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Channel 4 News to replace missing party leaders with ice sculptures for climate debate

Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage will each be represented by ice sculptures during tonight’s Channel 4 News climate debate, which the pair have snubbed, it has been reported.

Editor Ben de Pear (pictured left) told PA: “These two ice sculptures represent the emergency on planet earth, not in any human form but are a visual metaphor for the Conservative and Brexit parties after their leaders declined our repeated invitations to attend tonight’s vital climate debate.”

The hour-long climate debate, said to be a UK TV first, will air at 7pm tonight on Channel 4 and will be hosted by news presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, Plaid Cymru’s leader Adam Price (pictured centre) and Green co-leader Sian Berry will take part.

Farage’s Brexit Party confirmed on Twitter earlier this week that they would not be taking part, saying in a statement that it had “no faith the broadcaster will conduct this debate in a fair and objective way”.

Press Gazette reported that the leaders would be empty chaired if they refused to show for the debate. It appears the ice sculptures will stand alongside empty podiums for both leaders.

It has been reported that the Conservative Party wanted to send Environment Secretary Michael Gove to represent the party at the debate.

Asked on Wednesday whether a Conservative minister, such as former environment secretary Michael Gove, could attend the Channel 4 debate instead of Mr Johnson, a spokeswoman for Channel 4 News said: “Michael Gove is not the party leader.”

The politicians taking part are likely to face questions over the level of ambition and feasibility in their plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the UK to zero overall, and the date they have pledged to achieve it by.

Guru-Murthy said leaders would be grilled on how people’s lives will have to change – whether it would involve giving up red meat, going on holiday or ending fast fashion.

Plans to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles, cut the carbon from heating homes, plant trees and protect wildlife are also among the subjects they could be quizzed on.

Guru-Murthy said: “This debate has been called for by hundreds of thousands of people from all sorts of different walks of life.”

He urged Johnson, who has said he does not want to debate Ms Sturgeon because she cannot become prime minister, to change his mind, promising him he would get a fair hearing.

Channel 4 was forced to cancel a debate on Sunday after Johnson refused to show.

Additional reporting by PA.

Picture: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire

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