EAST Lancashire’s Tory MPs have backed plans for a live TV debate for the leadership candidates before the final party members’ vote.

The BBC announced last night it will hold two televised debates with candidates vying to become the next prime minister.

Ten Conservative MPs have entered the race to become both party leader and PM so far, after Theresa May announced she would stand down on 7 June.

All the candidates in the race by mid-June will be invited to take part in a hustings event on BBC One.

While neither Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans or Pendle counterpart Andrew Stephenson would say who they will back to be the new Prime Minster, both made clear they would only support a candidate committed to Brexit taking place by the October 31 deadline.

Candidates currently include leading Brexit campaigners Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey and Dominic Raab.

Tory MPs will whittle the initial list of candidates to two in a series of votes. The Conservative Party membership will choose the winner in July.

Mr Evans said: “I think there should be a live terrestrial TV debate. Not every member will be able to get to hustings and this will show how the final candidates perform under pressure on TV which is so important in modern politics.

“It would also give the public at large the chance to assess the candidates.

“As an executive of the 1922 Committee, I cannot say who I support but the new leader must be someone who strongly supports Brexit and is prepared to leave the EU without a deal if necessary.”

Mr Stephenson said: “I think a TV debate is a very good idea to show off the candidates to the Conservative Party membership and the nation. I have not decided who I will back for the leadership. My choice would have to be someone who originally supported Leave in the 2016 referendum campaign such as Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab or Esther McVey.”

Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry is backing Mr Johnson, whose aborted leadership bid in 2016 he supported.

Hyndburn Labour MP Graham Jones said: “Does Nigel not think his party has inflicted enough Brexit misery on us without a TV debate?”