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The first head-to-head debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn will take place within an hour from this question being posted.

In the past, there have been occasions where leaders have refused to take part in TV debates; it began with David Cameron refusing to take part if the Green party were excluded, and during the 2017 election Theresa May refused altogether, instead sending Amber Rudd on her behalf. Boris Johnson also refused to take part in some of the debates during the Conservative Party leadership election.

In all of these cases, it is the front runner that appears to be trying to avoid scrutiny. Why is this? Doesn’t being seen to be running away from scrutiny have a negative effect on their campaign? Is there any polling data on this? And have the TV debates had a noticeable or quantifiable effect on voting intention in past elections?

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