Boris Johnson snubbed a Westminster hustings with lobby journalists today and is the only Tory leadership candidate who has not yet backed the return of monthly Prime Ministerial press conferences.
His latest dodging of media scrutiny comes a day after Channel 4 empty-chaired the Tory leadership front runner when he failed to show up for its leadership debate televised last night.
The lack of media appearances by Johnson since he launched his bid to succeed Theresa May has drawn criticism, although he has said he will appear on the BBC debate which will air tomorrow night.
It follows a second round of voting by Conservative MPs that will further narrow the field of candidates vying to become the next UK Prime Minister.
The hustings with the press gallery, the group of journalists who are based in Parliament, was attended by all other leadership candidates.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was the first candidate to say he would bring back monthly Prime Ministerial press conferences in an interview with the Mail on Sunday yesterday.
His leadership rivals Rory Stewart, Sajid Javid, Dominic Raab and Michael Gove later came out in support of the idea at the lobby hustings.
Raab and Gove said they would both commit to monthly press conferences while Javid said they were “a brilliant idea”, according to lobby reporters invited to the closed event.
Financial Times Whitehall correspondent Sebastian Payne tweeted a statement from Stewart’s campaign:
Campaign spokesperson: pic.twitter.com/Rhj8Mge06R
— Sebastian Payne (@SebastianEPayne) June 17, 2019
Monthly press conferences were a regular feature of the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s premierships but were later wound down by former Prime Minister David Cameron.
Press Gazette has asked Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign if he backs the return of monthly press conferences but has yet to receive a response.
Picture: Reuters TV via Reuters