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BBC backs down in interview standoff with Boris Johnson in wake of terror attack

“We believe it is now in the public interest that the Prime Minister should be interviewed.”

Boris Johnson being interviewed by Andrew Marr in December 2016
Boris Johnson being interviewed by Andrew Marr in December 2016
Image: Victoria Jones via PA Images

THE BBC HAS confirmed that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be allowed to appear on the Andrew Marr Show in the wake of yesterday’s London Bridge terror attack

Initially, the BBC had reportedly told Johnson that he would not be allowed to go on the Andrew Marr Show unless he agreed to face Andrew Neil too. 

Johnson was said to be reluctant to be interviewed by Neil after his questioning of Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Johnson offered to appear on Marr’s programme, but the broadcaster turned him down because he would not submit himself to examination by Neil, The Daily Telegraph reported.

A BBC source told The Daily Telegraph: “He won’t be doing Marr until we have confirmed and announced a date for the Neil interview.”

“We can’t take a Sunday morning programme which is already balanced in its own right as being in mitigation against not doing Neil. Andrew Neil is our priority,” another source at the broadcaster said.

However, in the wake of yesterday’s London Bridge terror attack, in which two members of the public were killed, the BBC has confirmed that Johnson will, in fact, be interviewed on Marr’s show. 

“As the national public service broadcaster, the BBC’s first priority must be its audience. In the way of a major terror incident, we believe it is now in the public interest that the Prime Minister should be interviewed on our flagship Sunday political programme,” the broadcaster said in a statement. 

“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.” 

Yesterday, LBC radio’s Nick Ferrari asked Johnson if he would be interviewed by Neil, however, the prime minister dodged the question. 

Johnson replied: “What people really want to hear is, what are we doing to take the UK forward?” 

Cancelled campaigning

Meanwhile, Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have both taken a step back from General Election campaigning in the wake of the attack. 

The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have all cancelled campaign events as a result of yesterday’s events. 

Prime Minister Johnson was due to campaign in the capital today but is understood to have cancelled his planned events following the attack.

Labour, meanwhile, has scrapped an “NHS summit” which was due to be held in Yorkshire, and the Liberal Democrats will no longer go ahead with their Stop Brexit rally in London.

Both Labour and the Tories cancelled campaigning in the capital yesterday evening, and Johnson and Labour leader Corbyn were understood to have spoken by phone following the incident.

Includes reporting by Press Association 

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