Diane Abbott pulls out of BBC debate and Evening Standard hustings 'due to illness'

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has pulled out of two planned media appearances today “due to illness”, including a BBC radio debate and the Evening Standard’s election hustings.

Abbott was replaced by Emily Thornberry in the BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour debate this morning, with the Shadow Foreign Secretary also set to replace her at the Evening Standard event this evening.

Evening Standard editor George Osborne tweeted: “Diane Abbott has pulled out of @EveningStandard hustings. It’s not like someone who wants to be Home Sec has much to talk about these days..”

Abbott’s broadcast appearances have come under close scrutiny since she muddled police funding figures in an interview with LBC’s Nick Ferrari last month, which made national headlines.

Her no-shows today follow a difficult interview on Sky News yesterday evening in which she appeared to struggle to answer questions about her home affairs brief.

Abbott was questioned by Dermot Murnaghan about a report last year by former Metropolitan Police Authority chairman Lord Harris on security in London.

Although she said she had read the document, she appeared unable to recall any of the specific recommendations it contained.

Abbott, however, denied reports that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell wanted to keep her off air during the remaining stages of the election, fearing she had become a liability.

“I am here. I have just come from doing another media interview. I’m going on to do another media interview. There is no truth in the idea I’m not in the media,” she told Sky.

A Labour spokeswoman said: “Diane Abbott has had to pull out of Woman’s Hour due to illness. Emily Thornberry will take part instead.”

Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

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