Boris Johnson caves to pressure and agrees to TV debate

PUBLISHED: 13:03 14 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:19 14 June 2019

Former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA.

Former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Boris Johnson, who has been under criticism for avoiding media scrutiny, has said he will take part in the BBC's TV debate - but not Channel 4's, reportedly due to worries about "hostile briefings".

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The politician has so far refused media requests for interviews and had not committed to upcoming debates being televised on the BBC and Channel 4.

Channel 4 had threatened to embarrass him with an empty lectern alongside the six other candidates who have committed to taking part.

After his leadership launch conference, he was accused of Trump-like behaviour for only allowing six journalist questions, and for belittling two journalists who asked him challenging questions.

WATCH: Boris Johnson accused of 'Trumpian tactics' as he kicks off leadership bid

He had said he was "delighted" to hear the boos that his supporters gave Sky News' political editor, Beth Rigby, for her question referring to past comments about Muslim women.

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But he was reminded of the importance of TV debates by his own words, from a ten-month-old interview he gave Rigby.

WATCH: Boris Johnson haunted by his own words on why leadership debates are 'essential'

Now the runaway favourite for Conservative Party leadership has told BBC Radio 4's World At One that he will participate in the BBC TV debate.

"My own observation is that in the past when you've had loads of candidates, it can be slightly cacophonous and I think the public have had quite a lot of blue on blue action frankly over the last three years," he said.

"We don't necessarily need a lot more of that and so what I think the best solution would be would be to have a debate on what we all have to offer the country."

But he won't be taking part in the Channel 4 debate, as his campaign team was concerned about "hostile briefings" made by the Channel 4 team, according to the FT's Sebastian Payne.

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