00:41 GMT07 March 2021
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    Former Mayor of London and Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson rejected a request from his rival leadership challenger, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, to hold an early debate on Sky News, on the basis that the public has a right to know the policies and character of the two potential PMs.

    Boris Johnson has insisted that his refusal not partake in a debate with leadership rival Jeremy Hunt is not an attempt to avoid scrutiny.

    Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt both showed their faces at a hustings event in Exeter on Friday for Tory members exclusively.

    While they did not debate one another and were both questioned individually.

    One questioner directed a question to Boris Johnson asking if his reluctance to debate his leadership fellow contender meant he was scared of serious perusal by opposition and from the public.

    The former mayor of London dismissed the idea saying that the only effect a debate would have would to bring harm to the Conservative Party.

    He said: “One of the important things as Conservatives is not to spend too much time tearing great lumps out of each other in advance of the end of the contest. My policies and so on have received a huge amount of scrutiny,”

    “I’m doing at least two head-to-head debates, which I think is probably more than enough to glut the appetite of the electorate. I’ve done loads of debate in my time, loads and loads.”

    Jeremy Hunt responded by promising not to attack Mr Johnson “personal issues” and “stick to the issues facing the country.

    He did however stand by his decision to label his opponent a “coward” for not agreeing to the debate.

    This comes as Tom Newton Dunn told BBC’s Question Time on Thursday the Boris Johnson’s private affairs should be open for scrutiny. 

    The internet reacted to Mr Johnson’s rejection saying that he was hiding from scrutiny.

    ​Some invoked the duty of the prime ministership to public inspection and proposed a petition to demand that Mr Johnson participate. 

    Supporters of Mr Johnson praised him for dodging the Sky News debate dubbing it “Sly News”.

    Some called into question the hypocrisy of how those who recorded an apparent altercation between Boris Johnson and his girlfriend are being treated in the media as opposed to Johnson himself. 

    Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are scheduled to debate each other on 9 July on ITV. 

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