Channel 4 has fanned rumours that Boris Johnson will be replaced by a melting ice sculpture of himself if he fails to turn up to tonight’s climate change debate.

The broadcaster did not deny suggestions on social media that the Prime Minister could be replaced by an icy incarnation of his likeness as opposed to a traditional empty chair.

Channel 4 is due to broadcast the first TV election debate on climate change at 7pm but Mr Johnson is not expected to take part.

A spokeswoman for Channel 4 News said: “The clock is ticking. The ice caps are melting. Our invitation to the Prime Minister remains open until 7pm tonight.”

A rumour about whether a frozen sculpture of Boris Johnson, which would slowly melt as the debate goes on, was tweeted out by the Daily Mail’s political editor Jason Groves today.

It is unclear whether Channel 4’s tongue-in-cheek response is an admission the stunt will go ahead or an attempt to whip up more interest in the debate.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage is also due to snub tonight’s debate, having tweeted out a statement on Tuesday that it had no faith in the broadcaster conducting it in a “fair and objective way”.

There is no word as to whether Mr Farage would be replaced by an ice sculpture too.

Party leaders Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon and Jo Swinson have confirmed their attendance while Green leader Sian Berry and Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price will also appear.

Boris Johnson is also at the centre of criticism aimed at the BBC over the leader debates being held by Andrew Neil.

He has already taken Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to task in interviews broadcast this week.

But a Labour MP attacked the BBC’s choice to put out the interviews before it had sorted one with the Prime Minister.

Yesterday evening, Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery said yesterday evening: “Boris Johnson backed out of a head-to-head debate with Jeremy Corbyn on Sunday, he is refusing to take part in the party leaders’ climate crisis debate tomorrow and now this.

“He’s running scared because every time he is confronted with the impact of nine years of austerity, the cost of living crisis and over his plans to sell out our NHS, the more he is exposed.”

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