Theresa May labelled 'scared' by fellow leaders for skipping TV debate

Making a play on the Tory's "strong and stable" election mantra, she accused the Prime Minister of "weak and unstable" leadership.

As the debate got under way, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: "Theresa May, why not debate me?"

Live-blogging the debate for The Guardian, Andrew Sparrow concluded it was "all a bit dull", but warned the absence of May and Corbyn could impact negatively on their parties - if voters noticed.

May called the surprise election citing the need to strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations, which she said was being undermined by the opposition.

Oh dear. With both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn opting to give tonight's ITV leaders' debate a miss, leaders of the other political parties had the ideal opportunity to step into the spotlight and make a good impression in front of the electorate.

The ITV debate took place in Salford.

Instead the debate, which will be televised tonight on ITV, will see Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron appear alongside SNP's Nicola Sturgeon, Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood, Ukip's Paul Nuttall and Green co-leader Caroline Lucas.

The attack on May's decision not to attend started nearly immediately with Ms Wood using her opening statement to criticise the Prime Minister.

She stormed: "You may be too scared to come here for your u-turns to be highlighted, for your cruel policies to be exposed".

"Do you not think the British people deserve to see me and you debate live and on television?"

"That's weak leadership - weak and unstable".

Ms Sturgeon said people should unite against the pursuit of a "hard, extreme Brexit" which she claimed would hit more than 80,000 jobs in Scotland.

The leaders of the remaining five parties - Tim Farron, Caroline Lucas, Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood and Paul Nuttall - locked horns on issues ranging from Brexit and immigration, to healthcare, education and the economy.

"The SNP will always stand up against Tory cuts because they are damaging our public services and pushing more people into poverty". "None of us know what the outcome is going to be, someone will sign off that deal, either the politicians or the people - I trust the people".

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