When is the next election TV debate? How to watch the BBC programme live

Sunak and Starmer debate
Sunak and Starmer debate

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer will go head-to-head once again in a BBC debate on June 26 – a week before the country heads to the polls.

The programme will feature only the Prime Minister and his opposition leader, following a similar format to the ITV debate hosted by Mishal Husain on June 4.

It will be one of Mr Sunak’s final opportunities to sway voters before they head to the polls, which currently predict a Tory wipeout at the hands of Labour.

Here is the remaining debate schedule at a glance: 

Sir Keir Starmer speaks at an ITV general election debate in Salford on June 4
Sir Keir Starmer speaks at an ITV general election debate in Salford on June 4 - ITV

When is the next general election debate? 

The BBC will host what is likely to be the 2024 election campaign’s final TV debate on Wednesday June 26 – one week before the country will head to the polls.

The programme will be another head-to-head clash between Mr Sunak and Mr Starmer only, similar to the ITV debate they took part in on June 4, and hosted by Mishal Husain.

It will kick off at 8:15pm and run until 9:30pm.

The programme was intended to be hosted by Sophie Raworth, but she has since been asked to step down after fracturing her ankle, according to the BBC.

Sir Keir agreed to only two head-to-head discussions at the beginning of the election campaign, saying he would not speak at any of the larger TV debates happening either.

Question Time special – June 28, 8pm on the BBC

Following complaints from the leader of Reform after he was not invited to attend the first Question Time special, the broadcaster has announced a second programme on Friday June 28.

The corporation said it had added the second billing to its election coverage to reflect “the fact that it is clear from across a broad range of opinion polls that the support for Reform UK has been growing”.

Mr Farage had demanded a spot on Thursday’s programme after an opinion poll put his party ahead of the Conservatives and has said he is “pleased” with the BBC’s recognition of his party’s growing favour.

The Question Time special will be hosted by Fiona Bruce from 8pm and the Green Party has also been invited to attend.

How many debates will there be before the election?

Seven debates were being held in the run-up to July 4, with two left to go following the BBC’s special Question Time broadcast on June 20.

The first head-to-head debate between Mr Sunak and Sir Keir on June 4 came before a seven-way BBC debate on June 7 which saw Nigel Farage, Penny Mordaunt and Angela Rayner battle it out alongside four other leading party representatives.

The Labour and Tory party leaders then featured again in Sky News’ The Battle for Number 10 programme on June 12.

On June 13, Nigel Farage, Penny Mordaunt and Angela Rayner returned alongside four other party leaders in a second seven-way election debate hosted by ITV, which included 90 minutes of questioning.

The four main party leaders Mr Sunak, Sir Keir, the SNP’s John Swinney and Sir Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, took part in the most recent television special on June 20. The leaders did not go head to head and instead were given 30-minute slots to answer audience questions.

The debate announcements were confirmed after the Tories had pressed Sir Keir to take part in a record six debates during the six-week election countdown.

Conservative sources had dubbed the opposition leader “the knight that won’t fight” and “Sir Fear Starmer” after he failed to sign up to their weekly debate demand.

Labour headquarters indicated instead that their leader would take part in two head-to-head debates against Mr Sunak, matching what Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn did before the 2019 election.

What channels are the debates on?

The BBC, ITV and Sky News have hosted election debates in an array of formats.

All broadcasts from the BBC are available on BBC1, BBC News and are live on the corporation’s streaming platform BBC Iplayer. It is also airing some debates on local radio.

The ITV leaders’ debate is available on its steaming service ITVX.

Each platform has also streamed programmes on YouTube.

The Telegraph is providing live coverage of all the debates with expert analysis and reaction.

Will the debates clash with any football fixtures?

There have been several clashes between debate timings and football fixtures – an inevitability with the jam-packed TV schedules.

Football fans and politics watchers were torn on June 7, when the BBC’s debate with the seven parties coincided with England’s international warm-up with Iceland on Channel 4.

England played Denmark the same day as the BBC’s Question Time special, but an earlier kick-off time of 5pm meant the match had finished before the election programme at 8pm.

Who won the previous debates?

June 4, ITV leaders’ debate
Mr Sunak seemed extraordinarily confident and put in one of the best performances seen in an election debate, Janet Daley said.

Tom Harris, conversely, held that Sir Keir Starmer made more of the opportunity, effectively skewering the Prime Minister on his party’s record in government.

June 7, BBC leaders’ debate

Sherelle Jacobs held that Nigel Farage made real inroads in his bid to overtake the Tories as the preferred party of the Right.

But Tom Harris was not convinced, saying that Stephen Flynn, Westminster leader of the SNP, and Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth fared best.

June 12, Sky News’s The Battle for Number 10

Tim Stanley said the public came out worse from the tetchy encounter on Sky.

Tom Harris argued that Sir Keir’s swagger saw him struggle under scrutiny, whereas Janet Daley said Mr Sunak was more convincing.

June 13, ITV leaders’ debate

For Tim Stanley, Nigel Farage and Stephen Flynn were the big winners.

Sam Ashworth-Hayes said Angela Rayner showed some awareness of the need for big ideas to fix the NHS.

Tom Harris argued that the main loser was the audience, since every single participant in the debate appeared together at the June 7 BBC debate.

June 20, BBC Question Time leaders’ interviews special

Sam Ashworth-Hayes said Sir Ed Davey and John Swinney did not fare well in their 30-minute interrogations.

For Tim Stanley, Sir Keir Starmer’s answers had all been heard before and Mr Sunak’s “hands were lively but his face dead”.

When is the general election?

The general election will take place on July 4 as the country heads to the polls between 7am and 10pm to have their say over the next prime minister.

It was confirmed by Mr Sunak in a rain-sodden speech outside Downing Street on May 22 that the election would happen six weeks later.

Both the Prime Minister and other party leaders have been on the campaign trail since then in a bid to win over voters.