Lib Dems launch LEGAL ACTION against ITV after being snubbed from election 2019 debate

The Lib Dems have announced that they are taking broadcaster ITV to court over their decision to exclude her from TV debates. Writing on Twitter, the Liberal Democrats said: “We are taking legal action against ITV for their outrageous decision to exclude Jo Swinson, the strongest voice for millions of Remainers across the country, from their TV debates.” Both Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Prime Minister Boris Johnson were invited to take part in a live debate on ITV. The Lib Dems have demanded a response by Thursday afternoon.

In a letter posted on Twitter, the Liberal Democrats said there were “three main UK-wide national parties taking part in the coming election”.

They wrote: “The exclusion of the leader of one of them from ITV’s ‘leaders’ debate’ is clearly unlawful for the reasons set out below.

“It also means that viewers will be denied the opportunity to hear the fresh and distinct perspective that the Liberal Democrats bring on the dominant issue of this election, namely Brexit.”

The Lib Dems set out six key reasons why they claim Jo Swinson should have been invited to take part in the leaders’ debate on ITV.

Lib Dems

Lib Dems launch legal action against ITV (Image: NC)

The party point out the “Liberal Democrats will be fighting the election as the only national party with a distinctive and clear Remain position”.

The claim, following a meeting from executives, that the “Liberal Democrats have a realistic prospect of being in Government following the general election. It is recognised in the Code that this is a material factor specifically in relation to participation in UK leadership debates”.

The party note elections since the 2017 general election, claiming “there is no rational basis for drawing any distinction between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative and Labour parties”.

The letter reads “polling evidence shows the consistent high level of support for the Liberal Democrats”.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn were invited to the ITV debate (Image: GETTY)

Next, the Lib Dems claim they have been “consistently polling close to Labour in recent opinion polls” which they argue makes their “exclusion from the leaders’ debate even harder to justify”.

Their final point is that “public opinion appears to support the inclusion of Jo Swinson in the leaders’ debate” as they reference a recent YouGov poll.

The Lib Dems finish by explaining Ms Swinson has been invited to take part in a TV election debate hosted by Sky.

The letter reads: “In light of all of the above you are now required to confirm, by 5pm on Thursday 7 November, that Jo Swinson will be invited to take part in any ‘leaders’ debate’ to be broadcast by ITV during the current general election campaign.”

Jo Swinson

Jo Swinson responding to the announcement of the Sky debate (Image: TWITTER)

On Monday, the Liberal Democrat leader said they were taking advice “on all of the possible avenues” after meetings with ITV.

She said: “We are very clear. We think the OFCOM code gives good grounds for saying there should be the Liberal Democrat leader, myself, being represented in that debate against Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn about who will be the next Prime Minister of our country.”

She added: “We are polling just a small amount behind Labour in the polls at the moment.

“We beat both Labour and the Conservatives in the national elections for the European Parliament in May of this year.

Seats in previous elections

General Election chart: Seats in previous elections (Image: NC)

“We are the largest, strongest party of Remain and we are a party standing right across Great Britain who can form that next Government.”

She continued: “In 2010, when our poll ratings were very similar to the ones we have now, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg were the leaders in those debates.

“Nine years on, when we are on similar poll ratings, I should be in those debates with Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn

The Labour Party leader was also invited to the ITV debate (Image: GETTY)

“Frankly, if they are refusing to debate me. It looks like they are sexist, they are scared or possibly both.”

On Monday, Ms Swinson confirmed that she would be taking part in a live TV debate hosted by Sky between her and the Labour and Tory leaders.

Responding to a Sky announcement about the debate on Twitter, Ms Swinson said: “I'm in. Will you show up @BorisJohnson & @jeremycorbyn?”

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