Theresa May slammed for no-show in noisy and ill-tempered election debate

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Amber Rudd defended Theresa May from attacks by six political leaders days after she had learnt of the death of her 93-year-old father.

There were leaders of seven parties at the debate, but by keeping away May became the most talked about leader: most ridiculed her, leaving only Home secretary Amber Rudd - her replacement - to put up a weak defence to justify her absence.

She clashed with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who announced earlier in the day that he would join the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, Green party co-leader Caroline Lucas, Ukip's Paul Nuttall, Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood and the SNP's Angus Robertson for the BBC1 debate in Cambridge.

The prime-time debate is also making headlines in the papers, with the Guardian calling it "fractious", adding it was a "gamble" for Jeremy Corbyn to turn up given a poor performance on Woman's Hour on Tuesday.

The Home Secretary, who participated in Wednesday night's debate in place of Theresa May, was grilled over the lack of costings in the Tory manifesto.

"Have you seen the levels of poverty that exist because of your government's conscious decisions on benefits?"

There were, however, a few extremely disappointed fans who took pains to point out that it was NOT in fact the almighty Bake Off which was about to air on BBC2 - because, you know, it moved to Channel 4, remember? - but that Farron had instead pointed us in the direction of spin-off show, Creme de la Creme. She might be out there sizing up your house to pay for your social care.

She continued: "We've reduced the deficit; we've reduced taxes for the lowest paid".

"Judge us on our record", Rudd declared, with some members of the public bursting into laughter. "She wants five years as prime minister and she thinks you'll give it to her, no questions asked - literally", he said.

"If you intervene somewhere, the consequences go on for a very long time", he said.

But the Home Secretary hit back: "I am shocked that Jeremy Corbyn just in 2011 boasted that he had opposed every piece of anti-terror legislation in his 30 years in office".

Mr Corbyn responded that Mrs May and other senior Conservatives had voted against anti-terror laws in 2005.

As the debate drew to a close, Mr Nuttall concluded by boasting: "We have been proven right on Brexit, proved right on immigration, proved right on grammar schools, proved right on protecting our police and security services".

Mr Robertson accused the PM of "lacking guts" while Ms Lucas added: 'You don't call a General Election and say it's the most important in our lifetime and then can't even be bothered to show up'. Don't give her yours'.

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