The Boris Johnson campaign has today responded to accusations that Johnson has been avoiding scrutiny by sending their candidate on a mini-media blitz.
In the past 24 hours, Johnson has given interviews to the BBC, LBC and Talk Radio. There’s even a promise of more media interaction to come. In all of the interviews, the former mayor of London refused to answer questions on his private life – on the issue of why police were called on Friday night to the apartment he shares with his partner Carrie Symonds. He did, however, send social media into a frenzy when he was asked how he liked to relax and replied that it involved making model buses out of old wine crates.
The policy message from today’s interviews and campaign appearances was on Brexit – and what the dividing line is between Johnson and his rival Jeremy Hunt. Johnson has given various answers about whether as prime minister he would take the UK out of the EU by the end of October – deal or no deal.
At the One Nation hustings, he told me that a failure to do so would mean the Tories ‘faced extinction’. Since then, he appeared to soften slightly on the issue – saying instead that leaving on time was entirely ‘feasible’.
Today, in a Talk Radio interview he appeared to give himself no wriggle room on the issue saying that he was committed to it as it was a ‘do or die’ matter. Since then, Johnson has taken to Twitter to ask Hunt to also commit to an end of October deadline.
If I become PM, we will leave the EU on 31st October, deal or no deal. Today I have asked @Jeremy_Hunt whether he will also commit to this date, no matter what. We must keep our promises to the British people and deliver Brexit – no ifs, no buts, and no second referendum. pic.twitter.com/YgRSfESSFY
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) June 25, 2019
Hunt has already conceded that his Brexit strategy could see a slight delay to Brexit if he believed that extra time would lead to a new deal. It follows that the Johnson camp know what the Foreign Secretary’s answer is already.
After a difficult few days which have seen Johnson’s private life plastered on the front pages for four days in a row, this is his campaign’s attempt to change the topic and get back on the front foot.
The Hunt camp’s likely response will be that Johnson’s tactics risk an early election. What should help Johnson is that, as a whole, the party membership care more about delivering Brexit on time than his romantic life.