‘This is the interview we have waited 1,791 days for, and it couldn’t come at a better time,’ said Susanna Reid as she introduced Boris Johnson to Good Morning Britain.
Today marked the Prime Minister’s first appearance on the programme since he chose to hide in a fridge over speaking to the presenter and her former co-host Piers Morgan in the lead up to the 2019 general election.
It was five years since he actually volunteered to appear on GMB, the programme which has been known to reach up to two million viewers a day, many of whom perhaps rely on the breakfast show for the majority of their news intake.
It’s worth remembering that during that time Boris has won his first general election, and led the country through a pandemic – even proudly boasting that we had the fastest vaccine roll out across the world, despite also having one of the largest death tolls, too.
Well, if he is genuinely proud of his handling of the pandemic and his reign as Prime Minister it makes his absence from Good Morning Britain all the more bewildering.
I haven’t seen Boris Johnson look quite as pained over the last five years as he did when confronted with Susanna
However, when he was faced with Susanna today, it was immediately apparent why chilling in a fridge was clearly a preferable move than being confronted by one of the slickest broadcasters we have.
‘Are you honest, Prime Minister?’ was Susanna’s opening question, one which remarkably hasn’t really been put to the Prime Minister with such steely poise.
From there she tore the PM apart, putting him on the spot over the crippling cost of living that continues to soar, his own office thought to be one of the most fined single addresses in the country due to lockdown breaches and the scandals that continue to engulf his own party.
At one point, Susanna told Mr Johnson about 77-year-old pensioner Elsie, who has resorted to eating one meal a day and using her free bus pass to ride buses all day to stay warm.
His response was extraordinary.
‘I just want to remind you, the 24 hour freedom bus pass was something I introduced’, he said.
I haven’t seen Boris Johnson look quite as pained over the last five years as he did when confronted with Susanna, even when faced with his Labour opposition in parliament.
I’ve long been a fan of Susanna, and it always frustrated me when her former GMB co-host would grab all the attention and subsequent praise or backlash because, more of than than not, she didn’t get a chance to hold MPs to account with the same force she did today.
Time and time again she was accused of ‘hiding behind’ Piers Morgan until he quit the show over his determined vendetta against Meghan Markle.
Actually, there was never much room for her to really make her mark.
When confronted with Boris Johnson, Susanna was briefed to the nth degree, she didn’t miss a beat as the Prime Minister seemingly became more and more uncomfortable with each question.
While Piers Morgan would often grab the headlines, Susanna ensured the story was all about the Prime Minister, simply highlighting his failure to help the most vulnerable rather than becoming the headline herself.
Boris Johnson may have thought without Piers Morgan in the frame, he’d be given an easier ride.
He couldn’t have been more wrong.
Using the ‘let me speak’ line was a tactic used by countless MPs in Piers’ firing line on Good Morning Britain, if they dared show up.
If anything, Johnson’s issue was that he *was* allowed to speak and, when he did, he was left exposed.
He even admitted that he’s not doing enough to help the cost of living and could have acted faster to accept Ukrainian refugees – one of the few times he’s actually conceded that he didn’t do the job he was elected to do.
‘When you say: ‘We’re doing everything we can’, you’re not being honest are you? Because you just said there’s more we can do,’ Susanna quipped.
As her close friend Rob Rinder put it after the interview: ‘Any journalist can put questions to power; only great journalists can hold power to account.’
Good Morning Britain has at times been wrongly snarled at by some commentators who often laugh at the line of questioning and animated responses from its hosts.
And there were plenty of sceptics who thought that the show would crumble without Morgan.
But as Susanna proved this morning, and always has done when given the chance on Good Morning Britain, few journalists are truly capable of holding their guests to account like she can.
And you would underestimate her at your peril.