Conservatives confirm Boris Johnson will not face Andrew Neil with attack on 'broken' interview format
Boris Johnson will not be interviewed by Andrew Neil before the general election, it has been confirmed.
Tory insiders said the Prime Minister would instead "focus on talking to voters" rather than face the BBC's top political interrogator.
And they launched a bitter attack on the "broken" interview format, which they said was failing to "inform the public".
The move comes after Mr Neil delivered a stinging on-air rebuke to Mr Johnson for refusing to submit himself to a half-hour grilling in the same way other political leaders have done.
In a three-minute monologue delivered straight to camera, he said: "The Prime Minister of our nation will at times have to stand up to President Trump, President Putin, President Xi of China. So we're surely not expecting too much that he spend half an hour standing up to me."
But a senior Conservative source hit back: "The public are fed up with interviews that are all about the interviewer and endless interruptions. The format is broken and needs to change if it is to start engaging and informing the public again
"The PM will focus on talking to voters about people’s priorities including investing in our NHS and helping with the cost of living."
Mr Johnson has also turned down the chance to be interviewed by ITV's Julie Etchingham.
However, the Tories insisted that during the election campaign, the Prime Minister has done 117 interviews, head-to-head debates with Boris Johnson, radio phone-ins and been interviewed by Andrew Marr.
He is also due to appear on Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Sky's flagship political programme, this weekend.
Liberal Democrat peputy leader Ed Davey said: "Boris Johnson has bottled it. First he ducked Donald Trump now he’s avoiding Andrew Neil.
"The public will rightly see Boris Johnson as the coward he is, for failing to be held accountable in the same way as the other party leaders.
"How can we expect Johnson to stand up for the UK abroad when he’s chickening out of TV interviews at home?"