Tory leadership candidate says his rival needs to show he can answer difficult questions
Jeremy Hunt has increased the pressure on Boris Johnson to explain why police were called to his home after a row with his partner by warning that the Conservative leadership frontrunner needs to show he can answer difficult questions.
Hunt whose remarks follow calls by the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, for Johnson to explain himself used a television interview to suggest his leadership rival had shied away from scrutiny, telling Sky News: This is an audition to be prime minister of the UK If Boris is refusing to answer questions in the media, refusing to do live debates then of course people are thinking, just who are we going to get as PM?
The foreign secretary added: What happens in peoples personal lives is really a matter for them. But his intervention over Johnsons refusal to engage with the media will be seen as a coded reference to his opponents appearance at the first hustings of the leadership race on Saturday, in which he stonewalled persistent questions about the incident, which took place in the early hours of Friday morning.
Asked if he agreed with claims that Johnsons private life made him a security risk, Hunt said: I would never make those comments myself.
The story emerged after a neighbour told the Guardian he had been so concerned by a loud, late-night altercation between Johnson and his partner, Carrie Symonds, that he had felt obliged to call the police. Other neighbours confirmed the row took place and said they had been concerned by its intensity.
Hunts attack is the latest broadside in a ferocious debate over Johnsons conduct, in which a number of senior Conservatives have called on the frontrunner to explain what happened.
On Sunday morning, Fox said it was time for Johnson to openly explain the incident so the contest could get away from these distractions and return to the two candidates plans as prime minister.
Fox, a supporter of Hunt, told the BBCs Andrew Marr Show: Its always easier to give an explanation, then we can discuss the policies.
The former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind also urged Johnson to explain what happened or arouse suspicions that he was hiding something.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: 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 dont just say no comment. That implies you may have something you dont want to disclose.
It was a lack of judgment 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.
Asked on Sunday about the incident, Johnsons supporters insisted it was irrelevant to the leadership contest. The chief secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss, told BBC Radio 5 Live: Theres no point in asking me, I believe its a private matter, I dont think the public are concerned about that.
Police confirmed they were called to the couples south London flat after a loud argument was heard by neighbours, who said they heard slamming and banging, adding that at one point Symonds could be heard telling Johnson to get off me and get out of my flat.
A poll conducted on Saturday showed support for Johnson had fallen sharply following the incident. His eight-point lead earlier in the week had fallen to three points behind Hunt by Saturday morning. Among Tory voters, when asked who would make the best prime minister, Johnsons lead had slumped from 27% to 11% in the same period, according to Survation, which carried out the polls for the Mail on Sunday.
Andrew Gwynne, the shadow secretary of state for communities and local government, said Johnson was completely unsuitable to be prime minister.
He told Sky Newss Sophy Ridge on Sunday: In one sense, of course, it is a private matter, but when youre running for public office, when you are wanting to be the prime minister of the UK, then these matters are in the public interest.
The neighbour who contacted the police, Tom Penn, 30, issued a statement saying he wanted to put the record straight on his reasons for recording the row and calling 999.
Penn, a playwright, said he acted only as a last resort and that he was speaking out because he was concerned by the bizarre and fictitious allegations made about him and his wife.
Penn said: In the early hours of Friday morning, I answered a phone call from a takeaway food delivery driver. At the same time, I heard what sounded like shouting coming from the street. I went downstairs, on the phone to the driver, and collected my food. On the way back into my flat, it became clear that the shouting was coming from a neighbours flat. It was loud enough and angry enough that I felt frightened and concerned for the welfare of those involved, so I went inside my own home, closed the door, and pressed record on the voice memos app on my phone.
After a loud scream and banging, followed by silence, I ran upstairs, and with my wife agreed we should check on our neighbours. I knocked three times at their front door, but there was no response. I went back upstairs into my flat, and we agreed that we should call the police.
Another neighbour, Fatimah, a nursery teacher who lives with her husband and four-year-old son in the top flat next door, told the Times she could hear shouting and screaming Ive never heard anything like it.
This post was curated & Posted using : RealSpecific
If you enjoyed our content, we'd really appreciate some "love" with a share or two.
And ... Don't forget to have fun!