DUP and Sinn Féin not included in 7-way election debates despite having more MPs than Plaid Cymru, Greens and Brexit Party

Mary Lou McDonald and Arlene Foster.
Mary Lou McDonald and Arlene Foster.

The BBC and ITV have not included the DUP or Sinn Féin in their provisional line-ups for scheduled leadership debates next week despite the parties having far more MPs than other participants.

Neither Arlene Foster nor Mary Lou McDonald have been listed to appear on BBC 1's election debate that will be broadcast live from Cardiff at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 29, or on a planned ITV election debate that will take place on Sunday, December 1, at 7 p.m.

However, Plaid Cymru (4 seats), the Green Party (1 seat) and the Brexit Party (0 seats) are all expected to take part in the debates.

The DUP won ten seats in the General Election in 2017, which was more than all of the above combined, while Sinn Féin has seven MPs, almost twice that of Plaid Cymru.

The Irish parties were not included in the 2017 leaders' debate but they both had more seats than Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and UKIP. Indeed the DUP (8 seats) held one seat less than the Liberal Democrats (9 seats) at the time.

Prior to the 2015 general election the DUP (8 seats), Sinn Féin (5 seats) and the SDLP (3 seats) all had more seats than both the Greens and UKIP - the DUP had more seats than the SNP at the time but none of the Irish parties were included in the live TV debates.

The former DUP leader Peter Robinson wrote to both the BBC and ITV to complain about not being included.