Boris Johnson Should 'Man Up' And Do Andrew Neil Interview, Say Voters

People in Preston don’t mince their words and describe the PM as ‘cowardly’ and out of touch with ordinary folk for shirking an interview with the fearsome broadcaster.

Boris Johnson was on Thursday night savaged by BBC broadcaster Andrew Neil over the prime minister’s unprecedented refusal to commit to an interview.

In a powerful direct-to-camera monologue, the presenter told Johnson it was “a question of trust” and highlighted that he was the only leader of a main party who hadn’t faced a prime-time grilling by him.

The challenge has sparked a furore, with many people citing it as a big moment in the pre-election build up.

But what do people think outside the Westminster bubble? Do they know Boris Johnson has ignored calls to be interviewed by Andrew Neil – and do they actually care?

HuffPost UK took to the streets of Preston in Lancashire to ask the public for their views.

Sakia Ali
Sakia Ali
Aasma Day

The answer appears to be yes. Sakia Ali, 28, who works in pathology for the NHS, knows all about Boris Johnson evading an Andrew Neil interrogation – and she cares deeply about it for many reasons.

“Boris Johnson has been avoiding the interview as he is cowardly and he knows his policies aren’t up to scratch and that they will get shredded by Andrew Neil.” she told HuffPost UK.

Working in the NHS, Ali knows the organisation is in dire need of funds and says she is fed up of hearing what she says are Johnson’s constant lies.

“He keeps lying about how much he is investing in the NHS and he has pledged 40 new hospitals, which is just ridiculous when they are actually closing hospitals down,” she said.

“There are not enough people in the NHS to do the job and we need more permanent staff rather than bank staff who are having to work around the clock.”

She believes the PM has seen the other leaders come under intense scrutiny in interviews with Neil – including Jeremy Corbyn’s which was described as a “bloodbath” and “brutal” – and she feels Johnson is worried about getting similar treatment.

“Boris Johnson just doesn’t answer any questions,” she said. “He simply repeats statements in every interview he does and goes back to these rehearsed statements rather than giving a valid answer.

“He absolutely should man up and do the interview with Andrew Neil.

“But I also think that if he does the interview and is grilled and unable to answer anything, that won’t do him any good either and he knows that.”

Ali added that people have lost faith in Johnson and he is doing nothing to change the public’s perspective of him.

As a Muslim woman, she was deeply perturbed by comments Boris Johnson has made – including describing those wearing the veil as looking like “letter-boxes” and “bank robbers.”

Ali said: “Boris Johnson made some awful comments about Muslim women and he was asked to apologise so many times but defended his right to free speech.

“But it’s not free speech if it is hurting a minority group, especially a group of people who are already under attack and scrutiny.”

It is fair to say that one 53-year-old Preston man HuffPost UK spoke to is definitely not a Boris Johnson fan.

When asked to share his views on Boris Johnson avoiding being interviewed by Andrew Neil, the man – who did not want to be named or photographed – launched an angry tirade.

“Boris Johnson is a narcissistic, opportunistic, self-interested, psychopathic bastard who could not give a flying f*** about anyone other than Boris Johnson.” he vented to HuffPost UK.

And in an extraordinary twist, he told us he has voted for the Tories all his life but now “I hate them with a passion” due to Johnson.

“I would never trust him as he is a despicable man. I certainly wouldn’t want someone like him living next door to me,” he said.

“All he is interested in is himself and he is a liar and is manipulative and everything he does is about him getting power. He supported Brexit because he spied an opportunity that it could deliver him to Number 10.

“Even his own sister said that when he was younger, he always said he wanted to rule the world.”

The man added: “Corbyn will be a disaster, but at least he is a person who actually cares about other people.

“With Boris Johnson, all we have is a mini Trump.”

Christine Furlong
Christine Furlong
Aasma Day

Retired social worker Christine Furlong says Boris Johnson should do the Andrew Neil interview – especially since Jeremy Corbyn faced the broadcaster.

However, she concedes people are “probably getting tired of all these interviews”, especially with the head-to-head debate between Johnson and Corbyn already scheduled for tonight.

“There’s only so much that people can watch and take in.” she told HuffPost UK. “And I suppose politicians can only be in so many places and can’t do everything.”

She feels Boris Johnson is completely out of touch with ordinary people, especially as he comes from such an elite background himself.

She said: “Jeremy Corbyn had a very nice background as well, but from a young age, he has fought for the underdog and lives in an ordinary house. I think he is much more in touch with the ordinary people.

“With Boris Johnson, he is all about putting on an act and he likes doing things like visiting factories and trying things out.

“I think he probably wouldn’t stand up very well to being grilled by Andrew Neil and that’s why he doesn’t want to do it.”

Zac Khan
Zac Khan
Aasma Day

Astrophysics student Zac Khan, 21, believes it is perfectly reasonable and just that Andrew Neil has thrown down the challenge to Boris Johnson to be interviewed – and feels Johnson is showing poor leadership by not going on the show.

“He is coming across as a coward.” he told HuffPost UK. “And it feels deliberate and intentional. It doesn’t seem like he is trying to wriggle out of it – it feels like he doesn’t want to do it at all and has no intention of going ahead with it.

“Trust is a massive issue, especially in this kind of political climate. Trust is a big thing that people are looking for.

“I don’t think Boris Johnson is doing himself any favours by not doing this interview but I also think it won’t make any difference at this point.

“I think he probably thinks it will do him more harm than good.

“However, I think he should show some integrity and do it.”

Gerald Irvine
Gerald Irvine
Aasma Day

Gerald Irvine, 64, a retired electrical engineer, asks: “What is Boris Johnson frightened of?” and firmly believes he should allow himself to be interviewed by Andrew Neil.

“He is supposed to be campaigning so if he wants to get things across to people, he should go on TV as there could not be a better platform,” he said.

“Andrew Neil is very good and does a lot of research and his interviews get right down to the facts and he doesn’t let anyone wriggle out of anything.

“I think Boris Johnson has a fear that he might put his foot in it. He could do more damage to himself by going ahead with the interview.”

Irvine says all the leaders are under pressure when it comes to interviews as they know that if they say one word out of context, it “could be misconstrued”.

But in his opinion, Johnson’s failure to be interviewed by Neil will make people more hesitant to trust him.

“I think he should definitely go on the show. What is he so scared of?”

Not everyone is impressed by Andrew Neil’s challenge to Boris Johnson, though.

Camilla Emmanuel, 20, who is studying biomedical sciences, told HuffPost UK: “I don’t know who Andrew Neil is.

“I don’t have any thoughts about Boris Johnson. I am not interested in politics. I have not been watching any of the election coverage.

“I know Boris Johnson is the prime minister but apart from that, I don’t really know anything else about him and I am not really interested.

“I am generally not interested in any sort of politics and would sooner just get on with my own life.”

Elavi Dowie
Elavi Dowie
Aasma Day

But Elavi Dowie says he definitely knows and cares about what is happening – and he is not surprised at all by Boris Johnson’s evading tactics when it comes to agreeing to be interviewed by Andrew Neil.

The 38-year-old musician told HuffPost UK: “I think Boris Johnson is not willing to put himself in the firing line and address the issues that people are worried about concerning him and his policies.”

He believes Boris Johnson should do the interview as “politicians should be open and transparent”.

“If you want to continue being prime minister, you have to show people what you are really about.” he told HuffPost UK.

Dowie said Johnson has said a lot of things that are “divisive and racist” and that if “he wants to bring the country together, he needs to speak to the country.”

“The comments he made about Black people and Muslim women were disgusting.

“But I know people can sometimes put their foot in it and something can come out wrong as we are all human.

“But he never retracted the statements and I don’t think the apology he eventually made about what he said about Muslim women was a true apology as it was very negative.

“I think Boris Johnson is being a coward and is scared he won’t fare well being interviewed by Andrew Neil.

“His public image has been tainted and I think he knows he has come across in a negative light and that he won’t be able to fix it.”