Boris Johnson should ‘face the public’ and take part in TV debates, say ERS

Posted on the 24th June 2019

  • For immediate release: Statement from the Electoral Reform Society, 24th June 2019
  • Contact Jon Narcross, Communications Officer at mediaoffice@electoral-reform.org.uk or 07794728820 for further comment/information

Campaigners are calling for Boris Johnson to ‘face the public’ and take part in live TV debates as Sky was forced to cancel tonight’s event.
 
The Electoral Reform Society have issued the call to the Conservative leadership candidate as Sky was forced to postpone tomorrow’s debate due to Mr Johnson’s refusal to take part.
 
In announcing the cancellation of tonight’s debate the broadcaster issues a fresh invite to both candidates announcing it would seek to re-stage the debate on 1 July – providing Mr Johnson agrees to take part [1].
 
Earlier on Monday Jeremy Hunt called Mr Johnson a ‘coward’ in a piece for the Times – saying his opponent had to answer questions about his plans in office [2].
 
Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:
 
“TV debates have become a core and established part of our elections in the UK – a chance to put candidates under the spotlight and scrutinise their policies. The fact that the electorate for this contest is restricted to Conservative Party members means the need for full and proper public scrutiny is even more vital.
 
“The public have a right to hear the views and policies of our potential next Prime Minister. By appearing to hide from scrutiny, Boris Johnson is denying us all a vital democratic opportunity.
 
“In only speaking to a handful of voters, Johnson is dismissing the very public he seeks to serve. Mr Johnson should do the right thing and agree to fully take part in open, transparent debates and set out his views before the country. To fail to do so would only increase distrust and let voters down at this crucial time in our politics.”
 
A poll for the Electoral Reform Society during the 2017 election found 56% of voters, rising to 71% among 18-24 year-olds, suggested most voters back TV debates, which have been a feature of election campaigns since 2010.
 
Over a third of viewers said the Question Time election special influenced their vote. On a UK-wide level, that would amount to 1.4m voters. Over 80 percent of viewers said they talked about the Question Time special with their friends and family, while 40 percent said the programme made them more interested in the campaign.
 
ENDS

In 2017 the ERS published a major report on the Question Times special https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Debating-the-TV-Debates-FINAL.pdf
  
[1] https://twitter.com/SkyNewsPR/status/1143091013155729409
[2] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/forget-your-private-life-boris-but-man-up-and-face-me-5zxcdw2d6
 

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