BBC allows Boris Johnson interview on Andrew Marr Show

After terrorist attack broadcaster drops Andrew Neil condition for Marr appearance

Boris Johnson will be interviewed on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, despite him failing to set a date to be interviewed by Andrew Neil, the BBC has announced.

The broadcaster had initially refused to allow the prime minister to appear on Marr’s flagship programme unless he agreed to take part in a 30-minute interview with Neil, as every other party leader had agreed to do.

In a statement, the BBC said that after the terrorist attack on London Bridge, it believed there was a public interest in Johnson appearing on the show, but it repeated its request for him to face Neil.

“As the national public service broadcaster, the BBC’s first priority must be its audience,” the statement said.

“In the wake of a major terrorist incident, we believe it is now in the public interest that the prime minister should be interviewed on our flagship Sunday political programme.

“All parties’ election policy proposals must – and will – face detailed scrutiny from us and we continue to urge Boris Johnson to take part in the primetime Andrew Neil interview as other leaders have done.”

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s candidate for Leicester South, and the Liberal Democrats’ Chuka Umunna are the other guests on the programme. The Guardian’s north of England editor, Helen Pidd, will be among the journalists reviewing Sunday’s newspapers.

Labour candidates accused the BBC of “abject surrender” in allowing Johnson to be interviewed by Marr without agreeing to the Neil interview.

Ben Bradshaw, a Labour former culture secretary and candidate in Exeter, tweeted: “This is a shameful and abject surrender by the BBC management, which will leave professional BBC journalists absolutely horrified and in despair with an organisation where morale is already at rock bottom.”

In a tweet, the Ilford North candidate Wes Streeting said: “I love the BBC and hate the regular attacks on its impartiality and the professionalism of its journalists, particularly when it has some of the very best in the business. But this decision is wrong. The BBC have been played by the Tory leader and shouldn’t dance to his tune.”

Labour had accused Johnson of avoiding Neil, insisting it had agreed to let Jeremy Corbyn appear on the programme in the belief that the prime minister was already signed up.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said: “The reason [Johnson] is doing this is because he thinks, like his Bullingdon friends, that they are above the rest of us, that they don’t need to be held to account, they don’t need to be treated like the rest of us.”

The prime minister also refused to appear on Channel 4 News’s climate change debate on Thursday, where he was replaced with a melting ice sculpture.

In response, the Conservatives complained to the media regulator, Ofcom, about alleged bias; threatened to change the public service remit of Channel 4 if they won the election; and sent their own camera crew to follow Michael Gove, the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, as he attempted to take Johnson’s place on the debate.

ITV will hold its election debate on Sunday evening, featuring the Brexit party leader, Nigel Farage, Jo Swinson of the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National party’s Nicola Sturgeon, Siân Berry, the co-leader of the Green party, and Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price.

Party representatives for Labour and the Conservatives were still to be confirmed, the broadcaster said.

During the debate, from 7pm-9pm, each representative will have one minute for their opening statement and 45sec for a closing statement.


Nadeem Badshah

The GuardianTramp

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