`Empty chair' threat to Brown by Sky TV

CONSERVATIVE lead David Cameron and the Liberal Democrats' Nick Clegg have accepted an invitation to take part in a televised leaders' debate during campaigning for the next general election.

Graham Dines

CONSERVATIVE lead David Cameron and the Liberal Democrats' Nick Clegg have accepted an invitation to take part in a televised leaders' debate during campaigning for the next general election.

Sky News will host the live debate, warning that it will “empty chair” any leader who declines to take part.

With the Tory and Lib Dem leaders welcoming a TV debate, Sky News is openly challenging Prime Minister Gordon Brown to put up or shut up.


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TV debates are a regular feature of United States presidential elections, but have never happened in British general elections, largely because of the nervousness of prime ministers to allow opposition parties to take pot shots.

In a letter to the three party leaders, the head of Sky News John Ryley said: “With politics - and dare I say, many politicians - currently held in such low regard, to debate publicly the major issues facing Britain away from Westminster, presents a unique opportunity to re-engage a disillusioned electorate.”

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The UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farrage has not been invited, despite his party's second place in June's European Parliament elections in Britain.

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