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16th Jun 2019

Boris Johnson fails to show up for Channel 4’s Tory leadership debate leaving an empty lectern on stage

James Dawson

Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid and Rory Stewart all showed up

Boris Johnson has refused to show up to the Channel 4-hosted Conservative leadership contest debate leaving an empty lectern left on stage by the broadcaster.

The 90-minute debate, presented by Kristian Guru-Murthy, is the first of a number of planned hustings of the six Tory leadership candidates, seeing a number of swing-voters asking questions of the candidates.

Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid and Rory Stewart all appeared on Sunday night, however, Boris Johnson did not feature, having previously declined the invitation, though he will attend the BBC’s planned showdown.

Speaking in a video link to Channel 4 News ahead of the debate beginning, host Krishnan Guru-Murphy said there was “still time” for Johnson to get a “taxi from North London”.

“Boris Johnson has declined to take part in this debate,” he added.

Eleven Tory MPs were initially in the running to replace Theresa May as party leader and prime minister, with the numbers now cut down to an all-male slate of six.

The process of selection sees Conservative MPs whittle the number of participants down to two, with the two candidates then being put to a ballot of the party’s grassroots membership.

The front-runner in the contest remains Boris Johnson, who is a favourite with the party’s membership and was backed by the most MPs in the first round of voting.