Boris Johnson under pressure to explain police incident


Boris Johnson under pressure to explain police incident
Boris Johnson attends the first leadership hustings on Saturday in Birmingham. PHOTO | CNN

In Summary

  • Johnson ducked repeated questions during a leadership hustings in Birmingham the day before. Questioned by journalist and CNN Talk host Iain Dale, he said: "I don't think they want hear about that kind of thing," prompting applause from party members.

Boris Johnson, the front-runner in the race to become Britain’s next prime minister, was facing mounting calls Sunday to fully explain an incident in which police attended an alleged altercation at the London home he shares with his girlfriend.

Johnson ducked repeated questions during a leadership hustings in Birmingham the day before. Questioned by journalist and CNN Talk host Iain Dale, he said: “I don’t think they want hear about that kind of thing,” prompting applause from party members. “I think what they want to hear is what my plans are for the country and the party.”

But former Conservative Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind told the BBC: “If you are a candidate to be prime minister and the police have been called to your house — fairly or unfairly — the fact is there was a police visit. You don’t just say ‘no comment.’

“That implies you may have something you don’t want to disclose.”

Rifkind, who hinted he might back Johnson’s rival Jeremy Hunt in the race to be the next Conservative leader, and by extension the next PM, added: “It was a lack of judgement to refuse to even make a short comment. All he could have said, quite reasonably, would have been that in all relationships there are occasionally outbursts of anger and disagreement.”

The opposition Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer tweeted the Guardian’s initial story about the alleged dispute with the comment, “Was there ever a man less suited to be Prime Minister?”

Another Labour opposition politician, Andrew Gwynne, said Sunday Johnson was “completely unsuitable” to be PM.

He told Sky News: “In one sense, of course, it is a private matter, but when you’re running for public office, when you are wanting to be the prime minister of the UK, then these matters are in the public interest.”

But Gwynne added that Johnson’s actions as a politician were more important. “I just think his record throughout his time both as mayor of London — wasting money on the garden bridge, wasting money on Routemaster buses, wasting money on water cannon that couldn’t be used — through to his disastrous tenure as foreign secretary just renders him completely, I think, unsuitable to be the prime minister of our great country.”

Johnson evades questions

In the town hall event in Birmingham, Johnson was asked at least four variations of the question by Dale, who finally suggested Johnson was simply not going to answer the question.

“I think that’s pretty obvious,” the former foreign secretary and leading Brexiteer said.

The Guardian reported late Friday that a neighbor of Johnson’s girlfriend Carrie Symonds had heard an argument from her apartment, knocked on the door, got no response, and called the police.

The neighbor, who reportedly recorded the altercation, told the Guardian that Symonds could be heard telling Johnson “get off me” and “get out of my flat.”

In the recording, Symonds said Johnson had ruined her sofa with red wine. “You just don’t care for anything because you’re spoilt. You have no care for money or anything,” she said according to the Guardian.

Johnson was also heard saying “get off my f***ing laptop” before a loud crashing noise, the paper reported.

The Metropolitan Police issued a statement confirming that a “caller was concerned for the welfare of a female neighbour.”

The police arrived and “spoke to all occupants of the address, who were all safe and well,” adding: “There were no offences or concerns apparent to the officers and there was no cause for police action.”

But they did not name Johnson or Symonds as being involved in the incident.

Symonds has not made a public comment about the incident, which is reported to have happened in the early hours on Friday.

The police arrived and “spoke to all occupants of the address, who were all safe and well,” adding: “There were no offences or concerns apparent to the officers and there was no cause for police action.”

But they did not name Johnson or Symonds as being involved in the incident.

Symonds has not made a public comment about the incident, which is reported to have happened in the early hours on Friday.

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