The row between Boris Johnson and Andrew Neil escalated today as the Prime Minister all but ruled out being quizzed by the BBC broadcaster.

A senior Tory source said: “The public are fed up with interviews that are all about the interviewer and endless interruptions.”

But the Corporation’s inquisitor hit back stressing that his interview with Jeremy Corbyn was watched by 3.2 million viewers and that his Twitter clip condemning Mr Johnson for refusing to be interviewed had been viewed more than four million times.

Early this morning, Michael Gove said Mr Johnson was “reviewing and reflecting” on interview requests but a few hours later Tory HQ appeared to rule out him speaking to Mr Neil.

Andrew Neil has directly challenged Boris Johnson (BBC)

The Conservative source added: “The PM will focus on talking to voters about their priorities including investing in our NHS.”

However, all the other main party leaders have done interviews with Mr Neil, who dismissed the source as a “pyramid of piffle” — using one of Mr Johnson’s phrases.

In his clip, the broadcaster stressed the theme of his interview would have been “trust” in the Prime Minister, including whether his promise for 50,000 more nurses, 40 new hospitals and NHS funding should be believed, particularly given his previous pledge to the Democratic Unionist Party that there would be no border down the Irish Sea under Brexit.

“The PM will, at times, have to stand up to President Trump, president Putin, president Xi. So it was surely not expecting too much that he spend half an hour standing up to me,” he added.

Mr Gove faced grilling over the row and refused three times to say, if he was in the Prime Minister’s shoes, whether he would go face-to-face with Mr Neil.

He stressed Mr Johnson had been interviewed more than 100 times during the election campaign and subjected himself to an unprecedented level of scrutiny. “Never before has a Prime Minister gone head-to-head twice with the leader of the opposition during a general election,” he told Sky News.

Pointing to the BBC’s leaders’ debate tonight, he added: “The debate gives people an opportunity to look at Jeremy Corbyn and the Prime Minister.”

The Conservatives also attacked Labour over allowing EU nationals to take part in a second referendum, which Mr Gove said would be changing the rules.

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey insisted: “I don’t think it’s skewing the outcome of a referendum.”

Amid criticism of her election campaign, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson told GMB she was not in politics to be “liked” but to stand up for what she believed in.


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