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Tory leadership race – LIVE: Boris Johnson’s media blitz off to difficult start as he struggles to answer questions on ‘staged’ photo and no-deal Brexit

Tory leadership race – LIVE: Boris Johnson’s media blitz off to difficult start as he struggles to answer questions on ‘staged’ photo and no-deal Brexit

Boris Johnson has again declined to discuss in detail a late-night quarrel at his home, saying it was “simply unfair” to “drag” his loved ones into the political arena in an interview with the BBC.

Although the Conservative leadership frontrunner claimed he “made it rule” not to drag family into politics, Labour MP Jo Stevens accused him of taking part in an “obviously staged” photo with his partner Carrie Symonds.

After rival Jeremy Hunt accused him of ducking public scrutiny, Mr Johnson has a flurry of broadcast interviews and visits in the south east planned for Tuesday. A spokesman from his camp claimed: “We’re definitely stepping it up.”

We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.

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2019-06-25T11:54:20.466Z

In January 2017 Theresa May enjoyed a huge poll lead over Labour – the most commanding “political honeymoon” of any modern Conservative prime minister – as she marked six months in No 10.

It’s fair to say the new Tory leader – whether it is Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt – will see an abrupt end to their own honeymoon shortly after entering office, if they are indeed lucky enough to have one at all.

They will inherit the parliamentary arithmetic that plagued May’s government ever since the snap general election, resulting in three defeats to her Brexit agreement and the halting of any radical domestic reforms.


2019-06-25T11:36:30.616Z

Conservative Party HQ has just revealed the new prime minister will be announced on Tuesday 23 July – the day after the ballot of Tory members closes.

They have not yet announced when the new PM will be in place, and whether Theresa May will end her premiership with prime minister’s questions on Wednesday 24 July.


2019-06-25T11:15:44.593Z

In Commons just now, Emily Thornberry has just congratulated Jeremy Hunt to making it into the final two in the Tory leadership contest, “and being the the only candidate who has the police outside his house for the right reasons”


2019-06-25T10:57:30.960Z

Boris Johnson has backtracked on his much-ridiculed plan for avoiding punishing tariffs after a no-deal Brexit, admitting he would be unable to do it “unilaterally”.

In a difficult interview, the frontrunner for No 10 acknowledged the Bank of England governor was “right” to criticise his plan to use a trade law known as “Gatt 24” to avoid border duties.

“Where Mark [Carney] is right is in saying that implies mutuality – that has to be an agreement on both sides,” Mr Johnson agreed.


2019-06-25T10:50:32.240Z

Meanwhile in the House of Commons, foreign office minister Alan Duncan had some thoughts to offer MPs on the Conservative leadership contest

And foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt was asked about to ongoing situation in Hong Kong


2019-06-25T10:43:51.900Z

Boris Johnson has “absolutely” denied having close contacts with far-right US agitator Steve Bannon.

Questions were raised over the degree of the former Trump aide’s influence over the Tory leadership frontrunner after footage emerged of Bannon claiming to have discussed a crucial speech with him.

But Mr Johnson insisted that the “sum total” of his contacts with Bannon since he left the White House were a few text messages about a possible meeting on the occasion of Donald Trump‘s visit to the UK last year.


2019-06-25T10:16:31.146Z

Asked who he would have liked to have been if not born Boris Johnson, he says Pericles of Athens, “because he was the first to say politics is for the many, not the few.”


2019-06-25T10:12:04.443Z

Boris Johnson in his interview with TalkRadio repeats his claim that he wants to keep the “best bits” of Theresa May’s Brexit deal, but wants to keep the existing agreements with the EU until a free trade agreement is reached with the bloc. 

He categorically rules out a further Brexit extension, and says the date is “do, or die”.

Asked whether he will resign if he can’t get the UK out by the 31st October, he says it is fundamental for the trust of people in politics Britain leaves the EU.


2019-06-25T10:03:28.830Z

Frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest Boris Johnson is about to do another interview this morning with TalkRADIO. We’ll bring you any of the top lines.


2019-06-25T09:34:08.270Z

Boris Johnson’s constituents have said he should “face the music” and take part in a live TV debate so the public can hear what he has to say if he wants to become prime minister.

The Tory leadership frontrunner was branded a “bottler” and a “coward” by opponent Jeremy Hunt for refusing to face scrutiny after Sky News was forced to cancel a debate between the pair. 

The former foreign secretary has faced mounting pressure to answer questions about the police being called to the Camberwell home he shares with girlfriend Carrie Symonds after a loud late-night altercation.


2019-06-25T09:06:47.880Z

Asked what the was the biggest mistake, either the Garden Bridge or the unused water cannons, he says he is deeply proud of his record as London mayor.


2019-06-25T09:04:38.296Z

On suggestions of links between himself and the far-right former adviser to Donald Trump, Mr Johnson says it’s the “biggest load of codswallop”

“I met Mr Bannon in the White House when he was chief of staff to the president… he text me on a couple of occasions trying to fix a meeting – that was not possible, I was otherwise occupied. 

“This is turned… into some crazy alt-right conspiracy,” he claims.


2019-06-25T08:59:54.346Z

Boris Johnson agrees with the LGBT+ lessons in schools across the UK, saying: “I do think it’s important kids are taught as the world as it is – so my answer to you is yes.”

He adds his stands by the pledge on the side of the EU referendum bus to bring back £350m a year to the UK – a claim that has been widely discredited. 


2019-06-25T08:56:07.573Z

On his live LBC call in, Boris Johnson is asked about “spaffing” £40-odd million while London mayor on the Garden Bridge.

But Johnson claims it was an excellent project, and cancelled by his successor Sadiq Khan. He says there was ample private funding for it to have proceeded.

On Nazanin Zagarhi-Ratcliffe, he says the more we blame ourselves (or him) it easier for the Iranians to keep her captive in such an inhumane way.


2019-06-25T08:51:45.950Z

Johnson says we need “creative ambiguity” about the £39bn divorce bill, and how much will be paid. 

He says the UK will not impose border checks in Northern Ireland, and claims there are other techniques you can use.

Asked whether he can see the EU buying this, he replies: “Yes”. 

Johnson says it is time the country stop being so “down about its ability” to get Brexit done, and “not to continue with the same failed approach.”

He warned the Tories would “continue to haemorrhage voters” if the UK did not leave the EU.

He claimed that “politics has totally changed” since March 29 and “we are staring down the barrel of defeat”.

He told LBC: “People are looking at this thing and thinking ‘Parliament is just not going to do this’.

“But, actually, I think they are.”


2019-06-25T08:47:16.643Z

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Boris Johnson has refused to deny that a photo of him apparently making up with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds was staged.

The Tory leadership favourite blocked multiple questions about whether he knew how the snap, of the pair in the Sussex countryside, ended up in newspapers.


2019-06-25T08:45:51.070Z

On police numbers, he says the home secretary Sajid Javid believes there should be an extra 20,000 officers on the street. 

Johnson says this is correct, and he wants to find the money to fund this pledge. “We’d want to get more police out on the streets,” but refuses to engage in any timeframe. 


2019-06-25T08:38:38.983Z

Mr Johnson – pressed on whether he is a “coward” – says he will never speak ill of a fellow conservative, after Jeremy Hunt issued the attack on the frontrunner for not appearing in tonight’s Sky News debate.

“I’m doing 16 hustings, I’ve already done several. I’m doing several TV debates – we’re doing something for ITV. All of which we’re looking forward to massively,” he says. 

Asked about his “private life” being of interest to journalists, he says of course and accepts that. “Newspaper and other outlets are going to want to speculate,” he says. 

Pressed on whether the image of the himself and his partner came from, he continues to avoid the question. “I can’t determine what the newspapers decide to print.

“There are all sorts of pictures of me on the internet that pop up from time to time.”

“Of course I knew there was a picture like that in existence.”

He says he had a very nice haircut by someone called either “Kelly” or “Tamara”. The sort of attention to detail needed in the Brexit negotiations.

 


2019-06-25T08:33:05.613Z

Boris Johnson, the leadership contender, is now appearing on LBC Radio. According to the Press Association he dodged waiting journalists as he arrived at the studios.

The front-runner to become the next prime minister was driven past a group of photographers and reporters into a private car park beneath the Global radio office in Leicester Square.


2019-06-25T07:56:58.033Z

A definitive shift in Labour’s Brexit policy has been put on hold after the Unite union dug its heels in against moves to throw the party’s full weight behind a second referendum and a Remain vote.

Hopes that a change in position would be agreed on Tuesday at a crunch shadow cabinet meeting were dashed after the union’s intervention in talks with Jeremy Corbyn.

Senior shadow cabinet ministers including Tom Watson, the deputy leader and Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, will continue to press for full-throated support for a Final Say vote, but now believe they will have to wait longer for a breakthrough.

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