British PM under pressure to join election TV debates

AFP , Wednesday 14 Jan 2015

File Photo: Prime Minister David Cameron gestures outside 10 Downing Street in London May 10, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

With campaigning already under way for May's general election, British Prime Minister David Cameron faced pressure Wednesday to join TV debates with other party leaders despite indicating he will not take part.

Cameron, who has led a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats since 2010, is hoping to win a clear majority this time round but most polls put his Conservatives neck-and-neck with the main opposition Labour party.

He has so far resisted calls to take part in TV debates, arguing that they should include the Green Party alongside the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) which Conservatives fear could take votes from them.

Labour leader Ed Miliband, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage of UKIP have sent letters to Cameron saying it would be "unacceptable" for him not to participate.

They have also urged broadcasters to leave an "empty chair" Cameron if he does not join in.

"I believe it would be a major setback to our democratic processes if these debates were not repeated in 2015 because of one politician's unwillingness to participate," the letters said.

At the last general election in 2010, the first time Britain held TV debates, Cameron was eclipsed by Clegg, taking many by surprise.

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