Tory leadership race: BBC prepares to host debate


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Media captionPolitical Correspondent Nick Eardley on set ahead of the debate

The candidates to be Conservative Party leader – and the UK’s next prime minister – are to take part in a live televised debate on BBC One later.

The programme at 20:00 BST hosted by Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis will be broadcast two hours after Tory MPs vote in the second bout of the contest.

Questions will be from the public but there will not be an audience, opening or closing statements.

The front-runner in the contest, Boris Johnson, says he will be taking part.

The former foreign secretary missed Sunday’s TV debate on Channel 4.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, ex-Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart are the other leadership hopefuls.

Conservative MPs have voted by secret ballot in the Commons in the next stage of the leadership contest, with a result expected some time after 18:00 BST.

Candidates will be eliminated from the contest – and therefore will not be part of the TV debate at New Broadcasting House in central London – if they come last or fail to secure at least 33 votes.

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There are six candidates left in the race

The hour-long programme, called Our Next Prime Minister, will see the candidates face questions from viewers via video links from BBC studios across the UK.

The BBC received thousands of questions ahead of the debate, with the largest number being about Brexit.

Other topics submitted included HS2, public spending and climate.

Each candidate will be given an opportunity to answer every question posed.

The programme team will select the questions to be asked after making an editorial decision on the ones that best represent the issues likely to face the next prime minister.

The BBC said the questions will come from a cross-section of society, not necessarily all Conservative voters.

How can you watch the debate tonight?

Our Next Prime Minister will be hosted by BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis and broadcast on BBC One at 20:00 BST.

You can also follow the debate on our live page on the BBC News website.

Alternatively, you can stream the debate online through BBC Sounds or by watching BBC One and the News Channel through iPlayer.

From 21:00 BST, the BBC News Channel will be broadcasting reaction to the debate from politicians and pundits.

The debate will be also be broadcast live on Radio 4.

What type of questions have BBC viewers been asking?

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Judith Johnson, Marcus Adams, Leigh Cobb and Steve Garner all submitted questions to the debate

Leigh Cobb, from Worcestershire

Question topic: Breaking the impasse in Parliament

Hopes for the debate: “I’d hope to see some kind of clarification on the options we have as a country and the consequences those option will have, both positive and negative.

Steven Garner, from Blackpool

Question topic: The EU withdrawal agreement

Hopes for the debate: “I hope to see realistic, pragmatic solutions to leaving the EU with a deal. Any new prime minister will have the same challenge Theresa May had in Parliament.”

Judith Johnson, from Bristol

Question topic: Appeal to Conservative voters

Hopes for the debate: “I hope for an honest exchange of views in the debate this evening because otherwise, why bother?”

Marcus Adams, from Truro

Question topic: Appeal to non-Conservative voting Remain supporters

Hopes for the debate: “It would be good to see anything in this debate that inspires confidence that any of these candidates have a credible plan, the genuine belief and the capability to lead this country.”

Peter Clerkin, from east London

Question topic: Immigration policy after Brexit and the problems some sectors are having in hiring staff

Hopes for the debate: “I’d like to see what the candidates’ vision for the country is after Brexit and how they plan to heal the divides that exist.”

Michael Williams, from Uttoxeter

Question topic: The other candidates

Hopes for the debate: “I like to hear, what I think are, truthful answers rather than whimsical, evasive or answers that politicians think the public want to hear”

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