Monday , April 19 2021

General election 2019: Row over Boris Johnson debate 'empty chair' – BBC News, BBC News


                                 Jo Swinson, Nicola Sturgeon, Adam Price, Jeremy Corbyn and Sian Berry, stand next to ice sculptures representing the Brexit Party and Conservative Party at ITN Studios in Holborn on November 28, 2019 in London, England.Image copyright                 Getty Images                                                  

The Conservative Party is embroiled in a row with Channel 4 over the broadcaster’s decision to “empty chair” Boris Johnson during its election debate on climate change last night .

Minister Michael Gove offered to take his place, but the broadcaster said the invitation was for leaders only.

The party wrote to Ofcom saying placing an ice sculpture on the PM’s podium was a “provocative partisan stunt”.

Labor has accused Mr Johnson of “hiding from scrutiny”.

Urging the regulator to take action against Channel 4, the Conservative Party accused the broadcaster of breaking its duty to be impartial and citing other alleged examples of bias.

In a letter to Ofcom, the party says Channel 4 News staged a “provocative partisan stunt, which would itself constitute making a political opinion in its own right” by substituting the PM with an ice sculpture.

Conservative sources also briefed journalistsat BuzzFeed News

andthe Telegraphthat “if we are re-elected we will have to review Channel 4’s Public Services Broadcasting obligations “.

Channel 4’s public service broadcasting license is up for renewal in 2024.

Labor’s deputy leader Tom Watson said it was “deeply concerning for Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party to threaten Channel 4 in this way”.

                                                                                                      Image copyright                 PA Media                                                      
Image caption                                    Channel 4 replaced Boris Johnson with an ice sculpture which slowly melted during the debate                             

Mr Watson has written to Ofcom to urge the regulator to “call out this meddling “.

His letter adds:” Boris Johnson has banned the Daily Mirror from its battle bus, ducked the Andrew Neil interview and now attempted to bully Channel 4. “

Mr Gove, a former environment secretary, said he was disappointed not to be allowed to take part in the climate debate, adding: “We have a record we are proud of and we want to defend.”

Channel 4 also replaced Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage with ice in the hour-long program.

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 and Brexit parties after their leaders declined our repeated invitations to attend tonight’s vital climate debate. “

The Emergency On Planet Earth debate featured Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, Plaid Cymru’s leader Adam Price and Green co-leader Sian Berry.

“Empty chairing” is where a debate or interview is conducted without one of its participants.

‘Hiding from scrutiny’

Meanwhile, Labor has published 60 questions it wants Boris Johnson to answer, including on sexism, the NHS, Brexit and his ministers.

The party has accused Mr Johnson of “hiding from scrutiny” and its questions include: “Are you scared of Andrew Neil?”

On Thursday, Mr Johnson refused to say whether he would agree to an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil, who has already grilled Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, and is planning to interview other party leaders.

When asked several times by the BBC’s Ben Wright if he would take part, Boris Johnson would not confirm it, saying he would have “all sorts of interviews with all sorts of people”.


Media playback is unsupported on your device




Media captionWatch: Boris Johnson refuses to commit to Andrew Neil interview

Mr Johnson – who was interviewed by Mr Neil during the Conservative leadership election in July – confirmed negotiations were still taking place, but he said it was “not my job” to make the final decision.

He added: “Other people than me are responsible for those discussions and negotiations, and I do not want to pre-empt what they may decide.”

SNP leader Nicola SturgeonandLabor leader Jeremy Corbyntook part in 30 – minute interviews with Mr Neil earlier this week.

The BBC’s interview with Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson is set to air on 4 December and another with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage will be shown on 5 December.

The BBC said it was “in ongoing discussions” with No 10, but said they had not “yet been able to fix a date “for the sit-down discussion between presenter Mr Neil and the PM.

Meanwhile, aBBC seven -way election debate takes place laterfeaturing senior figures from the Conservatives, Labor, the Brexit Party, the Green Party, as well as the leaders of Plaid Cymru, the SNP, and Lib Dems


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