SNP complains of 'democratic disgrace' as court challenge fails to halt head-to-head TV debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Lib Dem and SNP legal case thrown
TONIGHT’S televised election debate will go ahead without the Lib Dems and the SNP after the two parties lost their legal bid to be included in the clash between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.
Two leading judges ruled there was “no arguable breach of the Broadcasting Code” in ITV’s plans for a head-to-head debate with only the Conservative and Labour leaders.
But SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford called his party’s exclusion “a democratic disgrace”.
He said it meant the argument for escaping Brexit and Scotland choosing its own future with independence would not be heard by those tuning into the debate.
“Instead, they will only hear from the leaders of two parties who both want to pursue Brexit - taking Scotland out of the EU against its will – who want to lock Scotland into the union.
“That means the views of around 50 per cent of Scottish voters who favour independence and around 70 per cent who favour remain will be completely ignored.”
Lawyers for the Lib Dems had similarly argued that Brexit was the “dominant” issue of the General Election and that “the voice of Remain has been excluded” by ITV’s failure to include Ms Swinson in the leaders’ debate.
The judges said the only recourse open to the Lib Dems and SNP was to go to Ofcom.
Meanwhile, Messrs Johnson and Corbyn and Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson each addressed the annual CBI conference.
Mr Johnson announced he planned to postpone further corporation tax cuts in a bid to divert £6 billion to the “priorities of the British people”, including the NHS.
He told the delegates: “I hope you will understand it is the sensible fiscally responsible thing to do at the present time.
“It doesn’t mean we’re in any way averse to reducing taxes on business, as I’m sure you’ll understand.”
Mr Corbyn announced plans for a “climate apprentice” scheme to train 80,000 people a year, upskilling the UK workforce so companies can succeed in the green economy
He dismissed as “nonsense” claims that he was anti-business and defended Labour’s plans.
He said: “Business as usual is not working. And when the rules of the game are not working for the overwhelming majority, the rules of the game need to change.
“That means a new settlement for business and a stronger say for the workforce where government will drive a higher rate of investment in infrastructure, education, skills and the exciting new technologies of the future.
“The largest businesses that can afford it will pay a little bit more towards the common good from which we will all benefit.”
Ms Swinson claimed the Lib Dems were the natural party of business because of its opposition to Brexit.
She said: “We believe that being part of one of the most successful economic blocs in the world is the best guarantee we can have for the future success of our businesses and of our country.”
And she said the Lib Dems would replace business rates with a commercial landowner levy. “It will shift the burden from the tenant to the landlord so that we can breathe new life into our high streets.”