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Boris Johnson repeatedly refuses to answer questions about police being called to row with partner

Leadership favourite blocks three attempts to extract explanation for domestic dispute – claiming Tory members ‘don’t want to hear about that kind of thing’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Saturday 22 June 2019 16:48 BST
Conservative leadership hustings: Boris Johnson on police coming to his house following domestic row

Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to answer questions about police being called to a loud altercation with his partner, in an evasive and flustered performance in front of the Conservative grassroots.

The Tory leadership favourite blocked – on three occasions – an interviewer’s attempt, at the first hustings at Birmingham on Saturday, to extract an explanation for the incident that has cast a shadow over his bid for No 10.

Instead, Mr Johnson insisted the audience of Conservative members wanted to know “what my plans are for my country and for the party”. “I don’t think they want to hear about that kind of thing,” the former foreign secretary claimed.

Trying to change the subject, Mr Johnson said: “People are entitled to ask about my determination and my character. When I make a promise in politics, I keep that promise and I deliver.”

Some Tory members booed when the interviewer, broadcaster Iain Dale, pursued the issue of the police being called to the flat he shares with his girlfriend.

Mr Johnson, who was cheered throughout by members of the audience, said: “Look at my determination to deliver for people who vote for me. When I say I will deliver X, I generally deliver X+10.”

He claimed: “Most people would really rather judge my ambitions and my character and my programme.”

Mr Johnson’s campaign has been destabilised by the domestic dispute at the south London flat he shares with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds, a former Tory aide.

Ms Symonds was heard screaming and telling the 55-year-old Tory leadership favourite to “get off me” and “get out of my flat”.

A recording of the incident, in the early hours of Friday morning, revealed Mr Johnson shouted at Ms Symonds to “get off my f***ing laptop” before a loud crashing noise was heard.

She was heard complaining that he had spilled red wine on her sofa, before adding: “You just don’t care for anything because you’re spoilt. You have no care for money or anything.”

The neighbour, who recorded the row, told The Guardian: “There was a smashing sound of what sounded like plates. There was a couple of very loud screams that I’m certain were Carrie and she was shouting to ‘get out’ a lot.”

Speaking later, Jeremy Hunt, Mr Johnson’s leadership rival, turned on the frontrunner, branding him a “populist” and “the wrong person” to send to Brussels. “If we send the wrong person, catastrophe awaits,” the foreign secretary told the Tory faithful.

“If we send the wrong person, there will be renegotiation, no trust and no deal – and, if parliament stops that, maybe no Brexit.” He pledged not to “provoke a general election before we have left the European Union”, adding “that would kill us” and put Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.

“Faced with a hard-left populist, we could choose our own populist, or we could do better – we could choose our own Jeremy,” Mr Hunt argued, to applause.

Both candidates claimed to be able to negotiate an improved Brexit agreement with the European Union, but without explaining how – given the EU’s absolute refusal to reopen talks.

Mr Hunt matched Mr Johnson by vowing to crash out of the EU on the 31 October deadline if his efforts failed, saying he would do that “100 per cent“, although it would not be his choice.

Mr Johnson also admitted he did say “f**k business”, while insisting it was “one stray remark to the Belgian ambassador” that had been “wrenched out of context”.

Parading his pro-business credentials, he said – in a comment certain to be seized on by Labour – that “I can’t think of anyone, after the crash in 2008, who stuck up as much for the bankers as me. I stuck up for them day in and day out”.

The “f**k business” attack had been targeted at “very powerful lobby groups who wanted to have a particular type of exit – or non-exit – from the European Union”, he said.

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