ITV announces first live election debate between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer (.)
Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer (.)

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer will go head-to-head in their first TV debate of the general election campaign next week.

The Prime Minister and Labour leader will clash in an hour-long war of words at 9pm on Tuesday.

ITV will host the hustings in front of a live studio audience.

The "Sunak v Starmer: The ITV Debate" will be moderated by journalist Julie Etchingham. 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."

The programme is expected to be the first in a series of head-to-head debates held by various national broadcasters.

TV leader debates during election campaigns have been a staple of US politics since the 1950s.

But the first televised husting in the UK did not take place until the 2010 general election when Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg took part in three.

They have since become a key part of general election campaigns.

Then PM Theresa May is the only main party leader to refuse to take part since 2010, a decision she later said she regretted.

Britain will go to the polls in just over five weeks’ time, on July 4.

Party leaders have been on the campaign trail since Mr Sunak announced the date last Wednesday in torrential rain outside Downing Street.