25 July 2022

Rishi Sunak agrees to Andrew Neil TV interview while Liz Truss declines

25 July 2022

Tory leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak has agreed to be interviewed by veteran political journalist Andrew Neil, while his rival Liz Truss has so far declined, Channel 4 has said.

The former chancellor will be grilled live at 7.30pm on Friday on the network, where Neil hosts a weekly politics programme having left the BBC and GB News.

In a swipe at his opponent, Mr Sunak tweeted: “Just me then?” with a winking emoji.

Channel 4’s chief content officer Ian Katz tweeted: “Delighted that @RishiSunak has agreed to sit down for half hour live interview with @afneil on Channel 4 on Friday evening. Still hoping that @trussliz may decide to do the same”.

Boris Johnson refused to be interviewed by Neil during the 2019 general election campaign.

The Prime Minister was accused of “running scared” from a half-hour grilling by the heavyweight interviewer on the BBC, and was further criticised for his avoidance of scrutiny when he dispatched Mr Sunak to take his place in a live televised election debate.

Neil did interview Mr Johnson and Jeremy Hunt earlier in 2019 as they went head-to-head in the last Tory leadership contest.

In that interview, Mr Johnson came under pressure for his comments about Sir Kim Darroch which were seen as the final straw in his decision to resign as Britain’s ambassador to the United States.

We hope that Liz Truss also now agrees – and allows the British public to better understand what she stands for

Channel 4 hosted the first televised debate in this Tory leadership race nine days ago, which saw more than two million people tuning in to see a series of bruising exchanges between the then-five contenders.

Louisa Compton, head of news and current affairs and specialist factual and sport at Channel 4, said: “After the success of our first audience debate we’re delighted that Rishi Sunak has confirmed he will be interviewed by Andrew Neil on Channel 4.

“We hope that Liz Truss also now agrees – and allows the British public to better understand what she stands for.”

Veteran broadcaster Andrew Neil will interview Rishi Sunak on Friday (Nicholas.T.Ansell/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Sunak has pledged to proceed with the sale of Channel 4 if he succeeds Mr Johnson as prime minister – saying privatisation would help the broadcaster compete with streaming giants.

Sunday night politics programme The Andrew Neil Show was recommissioned for a second series by Channel 4 earlier this month, after launching as a 10-part series in May, airing weekly at 6pm.

Neil’s career as a political presenter and interviewer has spanned three decades, and he is the chairman and editor-in-chief of Press Holdings Media Group, publishers of The Spectator and other related titles.

He stepped down as the chairman of GB News last year, also quitting his prime-time show on the network.

Neil is a former Sunday Times editor and was one of the BBC’s top political broadcasters for many years, presenting This Week, Daily Politics and BBC One’s Sunday Politics.

During his career Neil has interviewed world leaders including Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Kofi Annan, Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher.

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