High Court to hear legal challenge against TV election debate

The Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party (SNP) are launching legal action against ITV for their leaders being excluded from election debates.

Their case will be heard in the High Court on Monday, ahead of a planned head-to-head between the Conservatives’ Boris Johnson and Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn on ITV on Tuesday.

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, claimed not including other party leaders was depriving voters of the chance to make their own decisions.

Ian Blackford will ask MPs to consider extending the vote
Image: Ian Blackford said the SNP was the third largest party

“This challenge is not just about the SNP, it’s about fairness for every voter and viewer across the country who have a right to see the real choice at this election on that debate stage,” he said.

“By excluding key parties from the debate, viewers are being deprived of the opportunity to make their own decisions, and voters in Scotland are not seeing their voting patterns reflected at all…

“Labour and the Tories have not been the leading parties in Scotland at an election for around a decade, while the SNP has grown to become the third party in UK wide politics.

“It is simply false to tell viewers in Scotland that that is their choice when we know Scotland has repeatedly rejected both in recent elections and the SNP could well hold the balance of power on 13 December.”

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Lib Dem President Sal Brinton also complained leader Jo Swinson was being excluded from the BBC’s TV debate.

She said the move was “clearly unlawful”, adding: “Voters of this country deserve to hear from a Remainer on the debate stage, not just from the two men who want to deliver Brexit.”

Image: Ms Swinson wants to be included in the debate with Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn

A YouGov poll last week found 53% of the public backed Ms Swinson being invited to the main televised debate between Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn, versus 26% who feel she should not.

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