SNP making ‘strenuous representations’ over TV election debates spot – Swinney

The SNP is making “strenuous representations” to try and secure a spot in the television General Election debates, John Swinney has said.

The First Minister said it is “ridiculous” the SNP has been excluded from the first televised clash between party leaders.

It comes after it was confirmed the first debate will be a head-to-head between Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on ITV on June 4.

The hour-long debate will be moderated by Julie Etchingham and take place in front of a studio audience.

Asked about the debate while attending the opening of the Levenmouth rail line on Wednesday, Mr Swinney said: “I think it’s ridiculous that the third party in UK politics has been excluded from the debates that are being taken forward.

John Swinney
John Swinney said the SNP should be included in the debates (PA)

ITV confirmed the timing and format of the first debate on Wednesday.

Michael Jermey, ITV’s director of news and current affairs, said: “Millions of viewers value the election debates.

“They provide a chance to see and hear the party leaders set out their pitch to the country, debate directly with each other and take questions from voters.

“ITV is pleased to be broadcasting the first debate in this year’s election campaign.”

Meanwhile, broadcaster STV announced the first Scottish TV election debate will take place on Monday June 3, with the leaders of the four parties who won seats in Scotland at the last general election all set to take part.

Mr Swinney, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, Labour’s Anas Sarwar and Alex Cole-Hamilton, of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, will go head to head in the 90-minute television showdown.

Linda Grimes Douglas, head of news and current affairs at STV, said: “Ahead of major votes like the forthcoming General Election, we know many viewers value having the opportunity to hear political leaders set out their plans for the country and debate the issues that matter most to the electorate.

“STV is pleased to be broadcasting the first leaders’ debate of the election campaign. An in-depth and robust head-to-head, it will likely set the agenda for the coming weeks in Scotland.”

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