The third televised debate between the Conservative leadership contenders has been cancelled.
It had been scheduled to be hosted by Sky News on Tuesday evening.
Channel 4 held the first debate of the contest on Friday before the second debate on ITV on Sunday.
ITV’s debate saw heated exchanges between the five contenders – Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Penny Mordaunt, Tom Tugendhat and Kemi Badenoch.
However, Conservative MPs are believed to be concerned of the potential impact on the party of the clashes.
Sky News confirmed on Monday that their debate had been cancelled after Sunak and Truss stated they did not want to participate.
A statement from Sky News read: “Tuesday evening’s live television debate on Sky News between the Conservative Party leadership candidates has been cancelled.
“Two of the three candidates currently leading in the MPs’ ballots – Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss – have confirmed to Sky News that they do not want to take part.
“Conservative MPs are said to be concerned about the damage the debates are doing to the image of the Conservative Party, exposing disagreements and splits within the party.
“Both are very welcome to take part in future Sky News televised debates.”
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner hit out at the Conservatives over the debate cancellation.
“This Conservative ‘leadership’ contest is so scarily embarrassing they’ve pulled out of the debate – so you can’t see them fighting like rats in a sack,” she said.
A source on Mordaunt’s campaign said: “Media scrutiny is important in this contest. Penny has done broadcast and allowed time for journalists to ask questions at her launch.
“MPs aren’t just picking a new leader, but picking the nation’s new PM. Penny hopes there will be ample opportunity for such scrutiny later in the contest in a format that allows detailed questions and insights.”
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