Cowardly May faces humiliating TV no-show after ITV takes up Corbyn’s debate challenge
THE Commons voted overwhelmingly yesterday in favour of a snap general election hours after PM Theresa May repeatedly refused to answer why she would not defend her claims of Tory achievement in TV debates.
Of the 522 MPs who supported the motion, 325 were Conservatives and 174 Labour.
At Prime Minister’s Questions before the vote, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told Ms May that she could not be trusted after she made a U-turn on her numerous claims that she would not hold an early election.
This was later echoed by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who said: “Isn’t the truth that we cannot believe a single word the PM says?”
Mr Corbyn repeatedly challenged the Prime Minister to face him in live television debates which she brushed off — and now broadcaster ITV has pledged to “empty chair” her if she continues to refuse.
As a result Ms May has been accused of being “frit” — a word famously used by Margaret Thatcher meaning “frightened.”
The Prime Minister claimed that she would rather be campaigning out on the streets, adding: “Every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger.”
Mr Corbyn replied: “She says it’s about leadership, yet is refusing to defend her record in television debates and it’s not hard to see why.
“The Prime Minister says we have a stronger economy, yet she can’t explain why people’s wages are lower today than they were 10 years ago or why more households are in debt, six million people earning less than the minimum wage, child poverty is up, pensioner poverty is up.
“Why are so many people getting poorer?”
Ms May said that the Tories have reduced the deficit by nearly two-thirds, cut tax for 30 million people, taken four million people out of income tax liability, reduced unemployment and given more cash to pensioners.
Mr Corbyn shot back: “If she’s so proud of her record, why won’t she debate it?”
The Labour leader suggested that the Prime Minister is reluctant to take to the stand because her party’s crippling austerity policies have failed.
He also pointed to the Tories’ record of broken manifesto pledges since coming to power in 2010.
“Over the last seven years the Tories have broken every promise on living standards, the deficit, debt, the National Health Service and schools funding. Why should anyone believe a word they say over the next seven weeks?” he said.
Today, in his first speech of the campaign, Mr Corbyn is expected to say that in this election and in government he won’t “play by the rules of the [Tories’] game,” but stand up for the British people who “are the true wealth creators, held back by a system rigged for the wealth extractors.”
Private owners of Southern Rail, Topshop owner Sir Philip Green, Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley and owners of tax evading corporations would be scared of a Labour government, he will add.
Mr Corbyn is also expected to say: “Much of the media and Establishment are saying this election is a foregone conclusion … But of course those people don’t want us to win.”
The 13 MPs who voted against the election included nine from Labour.
These were Ronnie Campbell, Ann Clwyd, Paul Farrelly, Jim Fitzpatrick, Clive Lewis, Fiona Mactaggart, Liz McInnes, Dennis Skinner and Graham Stringer.
Former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg was the only member of his party to not vote.