Boris Johnson confronted by single mother on live radio show after saying their children are ‘ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate’

Caller says her children ‘suffered the stigma’, demanding to know, ‘Why are you happy to criticise people like me when you refuse to discuss your family?’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Friday 29 November 2019 11:26 GMT
Boris Johnson on single mothers quote: 'The quotations that are used are an absolute distortion of what I say and what I think'

Boris Johnson has been confronted over his attack on single mothers for their “ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate” children, but refused to apologise.

The prime minister was strongly criticised on a radio show for an article in which he also suggested social housing could be an “enticement” for young women to have babies.

A caller demanded to know: “Why are you happy to criticise people like me when you refuse to discuss your family?” – adding that her children had “suffered the stigma” of such comments.

But Mr Johnson attempted to deny he made the criticisms, claiming: “The quotations that are used are an absolute distortion of what I say and what I think.”

The prime minister went on to claim that the resurfacing of the article, written in 1995, was “yet another attempt by the Labour to distract from the fundamental issue”, which was Brexit.

Nick Ferrari, the LBC presenter, suggested Mr Johnson might pay a price for his attack on single mothers and the working-class, saying: “You have dismissed quite a chunk of the electorate there prime minister, haven’t you.”

Working-class men were dismissed as “likely to be drunk, criminal, aimless, feckless and hopeless”, in the column for The Spectator magazine in 1995.

He also asked the prime minister – who has a 10-year-old child from an extramarital affair and is thought to have a second love child – “how many” children he had fathered.

But Mr Johnson declined to answer, saying: “I love my children very much but they are not standing at this election.”

During the interview, the prime minister defended his decision to boycott the Channel 4 debate – where he was replaced by an ice sculpture – claiming: “I’ve done plenty of debates, I can’t do absolutely everything.”

He declined to say that Jacob Rees-Mogg – who has been removed from the central campaign after his highly offensive Grenfell comments – will retain his cabinet job.

And he got into difficulties over the false claim that the Conservatives would boost nursing numbers by 50,000 – when that included retaining 19,000 existing staff – arguing he meant 50,000 “more” nurses, not “new” ones.

Mr Johnson also said Donald Trump should not intervene in the election campaign when he comes to the UK for a Nato summit next week, amid Conservative fears that his support will backfire.

“When you have close allies like the US and UK, the best thing is for neither side to be involved in each other’s election campaigns,” he said.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s education spokesperson, said: “Boris Johnson’s refusal to apologise for his hateful comments about single mothers, their children and working-class men is an absolute disgrace.

“He tried to deny what he wrote, but the evidence is there in black and white for us all to see, proving once again that he’s a liar as well as a sexist.”

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