Pressure grows on Boris Johnson as Tory rivals accuse him of hiding from scrutiny

Posted On: 
11th June 2019

Boris Johnson has come under pressure in the Tory leadership contest after his rivals accused him of failing to face up to public scrutiny.

Boris Johnson is followed by media after leaving the Cabinet Office in Westminster, in March
Credit: 
PA Images

The current frontrunner has been largely out of the spotlight since the race to succeed Theresa May got under way in recent weeks.

Rivals Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Matt Hancock, Andrea Leadsom, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey and Mark Harper have formally launched their campaigns to become the next PM.

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Rory Stewart is due to mount his pitch on Tuesday evening, while Sajid Javid will follow suit on Wednesday.

Ten candidates won enough support from MPs to make it through to the first ballot, with several rounds of voting to take place until the final two candidates are put to the Tory membership.

A host of TV debates have been lined up by major broadcasters, however not all of the candidates have confirmed whether they are prepared to take part.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, told Radio 4's Today programme: “I certainly think that everybody who puts their name forward to be Prime Minister should be open to scrutiny, should be accountable, should come on the Today programme and other broadcast programmes.

"Everybody should participate in the proposed TV debates, and I think that we've got to ask the question: why not? So come and have this discussion ... that is the best way to ensure we get the best next Prime Minister."

Former Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom told an event in Westminster that there should be no repeat of the 2016 contest, which ended with her pulling out of the race to hand the top job to Theresa May.

"People need to see who the leadership candidates are and they have to be properly scrutinised," she said. "Everybody regrets it didn’t happen last time.

"We need to ensure there are proper hustings and opportunities to look at the candidates."

Meanwhile Mark Harper, who is seen as an outsider in the race, told journalists at his campaign launch that MPs "had to be prepared to set out your stall".

"I think you have to open yourself up to questioning," he said. "And you have to be prepared to level with people about the challenges. And I think you have to be prepared to be questioned about it.

“We’ve had a general election two years ago when I think the Prime Minister demonstrated that she wasn’t as good at campaigning as we all hoped she would be."

He added that the contest was a "massive opportunity" for the candidates to demonstrate that they "can answer questions and deal with challenges from the public".