Fresh doubt has been cast over Andrew Neil’s continued involvement in GB News as it emerged he will not be making his expected return next week to work at the station he founded.
Amid frayed relations between Neil and executives running the station, the former Sky anchor Colin Brazier said on Twitter on Friday that he would once again be in the presenting chair of his colleague’s show on Monday.
The continued absence of Neil – who is also chairman of GB News – comes as the station is planning for a relaunch, which is likely to differ from his original vision.
In the time since the former BBC broadcaster took a holiday two months ago, GB News has made Nigel Farage its star presenter and is rebuilding elsewhere in the image of the former Ukip and Brexit party politician.
While Neil has hosted only eight of the 52 episodes of his eponymous show on GB News and it remains unclear when or if he will return, he still found time to make an appearance on Friday’s edition of an online show produced by the Spectator, where he is chairman.
He also promoted it on his Twitter account, where tweets by him about GB News are marked by their relative absence. When he last presented his GB News show on 24 June, Neil told viewers he was taking a break and that he would be “back before the summer is out”.
Other new hires this week by GB News included the announcement on Friday that Isabel Oakeshott, a former journalist at the Sunday Times and Daily Mail, would present one of the station’s forthcoming daily political programmes, The Briefing.
The announcement earlier this week that the station had hired the veteran home affairs and crime journalist Mark White, who joins from Sky News, is being seen as a potential area of focus for the channel, which has relatively few general news reporters or specialists in other areas.
Sources at GB News continue to push back against suggestions that Farage and other aspects of its programming demonstrate that it is a UK version of Fox News in the making.
They point to the fact that other new shows will include one presented by the former Labour MP Gloria De Piero. Tom Harwood and Darren McCaffrey will present other editions of the same show, The Briefing, at different times of the day.
As evidence of what it views as a growing reach, those at station say it has beaten Sky News’ peak audience on a number of occasions. They pointed to ratings for Thursday night between 7pm and 11pm which indicated that GB News had 71.45% of the audience that Sky News had.
But Neil’s absence is understood to continue to cast a shadow among young GB News staff who had to put up with technical problems at its launch. They are known to be becoming increasingly exasperated by the fact that Neil is not present and feel abandoned.