Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

LABOUR’S John McDonnell has accused chancellor Sajid Javid of “running scared” after he refused to take part in a television debate with his opposition rivals.

After McDonnell was told that the 90-minute piece proposed for Sunday has been shelved, the shadow minister accused Javid of being afraid to defend Tory “fake news” about Labour’s spending plans.

Channel 4 said in a statement that plans for the debate are “currently on hold” as it was “not possible to reach an agreement with all parties”.

In a video challenge to Javid to take part in the TV showdown, McDonnell said: “He is terrified of debating the truth about Labour’s policies.

“He has been putting forward silly fictitious fake news figures that we will rip apart.

“Let’s make it absolutely clear. We will be bringing forward our manifesto. It will be fully costed, all the funding sources identified. And yes, only the top 5 per cent of earners will pay a bit more income tax. Ninety-five per cent of our people will not face any increase in income tax, VAT or national insurance.”

The Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, meanwhile, urged Channel 4 to “empty chair” the Conservative Party if they refuse to attend the debate.

“It’s frankly embarrassing that the Tory chancellor is doing a chicken run and refusing to defend his party’s record,” he was quoted as saying.

“The debate must go ahead – it would be a huge disservice to voters if broadcasters allowed the Tories to shut down debate and rig media coverage of the election in their favour.”

Both the Tories are Labour are planning big rises to end austerity. Labour’s £55 billion a year investment plan is higher than the Tories’ £20 billion.

Labour is currently trailing prime minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in the polls.

Labour has promised that their economic plan would result in an “irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth in favour of working people”.