Boris Johnson accused of 'running scared' after failing to agree date for Andrew Neil interview with BBC

Veteran interrogator has already given Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon a grilling

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
@andywoodcock
Wednesday 27 November 2019 17:01
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Jeremy Corbyn refuses in a TV interview with Andrew Neil to apologise for his handling of antisemitism

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been accused of "running scared" of an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil, after it emerged that he is the only major party leader not to agree a date for a grilling.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the PM was seeking to delay his inquisition until after the period when the bulk of postal votes are expected to be cast in the coming week.

And Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon tweeted an emoji of a chicken.

The BBC said they had “not yet been able to fix a date” for the proposed encounter – one of a series of planned interviews with party leaders which last night saw Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn subjected to a bruising interrogation on his tax plans, Brexit and his handling of antisemitism allegations.

A Downing Street source said that no interview date had been confirmed, and Mr Johnson’s team were still “in discussions” with the BBC.

Former Sunday Times editor Neil, who is renowned as the fiercest and most forensic interviewer in UK political journalism, has already conducted half-hour interviews with Mr Corbyn and Ms Sturgeon.

Three more editions of the Andrew Neil Interviews were initially scheduled for next week, and the BBC today announced that Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson would be interviewed on Wednesday next week and the Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage on Thursday.

As debate raged about Mr Corbyn’s performance in last night’s debate, BBC News said in a tweet: “For those asking when Boris Johnson’s interview will take place, we’re in ongoing discussions with his team but we haven’t yet been able to fix a date.”

Mr McDonnell responded: "Johnson’s running scared after his disastrous debate performances. But he’s playing the BBC. He’s delaying the interview past the main postal vote period.

"With doctored film and now this, the BBC is hardly covering itself in glory in this election. It should’ve fixed all dates in advance.

In a tweet directed at the BBC, the co-founder of Novara Media, Aaron Bastani, said: “You shouldn’t be doing any of these until all the leaders have confirmed.

“If he doesn’t do it this is another political mess for the BBC. Why undermine yourselves like this?”

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