London [UK], Apr 18 : British Prime Minister Theresa May has excused herself from taking part in TV debates during the general election campaign.
"Our answer is no," the Guardian quoted a No 10 source as saying when asked about whether the Prime Minister would join any TV debates before the June 8 snap election.
A Conservative party spokesman said that there was no need for the public to see May face-off against Jeremy Corbyn.
"The choice at this election is already clear: strong and stable leadership in the national interest with Theresa May and the Conservatives, or weak and unstable coalition government led by Jeremy Corbyn," the spokesman said.
TV debates involving the three main party leaders took place on the BBC, Sky News and ITV before the 2010 general election.
In 2015, after protracted negotiations, David Cameron agreed to take part in only one live TV debate, which included six other leaders - those of Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Ukip, Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru.
In response to May's refusal, Corbyn tweeted: "If this general election is about leadership, as Theresa May said this morning, she should not be dodging head-to-head TV debates." Tim Farron, the Lib Dem leader, said that voters would expect to see TV debates and suggested broadcasters should go ahead without May.
"The Prime Minister's attempt to dodge scrutiny shows how she holds the public in contempt," Farron said.
"I expect the broadcasters to do the right thing, don't let the Conservatives call the shots. If the Prime Minister won't attend, empty chair her. Corbyn can defend her position as they seem to vote the same on these matters. You have a moral duty to hold these debates." May also faced backlash from Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who tweeted, "If PM doesnt have the confidence to debate her plans on TV with other leaders, broadcasters should empty chair her and go ahead anyway." Earlier today, in a surprise move, May called for a general election in the United Kingdom on June 8 to seek a stronger mandate in talks over leaving the European Union.
An election had not been due until 2020 and the Downing Street has repeatedly denied any suggestion that May might attempt to call an early poll.
May said that she had reversed her position on an early vote to ensure stability during the Brexit negotiations.
May will have to secure a two-third majority in a vote to be held in the House of Commons tomorrow for the election to go ahead.