ITV has confirmed that it will hold a leaders debate ahead of the general election on 8 June, despite Number 10 ruling out Theresa May's participation in such an event.

The broadcaster's move means either the prime minister can show up to the debate and risk strengthening Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn or decide to stay away from the studios and be empty-chaired.

The SNP's Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, revealed the plan for the programme during Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday 19 April.

A spokesperson for ITV later said: "ITV will hold a leaders' debate as we did in 2010 and 2015."

Julie Etchingham, who hosted ITV's 2015 general election debate, is expected to reprise her moderator role, with more details coming in early May.

Both Gordon Brown and David Cameron took part in TV debates, setting a precedent for May, who succeeded Cameron as prime minister last July.

"Elections and democracy are about public debate. So it's rather strange that only a couple of hours after calling for a general election, the Prime Minister is saying she's not going to take part in TV debates," Corbyn said.

"I say to Theresa May, who said this election was about leadership: come on and show some. Let's have the debates. It's what democracy needs and what the British people deserve."

The latest opinion polls from ICM, YouGov and ComRes have given the Conservatives a 21 point lead over Labour. So May has it all to lose if she agrees to a TV debate with Corbyn.