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Kay Burley Strikes Fear In Tory Ministers

Kay Burley Strikes Fear In Tory Ministers

It is an early-morning ordeal that comes with the job of being a senior MP.

Almost every day from Monday to Friday, a Tory and Labour frontbencher is put up to do a round of interviews on breakfast TV and radio.

For the broadcasters, it is an opportunity to ask the UK’s top politicians about the major issues of the day.

But for the MPs themselves, it is a political high-wire act.

When it goes well, they can shape that day’s news agenda.

But when it goes badly, it can leave their party – or the government – on the back foot for the rest of the day.

Last week, culture secretary Lucy Frazer and transport minister Huw Merriman endured two excruciating ordeals while being interviewed by Kay Burley on Sky News.

And since then, no minister has appeared on the channel’s breakfast show while Burley has been on duty.

On Monday, Frazer was left flummoxed when Burley asked her for examples of BBC bias after the government launched another crackdown on the corporation.

The minister said: “Well, there is a perception among the public that the BBC is biased, and as culture secretary, it is important I look at this.”

Burley replied: “Yeah but I’m asking you about the evidence of bias. Where’s the evidence?”

After a short pause, Frazer replied: “The evidence of bias is what audience’s believe the content of the BBC.”

But Burley told her: “That’s perception not evidence.”

Things went even worse on Tuesday for Merriman when, in response to the same question, he bizarrely identified the satirical Radio 4 show The News Quiz.

He said: “For 10 minutes all I heard, and it wasn’t satirical, it was just diatribe against Conservatives, not the government. And I did listen to that and think ‘for goodness sake, where is the balance in that’?

“So yes, I’m afraid to say despite the fact I’ve always been a big supporter of the BBC, that struck me as completely biased.”

But Burley replied: “OK, you understand that a news quiz is comedy and nothing to do with actual news?”

On Wednesday and Thursday – while ministers Kevin Hollinrake and Chris Philp were being interrogated on the likes of the BBC, GB News and Times Radio, no minister was made available to face Burley on Sky.

On Friday – Burley’s day off – Treasury minister Gareth Davies did appear on the channel, where he was interviewed by highly respected broadcaster Anna Jones.

However, today – when Burley was back in the studio – health secretary Victoria Atkins was interviewed on a range of outlets, but not Sky News.

A No10 source insisted there was nothing unusual about the arrangement, telling HuffPost UK that morning broadcast interview rounds are alternated on a daily and weekly basis.

They also point out that business secretary Kemi Badenoch was made available for Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips on Sky News yesterday, and that a minister will appear on the channel’s Politics Hub show tonight.

However, asked directly whether ministers have been effectively banned from being interviewed by Kay Burley, they did not comment.

A year ago, shortly after Rishi Sunak became prime minister, Downing Street virtually stopped any minister from appearing on breakfast shows in a bid to avoid embarrassing incidents.

However, that policy was quickly ditched after critics pointed out it simply allowed opposition parties to dominate the headlines instead of the government.

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