Jeremy Hunt said that Boris Johnson wants to get into No.10 by ‘slinking through the back door’ if he refuses to take Hunt up on the offer of a televised debate.
Hunt has urged both the BBC and Sky to stage head-to-head TV debates between the two leadership hopefuls within the next two weeks, before ballot papers go out in the Conservative leadership contest.
“I hope the BBC will have a proper debate in the next two weeks. I hope that if Boris doesn’t turn up they will have an empty chair,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“The way to earn that trust with Conservative party members and with the country is to subject yourself to scrutiny, to answer questions about what you actually want to do,” he said.
“Only then can you walk through the front door of No 10 with your head held high instead of slinking through the back door, which is what Boris appears to want.”
Hunt said it was “very disrespectful” to refuse head-to-head debates or tough media interviews before the ballot.
Rather than accepting a debate, Johnson used his weekly column in the Daily Telegraph to reaffirm his commitment to delivering Brexit by the end of October in an apparent attempt to refocus attention away from his private life.
Johnson has been under pressure to explain why police were called to his home when neighbours overheard a loud row between Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds.
READ: Police called to home of Boris Johnson after neighbours heard screamsIn his column, for which he receives £275,000 a year from the Telegraph, Johnson wrote that leaving the EU on October 31 would “focus the minds of EU negotiators”.
He wrote: “We must leave the EU on October 31 come what may. It will honour the referendum result, it will focus the minds of EU negotiators.
“This time we are not going to shrink in fear from the exit, as we have on the last two occasions,” he wrote.