Lucy Skoulding looks at a rocky start to the week for the Tory front-runner...
Favourite for the Tory leadership position Boris Johnson has finally spoken out after accusations that he was staying out of the public eye too much.
Johnson’s rival for the prime minister role Jeremy Hunt called the former Mayor of London a ‘bottler’ for declining a Sky News debate on Tuesday 25 June. He has finally broken the silence…though he’s still refusing to debate Hunt on TV.
Brexit is all ‘positive energy’
In an interview with the BBC on Monday, Johnson finally started talking more about his Brexit plans. He defended his aim to renegotiate a deal with the EU but was clear that he could not destroy the whole withdrawal agreement, a line that may anger some Eurosceptic hardliners.
When queried, Johnson said issues like the Irish border would be tackled after the UK formally leaves the EU in “what’s called the implementation period”. Yet he was forced to accept that the UK would get no such implementation period unless it signs up to the current withdrawal agreement.
“There’s no single magic bullet, but what there is, is a wealth of experience, a wealth of solutions and what’s changed now is that there is a real positive energy about getting it done,” the former Mayor of London said.
Potential prime minister already making mistakes
Johnson’s cautious return to the limelight has already seen him and his team making some major blunders.
A heated discussion between Daniel Kawczynski MP, who backs Johnson, and BBC Radio 5 Live’s Emma Barnett revealed that Johnson appears to have got facts wrong around whether free trade is possible under Gatt 24 in a no deal Brexit.
The BBC broadcaster pointed out Johnson “mumbled something” about Gatt 24, which everyone then had to look up, and whatever he said ‘is simply not true’ and is “a total misunderstanding of how we can leave on no deal”.
When asked if this is concerning, Kawczynski avoids the question for a while and when he eventually answers, he says he believes Johnson is correct, to which Barnett replies “you don’t believe facts”. Brutal.
Johnson’s meeting with Bannon completely ignored
Johnson’s meeting with far-right activist Steve Bannon has been completely ignored by the BBC and everyone is up in arms about it.
The Observer obtained a video of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Bannon, talking about his relationship with our potential next prime minister and revealing he helped Johnson write the first speech he gave after resigning as foreign secretary, in which he ripped apart Theresa May’s Brexit plans.
In footage shot by American film-maker Alison Klayman, Bannon admits he and Johnson were in close contact, especially around the time he resigned.
Omid Djalili tweeted about the revelation: “Keep searching The BBC for any mention of Boris Johnson meeting Steve Bannon – nothing. I guess a man who could be our next PM blatantly lying about taking advice from a white supremacist is just not in the public interest.”
Johnson’s full interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg can be viewed here.
Lucy Skoulding is a freelance reporter at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.
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