Boris Johnson accused of 'running scared' from TV interviews

5 December 2019, 21:10 | Updated: 5 December 2019, 21:19

Mr Johnson has been accused of "running scared" from an ITV interview
Mr Johnson has been accused of "running scared" from an ITV interview. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Labour have accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of "running scared" from scrutiny after failing to appear on multiple TV interviews.

Broadcaster ITV confirmed Mr Johnson had refused its request to be given the chance to grill him during a televised leader's interview.

Heads of all the other main British political parties have agreed to appear on the show, however the prime minister's team confirmed on Thursday he would not take part in an interview with newsreader Julie Etchingham.

The chairman of the Labour Party, Ian Lavery, accused the Tory leader of thinking "he's born to rule and doesn't have to face scrutiny."

"He's running scared because every time he is confronted with the impact of nine years of austerity, the cost of living crisis and his plans to sell out our NHS, the more he is exposed," he said.

The ITV News team claimed to have made a bid for the prime minister "when the election was called" and have contacted him "on repeated occasions with times and dates offered" in order to conduct an interview.

"Boris Johnson's team have today confirmed he will not be taking part," an ITV spokesman said.

A 30-minute programme was penned in for 8pm on Friday evening, but will be replaced by another show in a different format to the other leadership interviews.

The Tory leader has failed to appear on a number of TV debates
The Tory leader has failed to appear on a number of TV debates. Picture: PA

"The programme will instead feature a profile of the Prime Minister using fresh interviews with other contributors and archive footage," the spokesman added.

The Conservative Party has been approached for comment.

Boris Johnson also refused to set a date for an interview with the BBC's Andrew Neil, despite his election rivals agreeing to face a grilling from the former Sunday Times editor.

In addition, the prime minister failed to appear on a Channel 4 climate change debate. He and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage were empty-chaired and instead replaced by melting ice sculptures.

"It is not too late. We have an interview prepared. Oven-ready, as Mr Johnson likes to say," Mr Neil said.

Jeremy Corbyn's interview on ITV put the Labour leader in hot water after he inadvertently highlighted that he did not watch the Queen's annual televised Christmas message.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson broke down in tears on the programme when discussing the death of her father who passed away a year before she was elected as party leader.

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