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Theresa May: 'I want to speak directly to voters' - Sky reporter: 'I've not seen her meet one'

Journalists have reacted with scepticism to Theresa May’s claim this morning that she would rather debate directly with voters than meet her rival leaders on TV.

Taking questions at a press conference in Harrow she was asked why she is refusing to take part in a televised leaders’ debate.

She said: “I’ve learnt how important it is to get out there, to speak directly to voters and to listen to their concerns.

“That’s my instruction to candidates at this election, it’s to go out there and earn the support of the British people.”

The BBC said today it would not be pressing May to appear on a leader debate, instead hosting a seven-way encounter featuring “spokespeople”.

Adam Bienkov political editor of UK Business Insider said on Twitter: “In Harrow where Theresa May is meeting voters. And by voters I mean 50 or so Tory candidates in a hall on the edge of an industrial estate.”

Sky News political reporter Beth Rigby said on Twitter: “May, in the most controlled election campaign I’ve ever seen, tells party they have to get out on streets. I’ve not seen her meet 1 voter.”

And Guardian live blogger Andrew Sparrow said on Twitter: “May says she is taking part in ‘debates up and down the country’ – using rather idiosyncratic definition of debate.”

Kevin Maguire of the Mirror said: “Theresa May takes questions from journalists selected in advance but still doesn’t answer. Dodging TV debates to avoid being pinned down.”

Meanwhile Sky’s Sophie Ridge received short shrift from Tory MP Anna Soubry when she tried to curb her use of the party’s favourite catch-phrase in an interview on Sunday.

Ridge: “Can we make a deal that that’s the last time you say ‘strong and stable leadership’?”

Soubry: “I really object to the idea that Britain’s media now decides whether or not parties can use slogans. How dare they? Who do they think they are? Parties in all elections have slogans. Electors are the only people that matter.”

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