Sadiq Khan could face Boris Johnson in EU debate

Sadiq Khan speaking

Sadiq Khan could go head to head with his predecessor as London mayor, Boris Johnson, at the biggest EU referendum debate, just 48 hours before polling day.

Labour remain campaign boss, Alan Johnson, confirmed Khan would be making the case for the UK to stay in the EU, in front of an audience of 6,000 at Wembley Arena on 21 June, broadcast live on the BBC.

Boris Johnson has long been tipped to take the opposing side. David Cameron will not appear, unwilling to face a “blue-on-blue” showdown with the former mayor.

Jeremy Corbyn would not be taking part either, Alan Johnson said, because he had advised the Labour leader to only take part in events that have the same gravitas as the ones at which the prime minister appears.

“We have to be very careful we don’t set a precedent,” Johnson said while campaigning in Birmingham on Friday. “In general elections, whatever the prime minister does, the leader of the opposition does, and that’s going to be the same in this as well.

“The prime minister has done the one-on-one with Sky [on Thursday night with Faisal Islam]. Jeremy will be doing one of those one to ones but the prime minister won’t be anywhere near the Wembley lineup and neither will Jeremy,. And my advice to him has been don’t go anywhere near that. Sadiq Khan for the Labour party will be doing the Wembley one.”

Khan is understood to be keen to do the debate, his only concern being how the evening event would coincide with sunset during Ramadan, when observant Muslims who have fasted in daylight hours are permitted to eat again.

No 10 is reported to be concerned about the balance of the audience at the Wembley event, which will be moderated by Question Time’s David Dimbleby, the Today programme’s Mishal Husain and Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis.

Anyone can apply for tickets to the event online, but the BBC has said it would vet the entire audience to ensure each side, as well as those who are undecided, are fairly represented.

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, confirmed she will take part in an ITV debate on the EU referendum next week and Johnson is also her most likely opponent.

The debate will follow Tuesday night’s debate on the channel with Cameron and Ukip’s Nigel Farage, but the pair will not appear together. Energy secretary, Amber Rudd, and shadow business secretary, Angela Eagle, are also tipped to appear, representing the pro-EU side.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jessica Elgot, for theguardian.com on Saturday 4th June 2016 16.48 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010