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ITV says it will broadcast a TV election debate with Britain’s political leaders, raising the prospect of prime minister Theresa May being empty-chaired if she continues to refuse to take part.

ITV, Britain’s second most-watched channel, will revive the 2015 format where leaders of all the seven biggest parties were invited – the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the UK Independence party, the Scottish National party, Plaid Cymru and the Greens.

The debate will take place on Thursday May 18 at 8pm. ITV says that the 2015 version attracted an average of 7m viewers.

Mrs May has rejected the idea of taking part in a debate, saying she prefers to meet people out campaigning. Labour has also said that Jeremy Corbyn won’t take part, if the prime minister does not.

The Conservative campaign has also raised heckles among many journalists for the limited access given to the media at campaign events. Advised by the Australian pollster Sir Lynton Crosby, Mrs May has stuck to a tight script.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.

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