Boris Johnson will be interviewed on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show tomorrow, despite the Prime Minister’s failure to set a date to be grilled by Andrew Neil.
The broadcaster had initially banned Johnson from appearing on the Sunday morning show until he agreed to a 30-minute primetime interview with Neil, as the other party leaders have done.
But the BBC today said it has dropped this condition in light of the terrorist attack that killed two people at London Bridge yesterday.
“As the national public service broadcaster, the BBC’s first priority must be to its audience,” the corporation said in a statement.
“In the wake of a major terrorist incident, we believe it is now in the public interest that the Prime Minister should be interviewed on our flagship Sunday political programme.”
It added: “All parties’ election policy proposals must – and will – face detailed scrutiny from us and we continue to urge Boris Johnson to take part in the primetime Andrew Neil interview as other leaders have done.”
The decision sparked a backlash from Labour MP Wes Streeting, who branded it “wrong”.
“The BBC have been played by the Tory leader and shouldn’t dance to his tune,” he wrote in a tweet.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has also accused Boris Johnson of “playing” the BBC by refusing to appear on Neil’s show.
“The reason he is doing this is because he thinks, like his Bullingdon friends, that they are above the rest of us, that they don’t need to be held to account, they don’t need to be treated like the rest of us,” he told the BBC’s Today programme yesterday.
Johnson has agreed to other TV debates during the run-up to the General Election, including last week’s Question Time special.
But he declined to appear on Channel 4’s climate change debate this week, leading to the broadcaster empty-chairing him with an ice sculpture in his place. As a result, the Tory party complained to Ofcom about Channel 4’s alleged lack of impartiality.
Jeremy Corbyn’s interview with Neil generated criticism of the Labour leader after he admitted his party’s tax plans would hit lower earners.