Theresa May has made clear that she will not take part in television debates to defend her record as prime minister or decisions over Brexit.
May, who this week made a U-turn to call a snap election despite saying for months that a fresh election would be a distraction and cause instability, is not prepared to take on her political opponents in front of the TV cameras. For a prime minister who keeps telling us how she will be a tough negotiator that will get a great Brexit deal from the European Union, she now appears to weak to take on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who trails her by 20 points in the polls.
In the two years since the last election, the Conservative government has overseen a deepening crisis in the NHS, including strikes from doctors and threatened strikes from nurses, a crisis in social care, a worsening housing crisis propped up by short-term policies, industrial action on the trains, disappointing wage growth, poor productivity, and illegal levels of pollution. It is little surprise May does not want to defend this on national television.
A debate would also see May challenged over her handling of Brexit, where she has steadfastly refused to share even the slightest shadow of her plans with the country or parliament until she was forced to by the courts. To maintain control of her backbenchers, she has decided that Britain should head for the hardest Brexit possible, without inclusion in the single market or customs union. She has not been held to account for taking this path that no-one voted for due to the toxic nature of the debate her party created around Brexit. Anyone who has questioned May’s Brexit plans is labelled as an “enemy of the people” by her media attack dogs, but on stage and in front of the cameras she will actually have to answer the tough questions she seems so intent to avoid since she became prime minister.