Ian Payne 4pm - 7pm
"Invitation Remains Open" To Boris Johnson For Channel 4 Tory Leadership Debate
16 June 2019, 17:17 | Updated: 16 June 2019, 17:29
The host of Channel 4's Tory leadership debate tells LBC the invitation for Boris Johnson to appear "remains open", after the contest frontrunner said he would not attend.
Krishnan Guru-Murthy told Ian Payne the invitation for Boris Johnson to debate the other 5 leadership hopefuls "remains open".
The former Foreign Secretary appeared to bow to increasing pressure to commit to participating in a debate by the BBC next week, but is expected to not attend one hosted by Channel 4.
"The invitation remains open for Mr Johnson to come, but as far as we know, so far he's not coming," Mr Guru-Murthy said.
"We all know Boris Johnson can take up a lot of intellectual space in a group discussion and not having him there is going to free up a lot of time for the others."
Mr Guru-Murthy said the debate would involve taking questions from an audience that will ask the candidates about Brexit and other "big issues" that affect the country.
"They will each get one of those questions to answer first, they will all get a say on the big questions, we'll have a free debate between them and I'll be clarifying and following up the questions myself," he said.
But when Ian put to the host whether a previous interview was behind Mr Johnson's reason for not attending, Mr Guru-Murthy said: "He knows he's the frontrunner at the moment, and he knows that if he waits a few more days then it's likely people like Rory Stewart, his biggest critic, or Dominic Raab, his biggest Brexiteer rival, could be knocked out.
"It'll definitely be easier for him when he does finally face a debate, and I suspect that's the biggest factor.
"He probably fears his rivals more than he fears me."