Tory chairman James Cleverly 'refuses to go on TV' after car-crash interviews

Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly has been accused of backing out of a TV appearance this morning after two car-crash interviews in which he was forced to defend his party over a number of scandals.

The senior Tory refused to take part in the interview on Sky News at the last minute despite "standing just 15ft away" from the empty chair, according to presenter Kay Burley.

Mr Cleverly had just appeared on Good Morning Britain and BBC Today, where he struggled to answer a series of difficult questions about his party's decision to share a doctored video of shadow Brexit minister Keir Starmer, which had been edited to make it seem like he was unable to answer a question about Brexit.

He was also quizzed about Jacob Rees-Mogg suggesting Grenfell residents who stayed in the burning building 'lacked common sense', and a prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate who posted on social media that people featured in reality TV show Benefits Street needed "putting down".

James Cleverly pulls out of Kay Burley interview (Sky News)

Kay Burley said she was due to interview Mr Cleverly, but he "would not come on the programme".

She said: "Ooh, I'm fuming. I can't even begin to tell you how cross I am.

"I've got an empty chair here.

"It was supposed to be filled by the Chairman of the Conservative party.

"Where is he? He's probably 15ft away from me.

"I've been in to see him. He said he wasn't due to come and talk to us today although they had said they would talk to us."

James Cleverly endured an uncomfortable interview on Good Morning Interview.

Mr Cleverly denied backing out, and said he was booked to do another interview on Talk Radio at the time.

He wrote on Twitter: "I'm good at multitasking but cannot be in two studios at the same time."

A Conservative Party spokesperson denied Mr Cleverly refused to the Sky News interview.

Burley insisted he had agreed to go on air. "He ducked us on the media round but then said yes to my team when we tracked him down," she tweeted.

Talk Radio said: "Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly was talking with Julia when Sky News presenter Kay Burley cut to an empty chair, claiming he was refusing to come on the programme."

Speaking on Good Morning Britain earlier this morning, Mr Cleverly defended the edited video of Sir Keir Starmer, which was shared by a senior of senior Conservatives.

He said: "We needed to shorten the video."

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Cleverly said the edited video of Sir Keir Starmer was "satirical".

"What we also did, and this is not unique to us, is we did a lighthearted satirical video, obviously so with a comedy soundtrack, highlighting the Labour Party's chaotic position on Brexit," he said.

Asked whether his party had "posted a lie" online, he replied: "I disagree with your assessment of it."

Conservative parliamentary candidate Johnny Mercer, who shared the video on his Twitter, apologised for doing so.

He said: "It would appear this has inexplicably been doctored at the end.

"I apologise and will remove it.

"The original interview was bad enough - I have no idea why this needed altering. I will call this out-whichever side does it, including my own. Sorry folks."

- This article first appeared on Yahoo

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