It has been confirmed that Mr Neil will not return to the channel’s screen next week, amid fears a bitter bust-up with channel executives will force the political heavyweight to quit. Sources say the Scottish journalist, 72 ‑ who is also chairman of GB News ‑ will not be making a return to the studio from his home in France until a resolution has been reached with station bosses.
Mr Neil, who used to host various political commentary shows for the BBC, previously revealed he was taking a break after hosting just eight GB News programmes ‑ and he admitted the channel was facing challenges.
He said: “Before I take this break, let me say this. Yes, we had a bit of a rocky start with the launch of GB News. We’re a start-up, they’re always a bit rocky these start-ups.
“But we are up and running as you can see, we get better every day and there’s clearly an appetite for what we’re doing.”
Mr Neil vanished from the airwaves just a fortnight after the channel’s launch on June 13.
While he has not presented his 8pm slot since June 24, it was previously understood that Mr Neil would be making a big comeback this coming Monday evening.
But former Sky anchor Colin Brazier, 53, confirmed on social media that he would once again be filling in for his colleague by presenting his show.
Mr Neil’s continued absence has not got in the way of plans for a station relaunch, throwing the possibility of his return into further doubt.
Viewers also speculated that Michelle Dewberry, 41, was leaving the channel after her slot was missing from next week’s TV guides.
But she tweeted: “Sorry to disappoint the mischief makers, but I’m just taking a couple of weeks’ annual leave. Northerners get holiday too.”
Yesterday it was also announced political commentator Isabel Oakeshott, a co-author of controversial 2015 book Call Me Dave about former premier David Cameron, will host her own weekly programme alongside current GB News political reporter Tom Harwood. The show will begin as part of September’s relaunch.
The channel has beaten Sky News’ peak audience on a number of occasions and claims that between 7pm and 11pm last Thursday they had 71.45 percent of the audience most likely to watch their digital rivals.