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The question that Boris Johnson doesn’t want to be asked

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Why is Boris Johnson hiding from journalists? He won’t take part in the Channel 4 debate on Sunday. He can’t fit in the hustings in front of Westminster journalists on Monday because, he says, he has to prepare for the next hustings in front of Conservative MPs that afternoon.

He can’t find space in his diary for a big public event until the BBC’s TV debate on Tuesday night – coincidentally after the second ballot of Tory MPs, in which he will probably have consolidated his position as the frontrunner.

His handlers were so worried about the idea that Johnson is “frit” that they arranged an 18-minute recorded interview with Mark Mardell for BBC Radio 4’s World At One on Friday. BBC sources say they were given 10 minutes notice of the candidate’s arrival; the Johnson campaign say it was 30 minutes.

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Either way, it was an attempt to make the prime-minister-presumptive available for sustained questions while keeping him on as short a leash as possible.

Johnson is trying to strike a balance. On the one hand, he knows the frontrunner has most to lose from exposure. That was why leaders, from........

© Independent