The four broadcasters behind plans for televised General Election debates are today publishing new proposals to expand the debates.
The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky said the fresh initiative follows talks spanning three months with the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP, and has taken into account representations from other political parties, polling and broad public opinion.
The broadcasters are now offering: One debate between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
Two debates involving the leaders of the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the SNP, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru.
The debates would take place during the General Election campaign – with proposed dates of April 2, 16 and 30.
The party leaders have been formally invited to take part in these debates. If any decide not to participate the debates would take place with those who accepted the invitation.
One of the seven-party debates would be hosted by the BBC, the other hosted by ITV. The two-party debate would be hosted jointly by Channel 4 and Sky.
In a statement the broadcasters said:
“BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 remain committed to holding election debates in the General Election campaign. Following meetings with the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP representatives, it has not been possible to come to an agreement on the original proposal put forward by the broadcasters in October 2014.
“Since October the broadcasters have together and individually had a number of meetings and conversations with the parties invited to take part, the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP, and also discussions and correspondence with the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party. All these discussions have been constructive and useful in informing our thinking about the debates.
“Over the three months since the original proposal was put forward, the broadcasters have also continued to monitor the electoral landscape, as we promised to do, taking into account the polling evidence, and the expressions of public support for the debates to go ahead and for a wider range of parties to be included in the debates.
“In view of these factors, the broadcasters are now inviting party leaders to take part in the following debates within the official election campaign and approximately two weeks apart.
“Two debates between the leaders of the following parties: Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, UKIP, Green, SNP and Plaid Cymru. One of these debates to be produced by ITV, and one by the BBC.
“One debate between the leaders of the Conservative party and the Labour party produced by Sky and Channel 4.
“The proposed dates for the debates are 2, 16 and 30 April. The order of the debates is to be discussed with the parties.
“The party leaders will be formally invited to take part in these debates. In the event that any of the invited party leaders decline to participate, debates will take place with the party leaders who accept the invitation.”
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