Tory leadership contenders to be interviewed by Andrew Neil

The Tory leadership contenders will both face a grilling from the BBC’s Andrew Neil.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will give half-an-hour interviews to the journalist in a programme to be broadcast on July 12.

The scrutiny will come after Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt repeatedly criticised the front-runner for only committing to one head-to-head debate in the final stages of the contest.

Tory leadership race
Tory leadership race

Mr Johnson had declined a Sky News showdown before agreeing to take part in one on July 9.

But Mr Hunt’s camp is concerned many members will already have voted by that date, constraining any impact the debate may have.

He has been highly critical of the BBC for offering to stage a debate late on in the contest.

Then he accused the broadcaster of “caving in” to pressure from Mr Johnson’s spin doctor, Sir Lynton Crosby.

Tory leadership race
Tory leadership race

BBC News director Fran Unsworth said: “Andrew Neil is one of the best political interviewers on television.

“He’ll be questioning the two candidates on behalf of audiences up and down the country, including the Conservative Party members who are voting for their next leader.

“Their decision will, of course, affect all of us, so we think it’s strongly in the public interest that we put the two candidates and their policy ambitions to the test.”

The interviews will be broadcast from 7pm on BBC One.