Rishi Sunak taunts Liz Truss after she snubs interview with Andrew Neil

·2-min read
Rishi Sunak taunts Liz Truss after she snubs interview with  Andrew Neil
Rishi Sunak taunts Liz Truss after she snubs interview with Andrew Neil

LIZ Truss is refusing to be interviewed by the veteran political journalist Andrew Neil in an echo of Boris Johnson dodging a grilling at the 2019 general election.

Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak has agreed to be interviewed by Mr Neil this Friday at 7.30pm on Channel 4.

However the Foreign Secretary said she had “no plans at the moment” to follow suit.

In a swipe at his opponent in the Tory leadership race, Mr Sunak tweeted: “Just me then?” with a winking emoji.

Although Mr Sunak is the more polished media performer of the two, agreeing to the interview may also reflect his urgent need to catch up Ms Truss in the race before ballot papers are issued to the Tory membership in the first days of August.

Mr Neil, a former editor of the Sunday Times, interviewed both the final two Tory hopefuls in the 2019 leadership contest - Mr Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.

In his interview, Mr Johnson came under pressure over his comments about Sir Kim Darroch which were seen as the final straw in his decision to quit as Britain’s ambassador to the US.

Mr Johnson then refused to be interviewed by Mr Neil later that year in the election, leading to accusations he was“running scared” from a half-hour inquisition.

Then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson, Brexit party leader Nigel Farage and the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon all took part in the programmes.

Mr Johnson was further criticised for his avoidance of scrutiny when he dispatched Mr Sunak to take his place in a live televised election debate.

Channel 4 hosted the first TV debate in this Tory leadership race, with more than two million people tuning in last week to see a series of acid exchanges between five contenders.

Louisa Compton, head of news and current affairs and specialist factual and sport at Channel 4, said: “After the success of our first audience debate we’re delighted that Rishi Sunak has confirmed he will be interviewed by Andrew Neil on Channel 4.

“We hope that Liz Truss also now agrees – and allows the British public to better understand what she stands for.”

Mr Sunak has pledged to proceed with the sale of Channel 4 if he succeeds Mr Johnson as PM, saying privatisation would help the broadcaster compete with streaming giants.

Mr Neil’s media career has spanned three decades. He is the chairman and editor-in-chief of Press Holdings Media Group, publishers of The Spectator and other related titles.

He stepped down as the chairman of GB News last year after its shambolic launch, quitting his prime-time show on the network.

He was one of the BBC’s top political broadcasters for many years, presenting This Week, Daily Politics and BBC One’s Sunday Politics.

In his career, he has interviewed world leaders including Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Kofi Annan, Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher.