BBC does a U-turn and says Boris Johnson WILL be allowed to appear on the Andrew Marr Show tomorrow despite refusing a grilling from Andrew Neil after the presenter’s demolition of Jeremy Corbyn
- BBC and Tories were locked in a row over when the PM will be interviewed
- Boris Johnson had offered to appear on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday
- Broadcaster reportedly said no unless the PM agrees to grilling by Andrew Neil
- They have now relented in the wake of yesterday’s London Bridge terror attack
Boris Johnson will be interviewed on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, but has still not agreed to a grilling from the broadcaster’s veteran Andrew Neil.
The BBC’s decision to schedule the interview with Marr when the Prime Minister has still not committed to sitting down with Neil – who Jeremy Corbyn faced last week – has been branded ‘wrong’ and ‘shameful’.
But in a statement today, the corporation said: ‘As the national public service broadcaster, the BBC’s first priority must be its audience.
Boris Johnson, pictured at the scene in London Bridge today, has agreed to do a sit down interview with Andrew Marr
‘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 prime-time Andrew Neil interview as other leaders have done.’
The BBC said it was in the ‘public interest’ for Boris Johnson to be interviewed by Andrew Marr in the wake of yesterday’s attack
The Tories were believed to be resisting requests for the PM to be interviewed by Mr Neil after Jeremy Corbyn’s car crash clash with the veteran presenter earlier this week.
Labour candidates have accused the BBC of ‘abject surrender’ in allowing the Prime Minister to be interviewed by Marr without agreeing to an interview with Neil.
Ben Bradshaw, a former Labour culture secretary and candidate in Exeter, tweeted: ‘This is a shameful & 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, 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.’
A BBC source had told the Independent website: ‘The BBC has refused the offer to put the prime minister on the Andrew Marr programme until he agrees a date for Andrew Neil.’
Labour accused Mr Johnson of ‘running scared’ of Mr Neil due to his continued refusal to commit to a pre-December 12 date for an interview.
Ben Bradshaw, a former Labour culture secretary and candidate in Exeter, said it was ‘shameful’ the BBC had reversed its decision
It was thought Mr Neil was going to conduct one-on-one interviews with all of the main political party leaders in the run up to polling day.
But ever since Mr Corbyn’s appearance the Tories cooled on the idea until the agreement announced today.
Mr Johnson was asked about the row yesterday and said: ‘I’m much happier frankly to talk about my policies, what we’re doing for the people of this country rather than endless debates about media and process.
The Tories were believed to be resisting requests for the PM to be interviewed by Mr Neil after Jeremy Corbyn ‘s car crash clash
‘We’ve already talked quite a lot about a Channel 4 debate rather than talking about climate change.’
Mr Johnson snubbed a Channel 4 debate on climate change last night as the broadcaster replaced him on stage with an ice sculpture.
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, today claimed the BBC was being ‘played’ by Mr Johnson.
He said: ‘The reason he is doing it is because he thinks like, you know, his Bullingdon Club friends, that they’re above the rest of us.
‘That they don’t need to be held to account. They don’t need to treated like the rest of us. And so what he’s doing now is he’s avoiding, he’s running scared.
‘Because he knows that Andrew Neil will take him apart. He’s running scared. But even if he does it now, he’s played you because he’s pushing it later and later beyond the postal vote returns.’
Mr Neil is due to interview Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage next week.
He has already interviewed Mr Corbyn and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon.
Mr Corbyn’s appearance dominated the headlines as he repeatedly refused to apologise over his handling of the Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis.
He also stumbled over how he would pay for all of Labour’s spending plans.