Sky News has postponed a planned leadership debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.

The head-to-head live broadcast was due to take place on Tuesday night – and although Mr Hunt had agreed to take part, Mr Johnson has so far declined the invitation.

A Sky spokesman said: “We stand ready to host a debate tomorrow evening if both candidates make themselves available.

“Without both candidates, tomorrow’s debate will not take place.

“But we will reissue our invitation for Mr Hunt and Mr Johnson to debate live on Sky News next Monday, July 1.”

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In an earlier interview with Sky News’ Sunrise programme, Mr Hunt said he was prepared to carry on with the event, held in front of an audience of Conservative voters, with an empty chair for his opponent.

Mr Hunt called Mr Johnson a “coward” in a piece for The Times today, saying his opponent had to answer questions about his plans in office.

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He wrote: “Only then can you walk through the front door of No 10 with your head held high instead of slinking through the back door, which is what Boris appears to want.”

He added: “Don’t be a coward Boris, man up and show the nation you can cope with the intense scrutiny the most difficult job in the country will involve.”

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