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General election: Tories complain as Johnson replaced by ice sculpture in TV debate | Politics News

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A row has erupted between Channel 4 and the Conservatives after the broadcaster used an ice sculpture in place of Boris Johnson when he didn’t turn up to their leaders’ debate on climate issues.

Podiums reserved for Mr Johnson and the Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage have been replaced by ice sculptures which are melting in the studio while five other leaders – from Labour, the Lib Dems, the Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP – set out their positions on the climate emergency.

The Tories have written to Ofcom, the broadcast regulator, to claim Channel 4’s decision is in breach of the Broadcasting Code.

Leaders are debating climate change, with the exception of  the Conservatives and Brexit Party
Image:
Leaders are debating climate change, with the exception of the Conservatives and Brexit Party

Channel 4 says it invited all party leaders to the studio debate and that the Brexit Party and the Conservatives failed to put up their leaders.

The Tories say they offered Michael Gove – the party’s former environment secretary – and said there was precedent for senior party figures standing in for leaders during debates. At a BBC debate during the 2017 campaign, Andrea Leadsom represented the Conservatives instead of Theresa May.

RETRANSMITTED ADDING EMBARGO EMBARGOED TO 1900 THURSDAY NOVEMBER 28 An ice sculpture is put in place for Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the studio before the start of the Channel 4 News' General Election climate debate at ITN Studios in Holborn, central London.
Image:
The sculpture representing the Brexit Party

The letter to Ofcom, written in advance of the broadcast, says: “It has even been reported that Channel 4 has commissioned an ice sculpture of the prime minister to represent the Conservative Party.

“Were this the case, this would represent a significant breach of the Code through such a provocative partisan stunt, which would itself constitute making a political opinion in its own right.”

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The letter was written to Ofcom by Lee Cain – a former journalist who used to dress up as a chicken while he worked at the Mirror to shame leaders like David Cameron for his reluctance to answer questions on the campaign trail.

BuzzFeed reports that the Conservatives are now considering holding a review of Channel 4’s public service broadcast obligations following the stunt.

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