You melts! Channel 4 confirms plan to replace Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage with ICE SCULPTURES after they declined to take part in a live TV climate change debate as relations between Tories and the broadcaster get even frostier
- Channel 4 invited party leaders to take part in climate change debate tonight
- But Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage are expected to snub the election event
- Tories had offered Michael Gove to take part instead of PM but offer rejected
- Broadcaster now reportedly considering putting an ice sculpture of PM on stage
Frosty relations between Channel 4 and the Tories are poised to go sub zero after the broadcaster confirmed Boris Johnson will be replaced by an ice sculpture after he snubbed a climate change debate.
The Brexit Party’s absent leader Nigel Farage will also be substituted for a frozen water installation after he also rejected an invitation to tonight’s live programme.
Channel 4 invited all the main political party leaders to take part in the election showdown on tackling the climate emergency.
But Mr Johnson is not expected to take part because of SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s involvement.
The PM has said he will not take participate in any debates with Ms Sturgeon in the run up to December 12 on the grounds that she is not standing to be an MP.
The Tories are believed to have put forward Michael Gove, the minister for the Cabinet Office, as a potential replacement for Mr Johnson.
But that offer has been shot down and the broadcaster this afternoon confirmed their chilly stand-ins.
Channel 4 news editor Ben de Pear said: ‘These two ice sculptures represent the emergency on planet earth, not in any human form but are a visual metaphor for the Conservative & Brexit parties after their leaders declined our repeated invitations to attend tonight’s vital climate debate.’
How it could look: Jeremy Corbyn, Ms Sturgeon and Jo Swinson are all due to take part in tonight’s debate
Boris Johnson, pictured today in Devon, is expected to snub tonight’s Channel 4 News debate on climate change
Mr Johnson does not want to take part in any debates which feature Nicola Sturgeon, pictured in Glasgow yesterday, on the grounds she is not standing for election
An invitation remains open to Mr Johnson as well as to Nigel Farage, the Brexit Party leader, who is also not expected to attend.
It remains unclear whether Mr Farage would get his own ice sculpture.
The practice of ’empty chairing’ politicians who fail to turn up to debates is well known but putting an ice sculpture on stage would take things to a whole new level.
The row between the Tories and Channel 4 over tonight’s debate comes after a senior executive at the broadcaster used a speech back in August this year to accuse Mr Johnson of being a ‘known liar’.
Those comments sparked fury inside 10 Downing Street with senior Tory figures deeply sceptical that the broadcaster would treat Mr Johnson fairly at an event like the one this evening.
A Channel 4 News spokeswoman did not deny that the ice sculpture plan is under consideration.
The spokeswoman said: ‘The clock is ticking. The ice caps are melting. Our invitation to the Prime Minister remains open until 7pm tonight.’
The Tories are thought to have put forward Michael Gove, pictured in Norfolk yesterday, for tonight’s debate but Channel 4 has shot down the offer
As things stand, the hour-long Emergency On Planet Earth debate will feature Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, Ms Sturgeon, Plaid Cymru’s leader Adam Price and Green co-leader Sian Berry.
Asked yesterday whether a Conservative minister, such as Mr Gove, could attend instead of Mr Johnson, a spokeswoman for Channel 4 News said: ‘Michael Gove is not the party leader.’
The leaders who do attend this evening are likely to face questions over the level of ambition and feasibility in their plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the UK to zero overall, and the date they have pledged to achieve it by.