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”.
Johnson confirms he is rejecting Neil interview— Alex Wickham (@alexwickham) December 6, 2019
Senior Con source: “The public are fed up with interviews that are all about the interviewer and endless interruptions. The format is tired and broken and needs to change if it is to start engaging and informing the public again.”
Instead of facing @afneil... “The PM will focus on talking to voters about their priorities including investing in our NHS and helping with the cost of living.” Tories say Johnson has done 117 interviews during the campaign, Marr and two head-to-heads with Corbyn— Alex Wickham (@alexwickham) December 6, 2019
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.
The public is not fed up of interviews. It's fed up of being lied to. Boris Johnson ducking out of the leaders' interviews is truly pathetic. He is breaking the public's trust yet again. https://t.co/3xF6BXxg7x— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) December 6, 2019
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.”
“It is not too late. We have an interview prepared. Oven-ready, as Mr Johnson likes to say”— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) December 5, 2019
Andrew Neil issues a challenge for Boris Johnson to commit to an interview with him, to face questions on why people have “deemed him to be untrustworthy”https://t.co/daHLxEYn4r pic.twitter.com/oQ21uDdtJe
The BBC and the Conservative press team have been contacted for comment.