The government has complained after Channel 4 empty-chaired the PM with an ice sculpture

Channel 4 is embroiled in a row with the government over their reaction to yet another Boris Johnson no-show. It reads like a 1980s American soap opera, but stick with it. Thursday night’s climate debate between the leaders of the main parties should have involved Boris Johnson, but he declined the invitation, leading Channel 4 to do this:

Having a great big melt in the studio might not have been all that different, in some people’s eyes, but the Conservatives wanted to avoid the embarrassing substitution. In spite of it being clearly billed as a leaders‘ debate, Michael Gove turned up requesting to take the place of the PM, but was declined.

Channel 4 News editor, Ben de Pear, mistakenly tweeted that Boris Johnson had sent Gove and Johnson Sr., before correctly adding that Stanley Johnson had actually been invited to the studio – although not as his son’s replacement.

However, the idea of Johnson sending his dad to work for him got a few pisstakes before the truth emerged.

Michael Gove accused Channel 4 of not letting him join the debate because the other leaders had vetoed him, completely ignoring the fact that the other leaders were …well, leaders, unlike him. In a not-remotely-suspicious coincidence, he had brought a film crew with him to record the – entirely cordial – exchange, which he shared on Twitter.

People weren’t impressed with the heavy-handed move, although some wondered whether they could get away with it themselves.

And then it got heavier still …

Twitter wasn’t impressed by that, either.

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