Shropshire Star

Nigel Farage demands BBC leaders’ debate panel spot

The Reform UK leader suggested the BBC should feature him in the line-up after a landmark poll put his party ahead of the Conservatives.

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (right), host Julie Etchingham and Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer during an ITV General Election debate

Nigel Farage has demanded a spot on the BBC’s four-way leaders’ debate panel, which Fiona Bruce will host in York next Thursday.

The Reform UK leader suggested the broadcaster should feature him in the line-up after a landmark poll put his party ahead of the Conservatives.

The two-hour Question Time Leaders’ Special is set to feature the leaders of Great Britain’s four largest political parties, the BBC has said.

Based on the number of House of Commons seats before a General Election was called, the Conservatives had a majority, ahead of Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats.

Nigel Farage behind a podium holds his hands apart while speaking
Nigel Farage took part in a seven-way debate on ITV1 on Thursday alongside six other senior political party figures (Jonathan Hordle/ITV/PA)

Reform UK had just one MP with Lee Anderson, in the Nottinghamshire constituency of Ashfield.

At a press conference in London on Friday, Mr Farage said his party had crossed an “inflection point” and added: “The inflection point means that, actually, if you vote Conservative in the red wall, you will almost certainly get Labour.

“A Conservative vote in the red wall is now a wasted vote.

“We are the challengers to Labour. We are now the real opposition.

“And this needs to be reflected, and it’s beginning to be reflected by the polling industry but it needs to be reflected by the broadcasters as well, because Ofcom and the guidance they’ve given to broadcasters say that really, the most important of all the factors is the performance in the last two general elections.

“We haven’t stood in the last two general elections. It’s as if everything in our politics is designed to stop new boys and girls coming in and to keep everything the same.”

Mr Farage, who has previously had his own shows on LBC and GB News, and starred in last year’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, added: “I think we can demand of right now that the BBC put us into that debate.

“I would also very much like to do a debate head-to-head with Keir Starmer and the reason’s very simple – we think this should be the immigration election because whether we’re talking about rents, whether we’re talking about housing availability, whether we’re talking about access to GP services, whether we’re talking about pressure on infrastructure, there is no aspect of our national life that is not touched by the massive population crisis this country now faces directly as a result of immigration policies that were started by Labour but accelerated by this Conservative Government.

“And I thought it was very interesting to see the Labour manifesto where Keir Starmer lays out his six priorities for the country and not one of those six was mass migration into Britain.”

Mr Farage also wrote on social media site X, formerly Twitter, that he wanted to take part in a head-to-head debate on Wednesday June 26, when Mishal Husain will host Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in Nottingham.

The Reform UK leader wrote: “As we are now ahead of the Conservatives in the polls, I demand that Reform UK is a part of this debate.

“If the BBC want a fight with me on this, they can have one.”

I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! – 2023
Nigel Farage, who took part in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!’ in 2023 has said ‘politics is designed to stop new boys and girls coming in’ (PA)”

YouGov’s poll for The Times, of 2,211 adults in Britain on Wednesday and Thursday, put Reform UK at 19% – ahead of the Conservatives at 18% and the Liberal Democrats at 14%.

Labour led with 37%.

The PA news agency has averaged polls published by several firms including YouGov.

An average of all polls that were carried out wholly or partly during the seven days to Friday June 14 puts Labour on 42%, 21 points ahead of the Conservatives on 21%, followed by Reform on 15%, the Lib Dems on 11% and the Green Party on 6%.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Nigel Farage and Reform UK have received coverage across BBC outlets, including Mr Farage appearing on Question Time, being interviewed on the Today programme, taking part in the BBC seven-way debate, being interviewed on Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, on BBC Breakfast, and participating in the Nicky Campbell phone-in on BBC 5 Live and BBC News channel.

“He is invited to participate in the leaders’ interviews with Nick Robinson.

“The BBC’s editorial guidelines and Ofcom’s guidance state that we should give due weight to past and current electoral support when determining coverage for political parties.

“The Ofcom guidance gives ‘greater weight on the actual performance of a political party in elections over opinion poll data’ taking into account the ‘greater uncertainty associated with support in opinion polls’.

“Our guidelines set out the broad levels of coverage each of the parties should expect to receive but we follow the story of the campaign, including continued trends in the polls.”

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