WALES POLITICS: Leanne Wood Says Theresa May Should Be ‘Empty Chaired’ If She Refuses General Election TV Debates
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has said Theresa May should be “empty chaired” if she refuses to take part in General Election TV debates.
The Rhondda AM said Mrs May was “running scared” and argued televised debates are key part of most democratic elections around the world.
A Downing Street source indicated that the Prime Minister would flatly reject any proposal for a TV showdown, telling the Press Association: “Our answer is No.”
Ms Wood came to UK-wide attention during a 2015 debate in which she clashed with Ukip’s Nigel Farage. She argues the debates should do ahead with or without the Prime Minister.
Corbyn says PM should not dodge debate
UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn threw down the gauntlet to the Prime Minister with a direct challenge on Twitter saying: “If this General Election is about leadership, as Theresa May said this morning, she should not be dodging head-to-head TV debates.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also took to Twitter, saying: “If [the PM doesn’t] have the confidence to debate her plans on TV with other leaders, broadcasters should empty chair her and go ahead anyway.”
Ms Wood said: “Theresa May should be empty chaired if she doesn’t show up to any planned TV debates. I am happy to debate with her anytime, anywhere, but it looks like she is running scared of scrutiny.
“Plaid Cymru is ready to contest this election to stop Wales being a forgotten nation, and to put the Welsh national interest on the map. We relish the prospect of TV debates in which we can prove that there is more to the UK than what goes on in the Westminster bubble.
“It is essential that the debates go ahead with or without the UK Prime Minister, and that all nations in the UK are represented. TV debates are no substitute for speaking to people in their communities, but they are a feature of most democratic elections.
“The electorate will not forgive a Tory party which shies away from debate.”
Tim Farron says PM holds ‘public in contempt’
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron accused Mrs May of “bottling” the debates and also urged broadcasters to “empty chair” her if she refused to take part.
He said: “The Prime Minister’s attempt to dodge scrutiny shows how she holds the public in contempt. The British people deserve to see their potential leaders talking about the future of our country.”
Broadcasters have a “moral duty” to stage debates, he argued, adding: “I expect the broadcasters to do the right thing, don’t let the Conservatives call the shots. If the Prime Minister won’t attend – empty chair her.”
Ms Wood declined to rule out standing against Labour’s Chris Bryant for the Rhondda constituency at Westminster when asked by ITV . However, legislation has been introduced to stop people holding seats in both legislatures.
A spokeswoman said: “[All] she has said is that she is not going to rule it out at this stage or rule it in.”
– wales online