candidates to take part in one-on-one interviews with Andrew Neil.

Leadership election

On Friday, Prime Minister Theresa May announced she would be standing down as Tory leader on 7 June.

Under the timetable set out by Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis and the 1922 vice-chairmen, nominations for leader will close in the week beginning 10 June.

The party hopes to have elected a new leader by the start of Parliament’s summer recess.

Head-to-head final debates

Sky News will host a live head-to-head debate as part of the Conservative leadership election.

The two final candidates will take part in a live debate with a studio audience made up of Conservative voters presented by journalist Kay Burley.

John Ryley, head of Sky News said: “We’ve consistently pushed the agenda for leaders’ debates for over a decade, this will be another key milestone in the unprecedented political turmoil we’ve been able to witness.”

Health Secretary and leadership hopeful Matt Hancock had called on TV broadcasters earlier this week to hold live debates.

Speaking after the announcement he said: “I’m delighted that broadcasters have agreed to hold TV debates – this is a contest that affects the whole country, so we should engage the whole country in this process.”

Article source: TVB Europe, by Richard Vaughan

Brexit, Conservative Party, Politics