The Foreign Secretary said holding the showdown on July 16 was an ‘absolute joke’ as 90 per cent of the ballots will have been cast by then.
He raged that the corporation had ‘caved’ to Mr Johnson’s demands because they lacked the ‘courage’ to empty chair him.
The vicious backlash came as the gloves finally came off in the
Iain Duncan Smith jibed that the EU would just ‘laugh’ at Mr Hunt if he threatened to leave with No Deal after warning the consequences would be disastrous.
But ex-Cabinet minister Patrick McLoughlin said the attack showed that Mr Johnson’s team were ‘rattled’, adding: ‘Language like this is no way to unite the party or the country.’
Meanwhile, the race is embroiled in a ‘dirty tricks’ row amid claims the front runner’s campaign has been ‘cold calling’ party members.
Jeremy Hunt (pictured running in London today) has torn into the BBC for agreeing to put off his TV head-to-head with Boris Johnson until after most Tory members have voted
Mr Hunt said holding the showdown on July 16 was an ‘absolute joke’ as 90 per cent of the ballots will have been cast by then
Former MP Ben Howlett said he had been contacted and questioned how they obtained his details – suggesting he will complain to the Information Commissioner.
A serving MP has also lodged a formal complaint with party chairman Brandon Lewis about the potential data protection breach.
The contest is cranking up a gear as the rivals prepare to take part in hustings in Northern Ireland this morning.
The pair are visiting Belfast as they seek to win over party members, and are likely to be quizzed on their proposals to resolve the Irish border issue and remove the controversial backstop.
Mr Hunt has said he believes there is ‘technology there now’ to provide a solution, while Mr Johnson has suggested the backstop issue could be solved during the implementation period.
Mr Hunt said the timing of a BBC showdown between the pair was an ‘absolute joke’ – suggesting Mr Johnson had forced a delay.
‘Just been invited by BBC’s @franunsworth to live TV debate against Boris on 16 July – AFTER around 90% of members have voted,’ Mr Hunt tweeted.
‘Absolute joke to give the appearance of a debate whilst knowing it can have ZERO influence on campaign. Also v disrespectful to members & the public.’
Allies of Boris Johnson (pictured in Belfast today) has been accused of trying to dodge scrutiny in the Tory contest
Iain Duncan Smith jibed that the EU would just ‘laugh’ at Mr Hunt if he threatened to leave with No Deal after warning the consequences would be disastrous
He added: ‘Other broadcasters had the courage to empty chair no shows. What happened to scrutiny without fear or favour at the BBC?
‘Many Beeb journalists will be deeply uncomfortable at this caving to Lynton Crosby. Come on BBC – this is for OUR PRIME MINISTER!’
Speaking on Sky News today, Mr Duncan Smith said: ‘If you do not have a clear point at which you leave the table then you become a pushover for them to put on you their view of life, and if they think you are scared they know in your heart you won’t make that decision to leave on the 31st.’
He added: ‘I would laugh if I was the EU and Jeremy Hunt came over and said we really hate the idea of leaving without a deal, we’re really scared of what happens, but look here we are serious about negotiating.
‘They’d be laughing behind their hands.’
Mr Hunt told Sky News last night that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is willing to look at new Brexit proposals put forward by the next prime minister.
He said: ‘I’ve had a conversation with Angela Merkel and… (she said) ‘of course we will look at any proposals made by a new UK prime minister’, because she wants to solve this problem.
‘And providing we’re sensible, and I think the approach that I’ve laid out is a sensible approach and a fair approach, and I think that it’s in Germany’s interests as well.
‘What she has said is she will look at the package and I think she will look at it with an open mind.’