Jeremy Hunt challenges Boris Johnson to face him in head-to-head TV debates
Jeremy Hunt has called on his Conservative leadership rival Boris Johnson to face him in televised debates, as he declared: "If you want the job, you have to turn up for the interviews.”
In an open letter to Mr Johnson, the Foreign Secretary said he was prepared accept requests to attend live debates from all the major broadcasters, and suggested that local media outlets could also host smaller events.
And he said: “After each hustings, let’s mirror that with a live debate on local media that the public can listen to. I can spare half an hour to meet the public and I’m sure you can too.
"Neither Gordon Brown nor Theresa May were tested in this way before they took the top job and many think it would have been much better for the country if they had.
"The stakes are too high to allow that to happen again."
He continued: “Scrutiny can be uncomfortable. But if we can’t handle it with friends, we won’t deserve to lead against our opponents.”
Mr Johnson has already agreed to take part in a televised debate with ITV on 9 July and a debate with The Sun that will be streamed online in the week beginning 15 July.
Both, however, take place after Conservative Party members receive their ballots.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Hunt said: “The first thing Boris did after the result was announce he would challenge me to a debate on ITV. I thought ‘fantastic, we’re going to have a really good debate’.
“Then I looked at the dates. And that ITV debate is not until after a lot of people have actually sent their votes back.”
Mr Hunt also goaded the former London mayor, saying Mr Johnson was “bottling all opportunities to have a public head-to-head debate before ballot papers are sent out."
Sky News presenter Kay Burley tweeted on Friday that she was ready to chair a debate between the two leadership hopefuls next week, but said Mr Johnson had efused to take part.
She said: “The set’s built, the Tory supporting audience primed. Are you really going to let them and YOUR country down, Boris?”