Boris Johnson has been branded “pathetic” following reports he is set to avoid an interview with Andrew Neil.
The Prime Minister looks set to avoid an encounter with the BBC journalist, who has conducted tough interviews with other party leaders including Jeremy Corbyn.
BuzzFeed News’s Alex Wickham has reported that a senior Tory source said Mr Johnson will instead “focus on talking to voters about their priorities”.
The BBC drew criticism last week after it aired Jeremy Corbyn’s interview, viewed as a “car crash” TV appearance, before Mr Johnson had confirmed he would face Mr Neil.
The journalist grilled Mr Corbyn on anti-semitism and tax and spending plans in an excruciating half-hour interview.
Jo Swinson apologised for voting through the bedroom tax under the coalition government as Andrew Neil questioned her.
“I am sorry about that. It was one of the things that we did get wrong,” she said.
“We did spend five years in a coalition government where clearly we didn’t win every battle against the Conservatives.
Labour politician David Lammy was critical of Mr Johnson’s move.
Mr Neil addressed Mr Johnson’s inability to set a date for an interview with him after his interrogation of Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage concluded yesterday evening.
Speaking to viewers, he said: “There is no law, no Supreme Court ruling, that can force Mr Johnson to participate in a BBC leaders' interview.
“But the prime minister of our nation will, at times, have to stand up to President Trump, President Putin, President Xi of China. So it was surely not expecting too much that he spend half an hour standing up to me.”
The BBC and the Conservative press team have been contacted for comment.