In Depth

Tory leadership TV debate: what we can expect from Johnson and Hunt

Downing Street contenders will face off in first one-on-one television debate

Conservative leadership rivals Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will take part in their first one-on-one live TV debate tonight.

Tory members have been sent ballot papers for the vote, with the new prime minister to be announced on 23 July.

What time is the debate?

The two contenders will appear on ITV for Britain’s Next Prime Minister: The ITV Debate at 8pm. The hour-long programme will be hosted by Julie Etchingham in front of a studio audience of 200 people at MediaCityUK in Manchester.

Will they both show up?

Former foreign secretary Johnson refused to take part in a live televised debate on Sky News at the end of last month. One of Hunt’s allies branded him “Bottler Boris” at the time, saying that his “complacent campaign have shown they can’t trust their candidate to turn up and perform”.

Both men have taken part in numerous hustings across the country since, but Johnson has appeared in only one previous TV debate, when there were still five contenders in the running.

He does, however, look likely to appear tonight.

The two men will also be interviewed consecutively by Andrew Neil on the BBC at 7pm on Friday in The Andrew Neil Interviews: Jeremy Hunt & Boris Johnson.

What can we expect tonight?

The two rivals will face questions on Brexit and their domestic policies, submitted in advance by ITV viewers.

“Mr Johnson will hope to use the occasion to seal his position as the clear frontrunner, with polls giving him an overwhelming lead,” says the Evening Standard.

“For Mr Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, it potentially offers a final chance to turn around a contest in which he has been the underdog throughout.”

The Sun says both men have been practising with mock debates. One of Hunt’s close allies told the newspaper: “We’ve got one final shot, and that’s to plant serious doubt in members’ minds about Boris during the debate.”

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