JO Swinson has threatened to take legal action to ensure she participates in ITV’s leaders’ debate as Nicola Sturgeon challenged Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn to an election head-to-head “anytime, anywhere”.

ITV has announced a live televised debate for November 19 but only between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. Other debates are expected, including ones hosted by the BBC and Sky, but no details have yet been announced.

Surrounded by a group of Liberal Democrat female General Election candidates outside the House of Commons, Ms Swinson told reporters: "As Liberal Democrats we will take any action required to make sure that that voice of Remain is represented in those debates.

"We are taking legal advice and we will pursue legal avenues if ITV do not change their format.”

Decrying an “Establishment stitch-up” by the two “tired old parties” at Westminster, the East Dunbartonshire MP said it was important that not only millions of Remainers had their voice represented to ensure it was a fair debate but also that girls and young women could see that women were able to be political leaders and prime ministers too.

“Why are they so scared of taking on a girly swot?” Ms Swinson asked in a reference to a quip Mr Johnson made in reference to one of his predecessors in Downing St, David Cameron.

Declaring how she was delighted to lead a party that had "50/50 men and women MPs", the Lib Dem leader explained: “It is why we are determined the[TV] debates that take place…about who will be the next prime minister of our country cannot and should not exclude the only woman leader who is able to be the next prime minister.”

The Lib Dems have argued their leader and not Ms Sturgeon should be a part of the leaders’ debates because Ms Swinson is vying to be PM and their party is a UKwide one, rising in the polls. The SNP, by contrast, insist that as the third party at Westminster, their leader should be in any televised leaders’ debates.

Ms Swinson added: "Because I stand as a candidate to be Prime Minister and as the leader of the biggest and strongest party of Remain, it is a nonsense to suggest these debates should go ahead, Leave versus Leave, with no voice for Remain whatsoever.

"The voice of the millions of people who voted to Remain, who want to stop Brexit and stay in the European Union must be heard in those leaders' debates."

Earlier, Ms Sturgeon, campaigning in Rutherglen, where she was joined by SNP candidate Margaret Ferrier, said: “My message to Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson is: 'What are you scared of?' I'll debate one of them, I'll debate both of them, anytime, anywhere.”

She declared: “Bring it on, stop running scared of meaningful debate in this election. The people can see you."

The FM warned broadcasters against "going back in time" by only inviting the leaders of the two largest parties to the debate.

"The population, certainly in Scotland, but across the rest of the UK, is moving away from the two-party system; you've got the broadcasters not only sticking to that but actually going back…because in 2010, 2015 and 2017 they had a different approach to that.

"My message to the broadcasters is make sure that you're reflecting politics as it is and not just how you want it to be."

Her Nationalist colleague Hannah Bardell urged broadcasters not to allow Downing Street to shut out other parties from the debates in a “blatant attempt to rig the election in favour of the Westminster Establishment”.

She pointed to a weekend poll by YouGov which said 53 per cent of those polled wanted the SNP to be included in the debates compared to just 10 per cent who supported plans to restrict them to Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn. In Scotland, the respective numbers were 73 per cent and five per cent,

“The SNP are the third party in the UK, the party of government in Scotland, and the only major party campaigning to stop Brexit and give people in Scotland a choice over their future; it’s no surprise the overwhelming majority of voters in Scotland and across the UK are demanding the SNP be fully included in the TV debates,” insisted Ms Bardell.

“Current polls and past election results suggest the SNP could hold the balance of power after the election; there really is no excuse for narrowing the terms of the debate by shutting the SNP out in a move that smacks of the Westminster bubble forgetting Scotland exists,” added the Livingston MP.