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June 17, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 7:56am

More than a million viewers tune in to Channel 4 Tory leadership debate

By James Walker

More than a million people tuned in to the Conservative Party leadership debate hosted by Channel 4 last night, the broadcaster has said.

Channel 4 said an average of 1.3m viewers watched the debate, an increase of 48 per cent on the average viewership for the 6.30pm to 8pm Sunday timeslot.

The broadcaster also claimed that the show, titled Britain’s Next PM and hosted by Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy, peaked at 1.5m viewers.

Boris Johnson was the only candidate to snub the debate. The Tory leadership race front runner was represented by an empty lectern throughout the hour-and-a-half broadcast.

It prompted comments from his six rivals during the show, including Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt who quipped: “If Boris’ team won’t let him out to debate five pretty friendly colleagues, how will he get on with 27 EU countries?”

However, the former Mayor of London is set to take part in the debate hosted by the BBC tomorrow night following a second round of voting by Conservative MPs, further narrowing the field. The winner of the Tory leadership contest will go on to become the next UK Prime Minister.

Ahead of last night’s broadcast, Jeremy Hunt promised to revive monthly prime ministerial press conferences should he become leader.

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The monthly press conferences were wound down under former prime minister David Cameron, having once been a staple of the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown premierships.

Hunt made his pledge to revive the conferences in an interview with the Mail on Sunday yesterday. He told the newspaper that he wanted to come under proper scrutiny, should he find himself in Number 10.

Press Gazette has asked the other leadership candidates if they will match the pledge, but has yet to receive a response.

Picture: Channel 4

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