Boris Johnson refuses to answer question about private life 26 times

Boris Johnson has branded media coverage of his private life a “waste of time” as he came under pressure to respond to the fallout over reports of a domestic disturbance with his girlfriend.

The frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest refused to answer questions about what led to police being called to the south London home he shares with Carrie Symonds on last Friday.

In a radio interview this morning Mr Johnson dodged questions about whether he staged a photo in a Sussex field with Ms Symonds after the disturbance and gave the image to the press.

LBC said he refused to answer a question about when the photo was taken a total of 26 times.

Mr Johnson was interviewed on LBC radio on Tuesday (Picture: PA)

In another radio interview, this time with TalkRadio, Mr Johnson insisted the UK would be leaving the EU on the October 31 deadline "do or die, come what may".

He said some "positive energy" would help deliver Brexit, hitting out at the "pathetic" efforts of Theresa May's administration - a government in which he served as foreign secretary for two years until July 2018.

"I've never seen such morosity and gloom from a government," he said.

The picture was on the front page of the Daily Mail

"For three years we've been sitting around wrapped in defeatism telling the British public that they can't do this or that. It is pathetic, it's absolutely pathetic."

Evading questions about his private life in an interview with Nick Ferrari on LBC on Tuesday, Mr Johnson said: "The longer we spend on things extraneous to what I want to do... the bigger the waste of time."

In the same interview, Mr Johnson admitted his plan for a Brexit free-trade agreement would require a huge amount of goodwill from the EU to work.

He claimed he would be able to succeed where Theresa May failed to deliver Brexit because ‘politics has changed’ since 29 March.

Mr Johnson said MPs would support no deal despite the fact parliament has voted a number of times to block it.

He said: "People are looking at this thing and thinking 'Parliament is just not going to do this'. But, actually, I think they are."

Picture: PA

Asked about reports that US president Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Steve Bannon, was advising his own bid for top office, Mr Johnson said: “This is the biggest load of codswallop I have ever heard.”

On Monday, Mr Johnson defended his silence over the late-night row with his partner, saying it was “unfair” to drag loved ones into politics.

Asked what happened that night in an often heated TV interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, Mr Johnson said he did not want to "drag" his family and loved ones into the political spotlight.

He said: "I would love to tell you about all sorts of things, Laura, but I've made it a rule over many, many years - and I think you've interviewed me loads of times - I do not talk about stuff involving my family, my loved ones.

Mr Johnson leaves a radio interview at LBC in central London on Tuesday (Picture: PA)

"And there's a very good reason for that. That is that, if you do, you drag them into things that… in a way that is not fair on them."

Mr Johnson was asked whether privacy meant more to him than public trust and responded: "Yes I get that, I totally get that.

"But my key point though is that the minute you start talking about your family or your loved ones, you involve them in a debate that is it is simply unfair on them."

Boris Johnson refused to answer questions about the reported row at his home (Picture: BBC)
Mr Johnson was grilled by BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg (Picture: BBC)

The issue of a photograph of the couple at the weekend in a field in Sussex that emerged on Monday was raised, with Ms Kuenssberg suggesting the former mayor of London could be "trying to have this both ways".

Mr Johnson dodged the question, saying "I just do not go into this stuff" and referred to "innumerable statements I gave when I was mayor".

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In the interview, Mr Johnson called for a "commonsensical" no-deal Brexit to be left on the table to allow the "incubus" to be "pitchforked off the back of British politics".

He called on the UK to "abandon the defeatism and negativity" as he claimed the route out of the impasse was "to prepare confidently and seriously for a WTO (World Trade Organisation) or no-deal outcome".

The former foreign secretary criticised the UK negotiating team for being the "authors of our own incarceration" in creating the backstop to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Mr Johnson's partner, Carrie Symonds (Picture: PA/Getty)
Mr Johnson's partner, Carrie Symonds, with his father, Stanley, at an anti-whaling protest in London (Picture: PA/Getty)

Suggesting he would dump the negotiators, Mr Johnson said: "Change the approach of the UK negotiators and you have a very different outcome."

But when picked up on what would enable the UK to avoid any backstop, Mr Johnson could not name an existing technology.

He also insisted he would have time to come up with an alternative to the backstop during an implementation period - despite this being part of Theresa May's deal, which he had earlier dismissed as "dead".

Jeremy Hunt criticised his rival's lack of media time (Picture: Getty)

Justice Secretary David Gauke, who backed Rory Stewart in the race, tweeted: "Can we all agree on the following?

"The implementation period is one element of the withdrawal agreement. Without the withdrawal agreement, no implementation period has been agreed.

"Leaving without a deal on 31 October means leaving without an implementation period."

Mr Johnson’s decision to go in front of the cameras represents a shift in strategy after the normally high-profile candidate was dubbed "a coward" by leadership rival Jeremy Hunt for refusing to take part in televised debates.

Mr Johnson continues to cause confusion with his claims about Article 24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), saying the UK can have a standstill in its current trade agreements with the EU while a free trade deal is negotiated.

But Article 24 does not remove the need to strike a deal with the EU, and such an agreement using this is unlikely to happen.

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