Michael Gove has accused opposition party leaders of committing a “denial of democracy” for refusing to allow him to take part in last night’s Channel 4 leaders’ debate on climate change.
The former Environment Secretary arrived at the television studio, alongside Boris Johnson’s father Stanley Johnson, hoping to represent the Conservatives after the Prime Minister chose not to join the discussion.
However, he was told the programme was “strictly for party leaders only” and turned away.
His party was instead represented on stage by a melting ice sculpture, which presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy said was a reminder that “ice caps are melting as politicians around the globe fail to cut greenhouse gas emissions in time to stop rising temperatures”.
The Conservatives labelled the move a “provocative partisan stunt” and have made a formal complaint to broadcast regulator Ofcom.
WATCH: Channel 4 'empty chair' Boris Johnson
A party spokesman accused Channel 4 of “conspiring” with Jeremy Corbyn to “block” the party from making their case on tackling climate change.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has been accused of “running scared” from debating Mr Corbyn, Jo Swinson, Nicola Sturgeon, Green co-leader Sian Berry and Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price.
Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said: “Given how poorly Boris Johnson’s manifesto scored in our climate and nature ranking, it’s no surprise he refused to take part.”
However, Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb told talkRADIO that leaders’ debates did not “add much to quality of democratic discussion at election time”.
“I don’t think the Prime Minister should be bullied into signing up to these TV debates at the whim of different broadcasters,” he told Julia Hartley-Brewer.
Nigel Farage also failed to appear on behalf of the Brexit Party and was also represented by an ice sculpture.
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