Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have been blasted for failing to attend a primetime election leaders’ debate on ITV, Thursday night.
The two main candidates came under fire for ducking out of the debate – branded a snore-fest featuring “second-rate” party leaders – and missing a chance to stand up for their policies.
The two-hour debate saw leaders from the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the Scottish National Party (SNP).
UKIP leader Paul Nuttall berated both May and Corbyn for not “bothering to turn up,” while Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood accused May of being “too scared to come here tonight for your U-turns to be highlighted, for your cruel policies to be exposed.”
Wood also mocked the Conservative manifesto, and said it was a “weak and unstable leadership” not to appear, in jest at the Tory PM’s unofficial mantra of “strong and stable leadership.”
“I hope all of us here tonight will show you that real leadership means being willing to defend what you stand for, not hide from it,” she said.
May said she would not be participating in any televised debate in the run-up to election on June 8 because she would rather spend that time touring the country to win support for the Conservative Party, which is currently leading ahead of Labour by 15 points in an IPSOS Mori poll published on Thursday.
Corbyn snapped back saying he would not be attending any debate if the PM was a no-show.
Prior to the debate, however, Corybn tweeted: “Theresa May, why not debate me?” he said.
“The public deserves to see a debate between the only two people who could form the next government.”
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron also hit out at the PM for her absence.
“The fact that Theresa May isn’t here tells you she is taking you for granted, she thinks she owns this result,” he said.
“She thinks she owns our country, owns our future and owns our children’s future,” he said.
However, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, whose relationship with the PM has become more and more embittered of late, as they clashed over the proposal for a second Scottish independence referendum, said May “did not have the guts to be here tonight, but her spokesman in the form of [UKIP leader] Paul Nuttall is here in her place.”
Meanwhile, Nuttall became the subject of widespread mockery on social media after wrongly calling Leanne Wood “Natalie” twice in 20 minutes.
Nuttall may have confused her with former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, who resigned last year. Or perhaps with the late movie star Natalie Wood.
As the parties that did participate in the debate only made up for a mere 69 of the 650 MPs in the last parliament, social media users vented their frustration at the “dull” spectacle online.
— eppletonian (@eppletonian) May 18, 2017