General Election 2019: what to expect from the first TV debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn

Labour and Conservative leaders prepare for debate, Greens and DUP set out their stalls and Shadow Chancellor makes his speech - all this in today’s General Election 2019 daily briefing

Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson will face each other tonight in the first televised live debate of the election campaign.

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ITV will host the first head-to-head between the Labour and Conservative leaders, with news presenter Julie Etchingham chairing the event. It will air at 8pm UK time.

Controversially, the programme will feature the leaders of only the two largest parties, after a High Court challenge mounted by the Liberal Democrats and SNP arguing for their inclusion failed.

Instead, the leaders of the smaller parties, including Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, will get their chance to react in a follow-up show that will be broadcast at 10pm.

Mr Johnson is expected to clash with his Labour opponent on key issues such as Brexit and the NHS.

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Such is the importance of Brexit to the current election, half of the hour-long programme will focus on questions for the candidates about the issue.

All other matters will then be discussed in the second portion of the debate.

The leaders will stand behind podiums and deliver one minute and 45-second long speeches before and after the debate respectively.

Lots were drawn to decide who speaks first, and Mr Corbyn chose to open.

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The debate can be watched on ITV, and online on ITVhub if you are a UK-based viewer.

First time two candidates face off

This will be the first time that just two prime ministerial candidates will face each other head-to-head on television.

During the 2010 general election campaign David Cameron and Gordon Brown faced off, however Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg was also present for those debates.

On Monday the Lib Dems appealed to the High Court on the grounds that they wanted their pro-remain stance to be covered in the TV debate.

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The SNP also made an appeal on the basis that they wanted Scottish Independence to be brought up.

However, although they were told they can appeal once more to Ofcom after the broadcast, Lord Justice Davis and Mr Justice Warby ruled that as ITV was not carrying out what could be legally defined as a “public function” by hosting the debate, the issue was not suitable for judicial review.

Another live debate, hosted by the BBC on December 6 ahead of the poll on December 12, will also not feature any of the leaders other than Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn.

The Liberal Democrats have written to the BBC to complain about this decision.

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John McDonnell’s speech

While Corbyn and Johnson prepare for the live debate, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell has been giving his speech to further make a case for Labour’s leadership ahead of their manifesto launch on Thursday.

Key points of Mr McDonnell’s statement focussed on the claim that Labour is pro-business, but that it would look to bolster the regulatory systems on big businesses to try to prevent huge failures like Thomas Cook and Carillion in recent times.

He stressed the need to ensure big businesses were not just driven by profit, and also took into account the wellbeing of employees and the environment.

Mr McDonnell also said that companies not moving towards de-carbonisation would be de-listed. He also said that their would be no windfall tax for oil companies.

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Green Party manifesto launch

The Green Party has today launched its manifesto, which pledges a zero-carbon economy by 2030.

The Green Party leader Jonathan Bartley also highlighted the fact that it was a firm ‘remain’ party, and said that this was in contrast to Labour’s stance on the issue.

The Greens also promised to invest more than £100billion a year into a ‘green new deal’.

DUP launch 12-point-plan for Northern Ireland

Arlene Foster spoke at the DUP’s launch of its 12-point plan, ruling out any chance that her party would support a Corbyn-led government in the case of a hung parliament.

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She said: “We are very clear that we will not be supporting a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party in a government because we believe Jeremy Corbyn would not only be hugely detrimental to the United Kingdom in terms of the break-up of the United Kingdom, and we have heard the whole discussion around the Scottish independence referendum, and we would be very fearful for the economy of the United Kingdom and we would be very fearful for the defence of our United Kingdom on a global scale.

“So there are many, many reasons why we couldn’t in all consciousness support a Jeremy Corbyn-led administration.”

The 12-point-plan listed the restoration of the Assembly as the DUP’s number one priority.

Hot Take

“Mr Johnson’s team are confident that he can get the better of his opponent, but in reality will be content if the match ends in a score draw.” (Read more from Nigel Morris,

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#GE19 tweet of the day

Nicola Sturgeon responds to news that Boris Johnson will not debate her and will never agree to a second referendum:

Is this the ‘die in a ditch’ definition of ‘never’? 😂

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) November 19, 2019