BBC confirms general election TV debates – prompting legal action from Lib Dems

The BBC faces a legal showdown with the Lib Dems after confirming a string of TV debates for the general election – including a head-to-head clash between Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson .

Chiefs unveiled the schedule today after ITV and Sky News confirmed TV debates in the countdown to the December 12 poll.

The ITV debate on November 19 – between just Mr Corbyn and Mr Johnson – had enraged Lib Dems whose leader Jo Swinson accused the network of sexism.

Now the BBC has also opted for a two-way debate between the PM and Leader of the Opposition.

It will be held on Friday 6 December and come live from Southampton.

As well as that event, there will be a seven-way podium debate between leaders of the seven biggest parties on Friday 29 November.

But that was not enough for Lib Dem spokesman and former Labour MP Chuka Umunna.

The party, which had 20 MPs including eight defectors, had already instructed lawyers against ITV.

And today Mr Umunna tweeted: "We will now be initiating legal proceedings against the BBC too.

"This is WRONG. The Tory and Labour leaders do not want to stop Brexit – a large proportion of the British people do. The exclusion of the other main UK party leader – the Lib Dems' Jo Swinson – who does want to stop Brexit is undemocratic and breaches the OfCom code.

"We cannot allow our democracy and different political views to be thwarted in this way."

BBC presenter Nick Robinson, who will host both main debates, said: “I hope and believe The BBC Prime Ministerial Debate and The BBC Election Debate will illuminate the choice we all face between competing parties, leaders, policies and visions for the country.

"They are just one of many ways the BBC aims to do that. I hope they’ll reach people who don’t normally switch on for politics on TV.

"I covered my first election in 1987 and it’s an absolute thrill to have played a part over the years as a researcher, producer, political editor and now as debate host.”

When are the general election TV debates?

Tuesday 19 November: ITV airs head-to-head debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, hosted by Julie Etchingham from Greater Manchester.

Friday 22 November: BBC One airs Question Time leaders' special from Sheffield, hosted by Fiona Bruce. Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon and Jo Swinson will take questions from the audience for 30 minutes each but not debate each other directly.

Thursday 28 November: Sky News airs three-way debate between Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson.

Friday 29 November: BBC One airs seven-way election debate hosted by Nick Robinson from Cardiff. Labour, the Tories, Lib Dems, SNP, Greens, Plaid and Brexit Party are set to take part.

Friday 6 December: BBC One airs Prime Ministerial Debate between Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson, hosted by Nick Robinson in Southampton.

Monday 9 December: BBC One airs a 90-minute Question Time for under-30s at 8.30pm, hosted by Emma Barnett, with "leading figures from each of the main parties".

Friday 13 December: Question Time special broadcast on BBC One at 8.30pm.

Other debates will also take part on BBC Wales, BBC Scotland and BBC Northern Ireland. Times are mostly not confirmed but are expected to be in the evening.

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