Boris Johnson has been accused of thinking he is “above accountability” after refusing to attend his own constituency hustings – despite locals rearranging the event to make it easier for him to be held up to public scrutiny.
The prime minister has faced criticism for declining interviews from both the BBC’s Andrew Neil and ITV’s Julie Etchingham after Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn featured on the programmes of both.
Now local polticians have said they too are being sidelines by the PM’s determination to avoid scrutiny after Mr Johnson failed to attend a hustings event in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.
Organisers had initially rearranged to accommodate the Conservative candidate after the event clashed with Mr Johnson’s debate with Jeremy Corbyn on the BBC, but the PM declined nonetheless.
Labour candidate Ali Milani, who did attend the debate, wrote on Facebook afterwards: “Local hustings are a pillar of local democracy. Every local resident should have the right to ask all their candidates questions and hear their views.
“Truth is, those who come from the ‘born to rule’ political class believe they are above accountability.
“My challenge to Johnson: there is time. Show up and debate me.”
Both of Mr Johnson’s last two Conservative predecessors faced down questions in their own constituencies while running national campaigns – with Theresa May confronted over hate crime against Gypsy and traveller communities in Maidenhead in 2017, and David Cameron asked about his views on potential improvements to the A40 at a debate in 2015.
The PM’s hold on his seat is much more tenuous than is normally the case for residents of Number 10: his 5,034-vote winning margin in 2017 is dwarfed by the next smallest in recent years, Tony Blair’s 17,713 in 2001.
While the Conservatives are expected to retain Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Mr Johnson will have to see off the momentum of Mr Milani, a 25-year-old student organiser, to avoid humiliation at the polls on Thursday.
The Independent has approached the Conservative Party for comment.