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Sky News postpones debate as Boris Johnson fails to reply to invitation | Politics News



Sky News has postponed a planned leadership debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.

The head-to-head live broadcast was due to take place on Tuesday night – and although Mr Hunt had agreed to take part, Mr Johnson has so far declined the invitation.

Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson during the first party hustings at the ICC in Birmingham

Johnson needs to answer ‘difficult questions’

A Sky spokesman said: “We stand ready to host a debate tomorrow evening if both candidates make themselves available.

“Without both candidates, tomorrow’s debate will not take place.

“But we will reissue our invitation for Mr Hunt and Mr Johnson to debate live on Sky News next Monday, July 1.”

In an earlier interview with Sky News’ Sunrise programme, Mr Hunt said he was prepared to carry on with the event, held in front of an audience of Conservative voters, with an empty chair for his opponent.

Mr Hunt called Mr Johnson a “coward” in a piece for The Times today, saying his opponent had to answer questions about his plans in office.

He wrote: “Only then can you walk through the front door of No 10 with your head held high instead of slinking through the back door, which is what Boris appears to want.”

Jeremy Hunt: 'This won't be a PM that will last'

Jeremy Hunt says Boris Johnson’s refusal to answer questions or take part in some debates could take its toll if he were to become PM.

He added: “Don’t be a coward Boris, man up and show the nation you can cope with the intense scrutiny the most difficult job in the country will involve.”

He also said Mr Johnson was disrespecting Conservative Party membership by not turning up to as many debates.

Mr Hunt spoke to Sky News this morning to challenge Mr Johnson to turn up, before the decision was taken by the broadcaster not to host a head to head debate with one candidate.

He had said: “My worry is that Boris has got a coalition of people like Matt Hancock who wants no deal off the table and Mark Francois who wants no deal – that coalition is going to dissolve quickly when you have to make decisions.

“In politics you can sometimes fudge, but on Brexit you can’t.”

On Sunday, Mr Hunt told Sky News that he thought any candidate for prime minister needs to show he can answer “difficult questions”.

He said: “What Boris needs to do is to engage properly in this leadership debate, not to shy away from the Sky News live debate that’s scheduled for Tuesday evening, which he’s been invited to [and] I’ve said I’m willing to go to.

“This is an audition to be prime minister of the United Kingdom, and Boris needs to show that he’s prepared to answer difficult questions.”

Mr Johnson’s supporters came out in force on Monday morning, following a weekend where campaigning was overshadowed by revelations that police were called to the south London flat he has been sharing with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds, after neighbours heard screaming.

Boris Johnson refuses to address an alleged row with his girlfriend at Tory hustings.

Priti Patel MP said the matter was “done and dusted” and that it was a private issue.

She told Sky News’ Sunrise that people had lost sight of the big challenges the country faced by focusing on the row between the couple.

Ms Patel also said the leadership candidate had been out campaigning and speaking to grassroots members of the party, while citing his appearance at a BBC debate show and at the first party hustings.

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