Brexit TV debate: ERS calls for Debates Commission amid rows over format

Posted on the 4th December 2018

Society says debates must include range of parties to reflect UK’s political diversity, amid ongoing spat

  • For immediate release, Tuesday 4th December 2018. Statement from the Electoral Reform Society

Crucial decisions over how televised debates are conducted must be taken out of the hands of politicians, according to the Electoral Reform Society (ERS).

A proposed Brexit debate is due to take place on Sunday, but Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn continue to argue over its format.

The ERS believe clear guidelines should be set out by a Debates Commission to ensure debates aren’t held to ransom by partisan interests.

The Society has also called for all future debates to feature a wider range of parties to reflect the politically diverse Britain of today.

Willie Sullivan, Senior Director ERS Scotland and Campaigns, said:

“It shouldn’t be for politicians to decide how they are scrutinised in TV debates. These broadcasts are now a core part of elections: they are part of the democratic framework of the UK. So let’s get some clear rules in place.

“A Debates Commission – with representation from voters – could ensure democracy in the 21st century is on the public’s terms – not politicians.”

“Whatever your take on Brexit, it’s clear that neither Theresa May nor Jeremy Corbyn can represent the entire spectrum of views on Brexit.

“We already have polarised head-to-heads in PMQs, so let’s have a variety of voices presented to viewers.

“If there is to be a TV debate on Brexit – which could potentially attract millions of viewers – the driving-force behind all decisions must be to enhance democracy.”

A Sky News campaign for full general election debates between party leaders has attracted more than 100,000 signatories to its parliamentary petition. 

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