Boris Johnson has snubbed Channel 4 by denying them an interview at the G7 summit in Biarritz after the broadcaster’s boss condemned him for dodging the media.
Channel 4 said it had sent correspondent Matt Frei to the French beach resort to grill the PM after receiving an invitation from Downing Street.
But Frei’s editor said he was told by Johnson’s aides that the interview was off because of Dorothy Byrne’s comments in a speech last week in which she branded the PM a “coward” for failing to submit himself to questioning on TV.
Accusing Mr Johnson of “failing to be held accountable on television” during the Conservative leadership campaign, the C4 head of news said he appeared to have modelled his media strategy on Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump by using social media and carefully-controlled film clips to speak directly to voters without challenge.
After Frei was turned away from his planned interview in Biarritz on Sunday, C4 editor Ben de Pear tweeted: “We were told to come for an interview, then told by advisers that C4 criticism of lack of access had resulted in... no access. Boris Johnson disagrees and says it’s due to lack of time. We are looking for clarity.”
Mr Johnson was challenged over his failure to speak to Frei by ITV’s political editor Robert Peston, who asked him: “Haven’t you just shot yourself in the foot?”
The PM dodged the question, replying: “I’m delighted to be interviewed by you Robert, it's … one of the high honours that a politician can have.
“But I'm afraid once this ceremony is over I have to go and talk to French radio, French TV and lots of other outlets as well.”