What's all the kerfuffle over the details of the Brexit debate?
By Joe Harker
The date of the televised Brexit debate has been set for December 9, two days before the crucial House of Commons vote on the agreement Theresa May has secured in negotiations with the EU. May will hope to defend her deal and criticise Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's position on Brexit, while Corbyn will be hoping to attack the prime minister's handling of other issues and denounce her Brexit is unwanted by the British public.
However, there is an issue over which TV channel will host the debate, with May agreeing to the BBC's proposal and Corbyn preferring the debate be on ITV. The BBC's show would begin at 8pm and the broadcaster says they are "delighted" that the prime minister had signed up with them. They also publicly stated that Corbyn was yet to agree to appear on their hosted debate.
The government reportedly chose the BBC because it "would address the crux of the issue, namely the deal" rather than covering a broader range of subjects. May wants the debate to be about her Brexit deal, which she insists is the only one the UK can get and the EU have said is what they consider to be the final deal. Only debating the deal would allow her to needle Corbyn for proposing a renegotiation when the EU is not up for it and to stress that her deal is the only deal.
Labour are reportedly not happy with the BBC's behaviour, suspecting they are trying to "bounce" Corbyn into their debate by saying they expect to hear his response soon. PoliticsHome reports that Labour suspects they have been subject to a "stitch up" by the BBC and Theresa May's director of communications, Robbie Gibb, former head of BBC Westminster and previously responsible for the broadcaster's political programming.
Corbyn would rather have the debate on ITV, where he believes a larger and more diverse audience would be watching. Labour also do not like the BBC format of debate, where a 12 person panel of politicians and famous figures on Brexit will participate in the show and ask questions rather than the straight head to head style ITV offered.
Other political leaders are hugely unhappy with the debate only being held between May and Corbyn as both party leaders back Brexit. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon called it a "travesty of democracy" that all potential options on Brexit are not being represented at the debate. The Liberal Democrats are also demanding they are allowed to participate.
Popular ITV show I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! has a role to play in the wrangling over the details of the debate. Corbyn wants a primetime slot on Sunday that won't clash with the final, another part of the reason why he wants ITV to host the show.
Channel 4 have offered to host a "real Brexit debate" with politicians that support all outcomes of Brexit discussing the issue rather than just talking exclusively about May's deal and Corbyn's renegotiated alternative. They suggested politicians such as Sturgeon, Boris Johnson and Chukka Umunna would debate "the actual options".
People still wonder what point there is to a public debate when it is only MPs who will get a vote. While the debate is the prelude to one of the most important votes the House of Commons has seen in recent years many viewers may be wondering why they should watch May and Corbyn arguing over a deal that is very likely to be rejected by the Commons. Particularly if I'm A Celebrity is on the other channel.