A televised debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn on the Brexit deal is nearer to taking place after the prime minister issued a personal challenge to her Labour rival.
With Mrs May desperate to sell her agreement with Brussels to both the UK public and MPs, she is engaging in a fortnight-long public relations offensive.
The prime minister has now confirmed a TV debate is among her plans as she set out how she will be attempting to win support for her deal.
In an interview with The Sun, Mrs May said: “I am going to be going out and round the country. I am going to be talking to people.
“I am going to be explaining why I think this deal is the right deal for the UK – and yes, I am ready to debate it with Jeremy Corbyn. Because I have got a plan. He hasn’t got a plan.”
In response to Mrs May’s challenge, Mr Corbyn was said to be eager to take on the prime minister.
“Jeremy would relish a head-to-head debate with Theresa May about her botched Brexit deal and the future of our country,” a Labour Party spokesperson said.
A Sky Data poll shows some two-thirds of the public – 66% – support a debate between Mrs May and Mr Corbyn, with 33% opposed.
People are split as to whether someone who supports a second referendum on Brexit should be included in the debate in addition to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition – 51% say they should, 49% that they should not.
But the public are much more in favour of including someone who would be willing to consider a “no-deal” Brexit as a serious option as well as Mrs May and Mr Corbyn – 63% say such a figure should be included, while 37% say there should not.
Mrs May came in for heavy criticism during the 2017 snap general election for dodging direct TV debates with other party leaders.
Almost 90,000 people have signed a Sky News’ petition calling for an independent commission to make sure TV debates become a fixture of UK elections.
The Sun reported Downing Street has earmarked 9 December as a provisional date for a TV debate between Mrs May and Mr Corbyn, which would be two days before MPs’ crunch vote on the Brexit deal.
Any TV debate solely between the prime minister and the Labour leader is likely to be met with fierce criticism from other political parties and campaign groups.
The People’s Vote campaign for a second EU referendum have already urged broadcasters to consider including other voices in any Brexit TV debate.
And Brexiteers have suggested a Leave-supporter should be invited to join Mrs May and Mr Corbyn, who both supported Remain at the 2016 EU referendum, in any possible debate.
The Daily Telegraph reported foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt told Mrs May during Monday’s cabinet to debate ex-prime minister Tony Blair, who wants a fresh Brexit referendum, rather than Mr Corbyn.