THE BBC has cancelled plans for a Brexit TV debate after Labour rejected its format, which would have involved a a studio panel of 20 politicians, commentators and business chiefs.

Jeremy Corbyn has backed ITV’s proposal for a two person, one-on-one discussion with the Prime Minister.

That, however, is unacceptable to Downing Street.

The BBC said they were “disappointed” not to reach an agreement. A statement added: “We have been clear throughout the whole of this process that, as well as a substantive head-to-head debate, any programme we broadcast would need to include other voices, including other political parties, to reflect the wide range of views the public and parliamentarians hold about Brexit.”

Theresa May first challenged Corbyn to a live debate last week. It was pencilled in for December 9, two days before MPs are due to vote on May’s Brexit deal.

But following the breakdown of the BBC debate, a Labour Party spokesperson said: “Theresa May is running away from the scrutiny of a head-to-head debate with Jeremy Corbyn, as she did in the 2017 General Election campaign.

“When Number 10 told the media she wanted a head-to-head debate on her botched Brexit deal, Jeremy Corbyn immediately agreed.

“Jeremy Corbyn then swiftly accepted ITV’s proposal for a straightforward head-to-head debate with Theresa May. But the Prime Minister has rejected it.

“Since then, the Prime Minister’s team and their preferred broadcaster, the BBC, have put together a confused format which would limit head-to-head debating time, with a built-in advantage for the government.”

A Downing Street spokesman said: “Jeremy Corbyn and Labour have done nothing but raise false and flimsy objections to the BBC’s proposal. He is running scared of proper scrutiny, but we remain committed to holding a debate and will continue to press for a format that ensures a range of voices are heard alongside a substantial head to head.”

May has expressed concern that holding the debate on ITV would mean she missed Strictly Come Dancing. But ITV stressed that “invitations remain open” to both her and Corbyn.