Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn prepared to square off Tuesday in the first live televised debate of Britain's election, each trying to spark a lackluster campaign to life.
The hour-long encounter — the first-ever head-to-head TV debate between a British prime minister and their chief challenger — offers Corbyn a chance to make up ground in opinion polls, which show his Labour Party trailing Johnson's Conservatives ahead of the Dec. 12 election.
For Johnson, it's a chance to shake off a wobbly start that has seen the Conservatives thrown onto the defensive by candidates' gaffes and favoritism allegations about Johnson's past relationship with an American businesswoman.
Johnson limbered up Tuesday by donning boxing gloves emblazoned with his campaign slogan "Get Brexit done" during a visit to a gym in northwest England.
The debate will feature only two candidates after the High Court in London rejected a legal challenge from two smaller anti-Brexit parties, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party, over ITV's decision to exclude their leaders from the debate. The court decided it was a matter of "editorial judgment'' to limit the format to the leaders of Britain's two largest political parties.
Televised debates are a relatively new phenomenon in British elections — the first took place in 2010 — and they have the power to transform campaigns. A confident 2010 appearance by former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg sparked a wave of "Cleggmania" that helped propel him into the post of deputy prime minister in a coalition government with the Conservatives.
During Britain's last election in 2017, then-Prime Minister Theresa May refused to take part in a TV debate. The decision reinforced the view that she was a weak campaigner and the election turned out to be a debacle for the Conservative Party, which lost its majority in Parliament.
Britain's stalled departure from the European Union is the overriding issue in the Dec. 12 vote. Johnson pushed to hold the election more than two years ahead of schedule in an effort to win a majority in the House of Commons to pass his Brexit divorce deal with the European Union.
More than three years after the U.K. voted to leave the 28-nation bloc, the terms of the country's departure and its future relationship with the EU remain unclear. Britain is now scheduled to leave the EU on Jan. 31 after the EU granted a three-month delay amid gridlock in Parliament over Johnson's Brexit deal.
The left-of-center Labour Party, meanwhile, says it will hold a new referendum on whether to remain in the EU or leave the bloc. Smaller parties in the race include the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, who want to cancel Brexit; the Scottish National Party, which seeks Scotland's independence from the U.K.; and the anti-EU Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage.
All 650 seats in the House of Commons are up for grabs.
The debate comes during a week in which the political parties are launching their election platforms.
Labour plans to release its detailed manifesto on Thursday, promising a much bigger role for the state in the economy.
Labour economy spokesman John McDonnell told the BBC that the party would tackle society's "grotesque levels of inequality." He criticized the status quo, saying dozens of billionaires are living in the country while other people are lining up at food banks and "dying on our streets."
Johnson's Conservatives accuse Labour of peddling failed socialist ideas but in a shift in policy, the Conservatives are also wooing voters with promises of more public spending on health, education and infrastructure after almost a decade of cuts and austerity budgets.
The Tory campaign has been dented by renewed focus on allegations that Johnson gave favors and public funds to U.S. tech entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri — with whom he had a relationship — while he was mayor of London between 2008 and 2016.
Johnson has insisted that "everything was done with full propriety."
The Green Party, meanwhile, released its platform, pledging a net zero carbon target by 2030. Co-leader Jonathan Bartley told the BBC the party wanted to introduce a frequent flyer tax and that it was against airport expansions.
"When there's a war, when we're facing an existential threat, we don't hold back, we know that we have to tackle it,'' he said. "Frankly, if the climate were a bank, we would have bailed it out by now."
Several other televised campaign events are planned involving senior figures from up to seven British political parties, and Corbyn and Johnson are due to square off again in a BBC debate on Dec. 6.
Israel's prime minister traveled to the West Bank on Tuesday to celebrate the U.S.'s announcement that it does not consider Israeli settlements to violate international law.
Benjamin Netanyahu called the Trump administration's declaration, which stepped back from four decades of U.S. policy and reversed the policies of President Barack Obama, a "huge achievement" that "fixed a historic wrong."
"I think it is a great day for the state of Israel and an achievement that will remain for decades," he said.
Netanyahu spoke Tuesday at a gathering of ecstatic supporters and settler leaders in Alon Shvut, a settlement outside of Jerusalem.
Israeli right-wing leaders welcomed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's announcement. Although it is largely symbolic, it fueled calls from settler supporters for increased construction or even the annexation of parts of the West Bank.
The Palestinians, who claim the West Bank as part of a future state, condemned the decision. They and other countries said the move undercuts any chances of a broader peace deal.
Over 400,000 settlers now live in the West Bank, in addition to more than 200,000 settlers in east Jerusalem, the Palestinian's hoped-for capital.
The Palestinians and the international community say that settlements are illegal and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. Israel says the fate of the settlements should be determined in negotiations.
The head of the Arab League joined the large number of critics, condemning the Trump administration's latest decision "in the strongest terms."
The league's secretary-general, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said the decision would result in "more violence and cruelty" against the Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli settlers and "undermines any possibility" of achieving peace.
The White House says it has developed a Mideast peace plan, but it has not yet unveiled it. The Palestinians already have rejected the plan, accusing the U.S. of unfair bias in favor of Israel.
The Trump administration has made a number of moves in favor of Israel, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, recognizing Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights and shuttering the Palestinian diplomatic offices in Washington.
A dozen Cuban asylum-seekers detained in a New Mexico say they have repeatedly been placed in solitary confinement for going on hunger strikes.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports two asylum-seekers in federal immigration custody said they and 10 others were put in solitary confinement twice as punishment for protesting their lengthy stay in prison.
The men are being held at the privately run Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, New Mexico.
Juan Carlos Peña Pavon told the newspaper he spent nine days in solitary confinement.
The 51-year-old Peña Pavon is part of a group of detained asylum-seekers that last month staged sit-ins at Otero County Processing Center in Chaparral, New Mexico.
A spokeswoman at Immigration and Customs Enforcement's El Paso field office did not respond to an email.
A New York City man convicted in an extortion scheme that involved kidnapping immigrants at a bus station has been sentenced in Connecticut to eight years in prison.
A federal judge in Bridgeport handed down the punishment Monday to 56-year-old Carlos Hernandez, who was one of four people convicted in the case.
Prosecutors say the defendants targeted immigrants after they got off buses in New York City, coerced them into vehicles and refused to let them go until relatives paid a ransom, usually around $1,000.
The victims included men, women and children from Central American countries who did not speak English and were seeking asylum in the U.S.
Some of them were headed to Connecticut.
Two other defendants have been sentenced to prison and another awaits sentencing.
An independent expert working with the U.N. human rights office estimates that over 100,000 children are being held in migration-related detention in the United States.
Human rights lawyer Manfred Nowak said Monday the U.S. is holding "far more" than are other countries for which he has reliable figures. About 60 out of every 100,000 children in the U.S. are deprived of liberty, versus about five on average in Western Europe.
Nowak said country-specific figures for the U.N. Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, a version of which was released in July, will be published Tuesday. Data came from government and advocacy group statistics.
The U.S. government didn't respond to his team's questionnaire. The U.S. is the only country not to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.