Boris Johnson has pulled out of an appearance before some of parliament’s most senior MPs - sending a scrawled note at the last minute.
The UK prime minister had been due to give evidence to the Commons Liaison Committee at Westminster on Thursday, but said he needs to “focus on delivering Brexit”.
In a statement by the committee, the chairwoman Sarah Wollaston expressed her “astonishment” at Johnson’s decision to cancel at such short notice, having already pulled out twice before.
He instead asked for a date to be scheduled for “5 or 6 months” after he became prime minister.
In his note, released by the committee, Johnson said: “I promised that I will come to the Liaison Committee and I will keep that promise but I am afraid I must now focus on delivering Brexit in the difficult circumstances in which we now find ourselves.”
He said that delaying his first appearance until five or six months after he became prime minister in July would be roughly in line with what happened with his predecessors Theresa May, David Cameron and Gordon Brown.
In her reply Wollaston said: “Frankly, I am astonished that, at such short notice, you are refusing to face detailed scrutiny from select committee chairs tomorrow morning.
“It is unacceptable that you are refusing to be held to account.”
The committee hearings – which normally take place three times a year – are an opportunity for members to put detailed questions to the prime minister on selected policy areas.
Johnson had been due to be questioned on climate change and health and social care policy as well as Brexit.