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  1. ITV Report

Straight right, left hook: Boxing fan Boris Johnson prepares to go toe-to-toe with Jeremy Corbyn on ITV debate

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt

Boris Johnson has pulled on his boxing gloves as he prepares to go toe-to-toe with Jeremy Corbyn in the first live TV election debate, to be staged on ITV.

The Prime Minister will be hoping his straight rights practised in the ring provide the counter-punch to any left hooks thrown by the Labour leader.

He revealed he "loves" the noble art as he threw some leather with the head coach of Jimmy Egan’s Boxing Academy in Wythenshawe, Manchester.

Wearing a pair of branded "Get Brexit Done" blue gloves, Mr Johnson said: "I don't want to be aggressive here - this is boxing as therapy, more therapeutic boxing."

Mr Johnson also said he was "excited" rather than nervous about the debate, which he called a "great chance to explain why we need to have this election".

"We need to have an election basically because Parliament is blocking Brexit, we need to get Brexit done so we can take forward our agenda for the whole country."

Mr Johnson, who removed his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeves for the occasion, joked about punching photographers on the side.

Mr Johnson left the ring as two more serious boxers entered, saying he would “quit while he’s ahead”.

  • ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand says Jeremy Corbyn enters the debate as an underdog

He will be hoping to have sharpened his reflexes to dodge any political haymakers thrown by Mr Corbyn in the debating ring later on Tuesday.

The debate will be moderated by ITV News' Julie Etchingham and is the first of this general election.

A special programme will follow featuring leaders of the other main parties contesting the poll.

Ahead of the programme, Mr Johnson wrote to his rival with a series of questions he claims the Labour leader has "ducked" during the campaign.

He said the electorate should know:

  • You are proposing a second referendum on EU membership. In that referendum, would you recommend the UK should remain or leave?
  • Would you end, maintain or extend free movement, and would immigration be higher or lower under Corbyn's Labour?
  • How much would you be willing to pay into the EU budget in return for "access to markets"?
  • Can you guarantee that every Labour candidate supports your Brexit policy?

Jeremy Corbyn was not out and about on Tuesday, but posted an image on Instagram of him getting "a quick trim" before the debate.

Johnson v Corbyn: The ITV Debate will be broadcast at 8pm on Tuesday, November 19, with the ITV Election Interviews broadcast at 10pm.

Both programmes as well as post-debate reaction will be streamed live on the ITV News website.