Dates are being thrashed out for a live prime time debate between the Prime Minister and Jeremy Corbyn over the terms of Britain’s departure from the bloc. But former foreign secretary Mr Johnson said the Remainer head-to-head would be pointless and leave viewers with a “false choice” about the options for the UK’s future. He said: “Debates are great for democracy – but rather than widening discourse, this debate is narrowing it by offering a false choice between May’s failing deal and Corbyn’s vague proposals – neither of which are Brexit.
“There is no point having a debate with two people who voted Remain and deals that don’t take back control.
“Any debate must involve someone who believes in Brexit and the British people being fully in control of their laws, rather than giving back control to the EU like the PM’s deal.”
Labour Brexiteer Gisela Stuart also attacked the proposed line-up, saying it was limited to “two politicians who voted and campaigned for Remain”.
“Any debate must include an advocate of a clean Brexit who wants to fully deliver on the wishes of the British people,” the chairwoman of the Change Britain group added.
Labour said Mr Corbyn would “relish” going up against Mrs May after she publicly invited him to debate her withdrawal agreement.
The Prime Minister made the decision to face the Opposition leader directly, despite refusing to do so during last year’s general election, as she scrabbled to secure support for the unpopular deal.
A number of dates were being discussed, including December 9, which could leave the leaders in a ratings battle with the final of reality television programme I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!.
MPs will vote on the deal two days later and around 90 Conservatives have indicated they will oppose it.
Mrs May is expected to challenge the Labour leader to explain why he is opposed to the deal if he is committed to workers’ rights, environmental standards and good trade links, issues she will insist are protected under her plan.
But she rejected calls to open up the debate to involve other party leaders following demands by the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and campaigners for a second referendum for a place on the stage.
During a visit to Powys, Wales, Mrs May said: “Of course I am going to be debating in the House of Commons with all parties on the issue of the Brexit deal.
“Jeremy Corbyn and I are leaders of parties that cover getting on for 90 percent of all MPs in the House of Commons.
“This is a really important moment for our country.
“I have a clear deal that I believe is in the interests of the UK and I think it is right for people to hear what Jeremy Corbyn’s views are as those have been a little uncertain recently about exactly where he stands.”
She added: “Nothing has been settled in terms of when the debate will take place but I think this is an important moment for our country and it is right that we treat it with the seriousness it deserves. It is a big decision MPs will be taking.”