- Tyne Tees
- 28 updates
Theresa May will refuse to take part in televised leaders' debates in the run-up to the June 8 general election, Number 10 sources have indicated.
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."
But 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."
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron accused Mrs May of "bottling" the debates and urged broadcasters to "empty chair" her if she refused to take part.
A snap General Election would provide a "great opportunity" for Britain to "change the direction" of the country.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said a potential election represents a chance for the UK to alter which path it takes during Brexit negotiations.
Speaking to ITV News, he said: "It's a great opportunity for the British people to choose to change the direction of our country.
"To oppose a hard Brexit, to keep us in the single market and to make sure that we actually have a strong and decent opposition - which only the Liberal Democrats now offer."
He added that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn had "effectively decided" not to be an alternative government.
Theresa May's director of communications has surprisingly announced she will resign her position amid the PM's call for an early election.
Katie Perrior, who was appointed to the role as Mrs May took power last July, leaves a team that includes May's influential former special advisers Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy.
Ms Perrior was a surprise appointment as the former iNHouse Communications boss had no background in journalism.
Theresa May rang the Queen on Monday to formally confirm her plans to seek an early election on June 8.
The prime minister's spokesperson revealed the call was made as he confirmed the PM's bid for an early vote had received the full backing of the Cabinet.
He also said the timetable for Brexit negotiations would be unaffected by the June 8 vote.
Theresa May is looking to create an "elective dictatorship" in Westminster by pursuing an early election, Labour MP Stephen Kinnock has told ITV News.
The PM said she wants to go to the polls because of disunity in Parliament as she announced her plans for a June 8 election.
Mr Kinnock said her call for "unity in Westminster" was a "chilling phrase".
"She wants to steamroller through her vision of the United Kingdom, which we know (from) the 'Brextremists' around her is about turning the UK into a European version of the Cayman Islands," he said.
"There needs to be a strong Labour opposition in Parliament to make sure that doesn't happen."
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the calling of a snap General Election is a chance for the Conservatives to "force through a hard Brexit".
Ms Sturgeon tweeted that the move would see the Tories "move the UK to the right" - adding "let's stand up for Scotland".
"This announcement is one of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history, and it shows that Theresa May is once again putting the interests of her party ahead of those of the country," Mrs Sturgeon said.
"She is clearly betting that the Tories can win a bigger majority in England given the utter disarray in the Labour Party."
Jeremy Corbyn has said he "welcomes" Theresa May's decision to call a snap General Election on June 8.
The Labour leader said: "I welcome the Prime Minister's decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first."
In his statement, he added: "Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to our schools and NHS."
Latest ITV News reports
Here is the full transcript of Robert Peston's exclusive interview with the prime minister after she called for an early General Election.
Theresa May has told ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston she is not "playing political games" after a walking holiday election U-turn.