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Coffee House

Full transcript: Boris Johnson grilled by Andrew Neil

12 July 2019

8:00 PM

12 July 2019

8:00 PM

AN: Boris Johnson, we’re going to talk a lot about policy, but I first want to talk about you, because for many people – including many Tories – your character, your reputation, trust in you is as big an issue as the policies you stand for. Do you accept that that’s a problem for you?

BJ: No, I don’t at all. I think what people want to see is what my plans are to come out of the EU on October 31st, to get that deal done, take us beyond Brexit and unite the country. And I’ve got a lot of things that I think will be fantastic Conservative policies. I think they want to hear about that, they want to hear about what we can do to fight crime, and I think they’ll be interested to know what – the last time I was asked to – to fight crime here in this city, what we did in getting it down by, I think, about 20 per cent overall. The murder rate down by about 50 per cent. If people are interested in – in – in my character and my political credo or whatever, look at what I deliver.

AN: It went down 20 per cent in London when you were Mayor, crime?

BJ: Crime went down roughly 20 per cent when I was Mayor.

AN: How much did it go down at the same time in the rest of the country?

BJ: Well –

AN: By 26 per cent.

BJ: Well, look at the murder rate in London.

AN: That fell in the rest of the country too.

BJ: And – and it was –

AN: So you were behind the rest of the country.

BJ: No, the murder rate in London, I – I don’t believe the murder rate in the rest of the country went down by 50 per cent. Did it?

AN: Overall crime went down (talking over) faster in the rest of the country. And the murder rate was roughly similar as it fell. Yeah. So you didn’t outpace the country. You were part of a national trend.

BJ: If you look at what we did in London, we had a murder rate when I came in running about 160 a year, something like that. We got it down over four – look at the – look at the graph. We got it down over four or five years to fewer than 100 murders in a city the size of eight and a half, nine million. That was a remarkable achievement. And that was because we had some very robust policing and we backed the police to go out and do their job. And a particular problem we had was with knife crime and gang crime, and we backed the police to do stop and search in a way that was systematic, that was –

AN: And that’s become your policy.

BJ: That was humane but also drove down that particular form of violence.

AN: My point it simply that compared to the rest of the country it was nothing very special. But let us move on and see whether –

BJ: I think the people of London appreciated it and they noticed it.

AN: Of course they did. Everybody appreciates when crime falls. But did we… (talking over) No, no, no, not by the way, no, no, no. No…

BJ: No?

AN: You will follow the questions I want to ask, not the ones you want to be asked. Did we get the measure of the man this week, you – our Ambassador in America, Kim Darroch, he found himself at the centre of a storm, he couldn’t count on your support –

BJ: That’s not true at all.

AN: He decided he had to resign. Why didn’t you stand up for our man in Washington?

BJ: On the contrary, I – I stood up completely for the principle that civil servants should be allowed to say what they want to their political masters without fear or favour, and –

AN: You were asked four times in the ITV debate to offer him your support.

BJ: And, and I thought it was disgraceful –

AN: Why did you not offer him your support?

BJ: I support the principle that all civil servants should be able to say what they want to their political masters without fear or favour. And the real culprits in this–

AN: Why did you not offer him your support?

BJ: The real culprits in this, the real culprits in this are the people who leaked that material.

AN: You see you’re doing what you’ve done throughout this campaign – no, you can’t –

BJ: You’re making a false assertion, you’re making a false assertion –
AN: You’re doing what you’ve done throughout this campaign. You get asked a question and then you go on to something else which is sideline to the actual issue. What I’m asking you is that when you were asked four times in the ITV debate to support our man in Washington you did not do so. After watching it, he was so dismayed by your failure to do so it was one of the reasons he resigned.

BJ: Actually I spoke to him the following day and said how sad I was that he had resigned, and he pointed out that he didn’t watch it. So you might need to check your facts, Andrew, before you make –

AN: He didn’t say to you that what you had said – he didn’t say to you (talking over) –

BJ: He told me he had not watched the show.

AN: Well, I’m told that he watched it with his wife in the residence.

BJ: Well, I’ve just spoken to him two days ago –

AN: Did he say that you – Did he say that you played any part in his resignation?

BJ: My view is that it was very sad.

AN: No, did he say that to you?

BJ: That he resigned. And what he said was that somebody had relayed to him what I had said. And I – I did –

AN: Did it play a factor in his resignation?

BJ: He said that what somebody had relayed to him had certainly played, had been a factor in his resignation –

AN: So what – your lack of support for him was a factor in his resignation?

BJ: I think that unfortunately what I – what I said on that TV debate was misrepresented to Kim. And I –

AN: The Foreign Secretary has told us on this programme that it was a factor (talking over).

BJ: I don’t think that it was right, if I may say so, I don’t think that it was right that his career should have been put into the public domain in the way that it was and that his – the – the career prospects of Sir Kim Darroch, who’s a estimable public servant, a great diplomat, should have become a political football.

AN: Right.

BJ: And I think that was a great shame.

AN: But that is not the issue that I’m asking you. Jeremy Hunt sat in that chair just very shortly and he said on this programme that you were a factor in his resignation. Kim Darroch is saying that. Do you accept that?

BJ: Well, as I say, I think that I did everything I could to show that I deplore the leaking of confidential –

AN: We know that, that’s not my question. (talking over)

BJ: This is a question you must direct to others –

AN: My question – it’s to you, because it’s your responsibility. Do you accept that your failure to support him tipped him into resignation?

BJ: I – no..

AN: The Foreign Secretary’s saying that.

BJ: I don’t accept that, no.

AN: Mr Darroch is saying that.

BJ: No, I don’t accept that, because I think – I think – I think that if – if people wish – want to do – again to turn this into a – a political football, that’s most unfortunate. It is very, very important –

 

AN: But you used it as a political football against Jeremy Hunt. You started to ask him in the ITV debate, well how long will you back him, will it be after Christmas, will it be January? It might be February. You used it as a way to avoid him asking you – answering your own question.

BJ: That was because the career prospects of a distinguished public servant had been dragged into the political debate in a way that I thought was wrong. It’s the job of politicians to stick up for civil servants and to – to support them.

AN: And you didn’t.

BJ: In their – listen, I think that it was – I – I rang Kim the following morning. I was very surprised – (talking over)

AN: The President called him wacky, pompous, a fool, stupid. You didn’t have a word of criticism of the President.

BJ: Ah well, I am on record as saying plenty of critical things of the President in the past.

AN: Not on this. (talking over) I mean people worry will you be as craven if you were Prime Minister?

BJ: I’ve been – you know, to – towards the United States of America, craven?

AN: Towards anybody who’s powerful in the world.

BJ: Don’t be ridiculous. If I may say so. When – when it comes to sticking up for the UK interests whether it’s over climate change, over disputes with Iran, over the Iran nuclear deal we have been very, very forthright with the United States of America, and I will continue to be forthright. And by way, Andrew, you may have forgotten that when the President of the United States saw fit to insult London – and actually he – rather like you – he deprecated the achievement of Londoners in – in reducing crime and said that London was –

AN: You said he was stupefyingly ignorant –

BJ: London was not a safe place.

AN: And unfit to hold office.

BJ: I – I flied back, as you would expect and –

AN: Using that kind of language?

BJ: I don’t think it is. I – my – my – my point about – about Kim is I thought it was most unfortunate –

AN: Is he still stupefyingly ignorant?

BJ: I thought it was most unfortunate –

AN: Is he still stupefyingly ignorant?

BJ: That Kim was dragged into the public debate.

AN: Is he still stupifyingly ignorant?

BJ: Of – of what?

AN: Mr Trump.

BJ: Well, I say – rather like you, he seems to think that London, you know, is – was – that we didn’t achieve as much as I thought we achieved –

AN: You’re not going to answer, are you?

BJ: In reducing crime.

AN: This has been the theme of your campaign. I want to come back to when our Ambassador was on the front line, in the crosshairs, you did not stand up for him. That’s what worries people.

BJ: Because I thought it was totally wrong to drag into the public domain the career prospects of a senior official and to turn that into a political football. I mean, I think –

AN: He just needed your support.

BJ: I – I thought what was necessary was to give a general statement of support for the right and the – and the duty and the ability of civil servants to convey their views to ministers confidentially, and to have that confidentiality respected.

AN: Alright.

BJ: And unfortunately what happened in the case of Sir Kim, who is a great public servant –

AN: We know all that.

BJ: Is that his views were leaked. And as I –

AN: We know all that. You mentioned Iran. And this again plays to your reputation for being careless, even cavalier with words. Maybe acceptable in a columnist, but perhaps not in high office. British citizen, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, currently incarcerated in Iran – she’s found this out to her cost. Can you explain to us why as Foreign Secretary did you say she was teaching journalism in Iran?

BJ: I’ve already made clear that that was a mistake.

AN: Why did you say it?

BJ: I – I already made clear that that was a mistake on a previous –

AN: We know it was a mistake, why did you say it?

BJ: And I’ve repeated many times that she was on holiday. And if I may say, the – the responsibility for incarcerating Nazanin, and others –

AN: Is Iran.

BJ: I – yeah.

AN: Well, nobody’s arguing about that, though. It’s the one that you go off on all the time to try and avoid answering the question. Why did she say –

BJ: I’m doing my best to answer your question. You seem rather choleric, Andrew, if I may say so.

AN: Why did you say she was teaching journalism? I mean, it’s a big difference from being on holiday and teaching journalism. Why did you say that?

BJ: Actually that’s not quite what I said.

AN: Did you read your brief properly? Was this sloppy?

BJ: If you look at what I said, I said the – the – the limit off what she was doing was teaching journalism. What I meant to say was, that that was – that was the most they could possibly accuse her of. As it happened, it was not a – even that was not true.

AM: You made a bad situation worse.

BJ: Well, actually there’s no evidence for that. The reality is – the reality is that she is being detained at the behest of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard –

AN: (talking over) We know. The issue is not… the issue is not who’s behind this. We know the Iranians are the bad guys. (talking together)

And we’re trying to work out – (talking over)

BJ: People are going to want to blame me for absolutely anything. You’re trying to blame me for –

AN: No, we’re trying to work out – I’m trying to work out if you made a bad situation even worse. Because many things came out on Iranian state TV; they welcomed your remarks. It was an unintended confession. The issue is did you master your brief? Were you sloppy? Did you not get on top of it? Because as Prime Minister doing that could cost lives.

BJ: Well, as I say, I – I reject entirely the assertion that anything I said made things worse. And indeed, I think that any attempt by others to point the finger of blame at the UK government –

AN: Nobody is doing that.

BJ: Well, you are if I may say so.

AN: I’m not doing that, I’m trying to work out if you made a – there’s a volatile situation in the Gulf at the moment.

BJ: Correct.

AN: It is a dangerous place. Our ships are under attack; the Royal Navy has had to be mobilised.

BJ: That’s absolutely right. All the more reason… all the more reason to be firm with Iran and not to inculpate ourselves and – and – and – as it were to assume blame for situations where the Iranians themselves –

AN: No one’s doing it. You go off again at a tangent to avoid answering the question (talking over). The issue is this – loose lips, loose –

BJ: I don’t understand the thrust of your interrogation.

AN: Loose lips cost ships.

BJ: Well, I think –

AN: And you have loose lips, Mr Johnson.

BJ: When it comes to what’s happening in the Gulf, you know – if you’re asking a serious question about what’s happening in the Persian Gulf, clearly we need to make sure UK shipping, British shipping, oil supplies can be – can be properly…

AN: I understand. I wasn’t asking you about that, I was asking –

BJ: You talked about something costing ships.

AN: I was talking about your ability to handle a crisis.

BJ: You said – you said this.

AN: So let’s see if we can get onto Brexit. Because this is the area the British people do need to trust you. You say you’ll leave on October 31st. Do or die, deal or no deal.

BJ: Yes.

AN: But the first EU summit isn’t until October 17th. Supposing at that summit there’s a breakthrough if things continue to go well. A deal is in the making. Both sides say so. But it can’t be done by Halloween. Are you seriously telling us you’d walk away?

BJ: I think we’ve got to come out on October 31st and I think it is very odd that those who are saying they would delay even further can’t set a – a – another date. How much further are we going to wait? We were meant to come out on March 29th. We then were going to come out April 8th. We then delayed it for a further six months. I think this is leading to a huge erosion of trust in politics.

AN: So if the EU says to you –

BJ: And people feel – people feel that unless the government, unless the political parties get their act together and come out of the EU on October 31st, which is what I will do now, I think people will not return either to the Conservative Party, or indeed to the Labour Party –

AN: Even – even if the EU (talking together) Let’s get .. even if the EU… no, hold on. Even if the EU says on 26th October we’re really close to a deal but it’s going to take another ten days to two weeks and you agree with that, you think, yeah we are, you wouldn’t walk away? That would be ludicrous.

 

BJ: Let’s – we will get a deal by October 31st.

AN: It would be ludicrous to walk away, wouldn’t it?

BJ: And I think it would be absolutely insane now to say that yet again we have a you know, a phoney deadline, it all can be kicked off until  – kick the can down the road ‘till the Greek calends –

AN: Nobody believes you would walk away in these circumstances. Be honest with the British people.

BJ: No. I think it’s very, very important that we get ready to leave on October the 31st, come what may. And we will. And this is a great country, a great economy and we can prepare for it. And I think actually the people in this country are fed up with being told that they can’t do X, Y or Z, they’ve got to prepare to stay in, that their politicians are fundamentally incapable of making the choices –

AN: Okay, so let’s see on what basis you might be able to take us out.

BJ: I think we were mandated. We were mandated, as a Parliament to come out of the EU. We voted overwhelmingly –

AN: We know all this, Mr Johnson. Stop –

BJ: You may know it, but people – people in the country don’t know it, and it’s high time – it’s high time –

AN: This bluster may get you through the hustings, it doesn’t work with me. I’m trying to pin you down on some facts.

BJ: You seem very, very choleric, Andrew, if I may say so.

AN: You’ve said the May deal is dead, defunct. But if the EU agreed to a crucial change in the Irish backstop, the kind of change you want, you would back it. That would be enough, wouldn’t it?

BJ: Well, they said that they’re not going to do that, haven’t they?

AN: No, but if they did it would be enough.

BJ: But everybody says that they’re not going to do that. Listen, what we need to do is very, very simple –

AN: But you want a change.

BJ: Shall I tell you what we’re going to do?

AN: No, I’d like you to – No, I’d like you to answer my question.

BJ: You don’t want me to tell you what we’re going to do?

AN: I want you to tell me what you would do if the EU agreed to a suitable change to the Irish backstop.

BJ: Well, what they need to do to the Irish backstop, as I’ve said repeatedly in this election process, is they need to take the 175 pages of the Irish backstop and they need basically to remit it, to remove it, to delete it and to put the solution to all the issues of frictionless trade across the Irish border and indeed elsewhere and resolve them in the context of the FTA, the Free Trade Agreement –

AN: Right.

BJ: That we will do after we have come out on October the 31st.

AN: But there’s a problem with that. There’s a problem with that because the –

BJ: That is the way forward.

AN: The European Union doesn’t see the backstop as part of the future negotiations; it sees the backstop as a fallback for these – should these negotiations fail. It wants the backstop –

BJ: No, no no. Andrew.

AN: Should they fail. It’s a precondition for you to negotiate them, and they won’t change their mind on that.

BJ: No. Well, that’s, if I may say so, more of the defeatism and negativity that we’ve had over the last three years –

AN: No, it’s just an accurate reading of the view in Brussels.

BJ: No, no, it isn’t, it’s entirely wrong. Because what’s happened over the last three years is that the EU has been presented with a UK partner that is basically determined to stay in the customs union and in the single market. And that’s effectively what the backstop constrains us to do. If you look at what the backstop does it makes – presents the Prime Minister of the UK, presents the government of the UK with an unacceptable choice.

AN: I understand that.

BJ: Well, I don’t think people do. Do you think our viewers really understand? It’s a crucial, crucial point

AN: What I’m trying to get across to you is the EU will not agree to make the backstop in the negotiations. It’s a precondition for the negotiations.

BJ: What has changed now, what has changed now is that there is a different approach to the negotiations, a new optimism about what we can do, a new spirit of determination to come properly out of the EU and to get a fantastic deal. And we do that by remitting the solutions to frictionless trade across the Irish border, the Northern Irish border and indeed all other borders to the work that needs to be done to do a free trade agreement. That is the way to do it. And that’s the way forward.

AN: And I’m telling you, and time will tell, that the EU will not agree to do it that way but we shall see. You’re quite confident that Parliament won’t rule out no deal, aren’t you?

BJ: Well, Andrew, Parliament has had several opportunities just recently –

AN: So you are confident?

BJ: To – to say that they don’t want a no deal Brexit –

AN: Right, so the answer’s yes?

BJ: And they have not taken that option. So I am increasingly optimistic that –

AN: That they won’t, okay.

BJ: That my colleagues in parliament, all of us, will be able to work together to get something done, to get it across the line.

AN: Right, so the answer’s yes?

BJ: Yeah.

AN: So if you are so confident, why don’t you rule out suspending Parliament to proceed with no deal?

BJ: The old prorogue question. The prorogue question.

AN: Yeah, why don’t you rule that out?

BJ: Well, because, look I don’t want to do it. I don’t think it’s necessary.

AN: I know that, but why don’t you rule it out?

BJ: Because I don’t think it is sensible at this – I don’t want a no deal Brexit, either.

AN: No, I understand that too. But if you’re in that position –

BJ: Okay, well, then you understand why I’m not ruling it out.

AN; Well, why? Because you’ve argued, the Brexit side has said that Brexit will revive our parliamentary democracy. But you might suspend parliamentary democracy to force through Brexit. It’s a bizarre position.

BJ: I don’t – I don’t want to do that and let me be clear –

AN: But you won’t – you will not tonight rule it out. You may prorogue our Parliament to get your way.

BJ: Well, let me clear what I want to happen, okay? I want the elected representatives of the people to take their responsibilities and work together to get this thing over the line. And I think actually there is an outbreak of common sense starting to take place in our party and across Parliament and people are coming together to try to get this thing done. I don’t think it will be necessary to do anything like proroguing Parliament.

AN: But we can’t proceed on a wing and Johnson prayer. We need to have some idea what we’re trying to do.

BJ: We’re going to proceed with the dignity and maturity and common sense of the Parliament of this country –

AN: But you –

BJ: And they’re going to get it right.

AN: Only recently you claimed that we could leave on no deal and we just carry on trading with the EU as now, pending a new trade agreement to be done. You now know that’s not true, don’t you?

BJ: Well, it depends what sort of terms you strike with the EU. It might be possible and I accept that this has to be done by mutual agreement but it might be possible, for instance, as we come out to agree under GATT 24 paragraph 5B that both sides agree to a standstill, a protraction of their existing zero tariff, zero quota arrangements until such time as we do a free trade deal. And that will be one way forward. And that would be very attractive and of course it will be up to our friends and partners to decide whether they wanted to go along with that.

AN: So how would you handle – you talk about Article 5B in GATT 24 –

BJ: Paragraph 5B. Article 24. Get the detail right. Get the detail right, Andrew. It’s Article 24 paragraph 5B.

AN: And how would you handle paragraph 5C?

BJ: I would confide entirely in paragraph 5B, because that is –

AN: How would you get round what’s in 5C?

BJ: I would confide entirely in paragraph 5B which is enough for our purposes.

AN: Do you know what’s in 5C?

BJ: No.

AN: I thought you were a man of detail.

BJ: Well, you didn’t even know whether it was an article or a paragraph, but –

AN: But that’s not the details you told those Tory hustings…

BJ: There’s enough in paragraph 5B to get us the agreement that we want.

AN: No. 5C says you don’t just need the EU’s approval; you need to agree with the EU the shape of a future trade agreement –

BJ: Yes.

AN: And a timetable to getting towards it. Now can I just point out –

BJ: But why should that – can I ask you –

AN: Okay, I’ll tell you why.

BJ: Why, why this defeatism? Why this negativity?

AN: I’ll tell you why – you ask and I’ll tell you and you can respond.

BJ: Why can’t we rely on the common sense and good will of both parties to get this done?

AN: Because you would want the EU to agree to the status quo, for perhaps up to 10 years, but you would have walked away from the May Agreement, you would have withdrawn the 39 billion –

BJ: Why do you say ten years?

AN: You would have – because that’s what Article 5B allows. You may have to read it again.

BJ: You don’t have to go to ten.

AN: But it’s up to ten years. You would have refused the Irish backstop; you would have ended free movement. You would have left the court of the European Court. Why on earth would the EU agree to the status quo in these conditions? It’s fantasy.

BJ: Because it’s manifestly – no, because it’s manifestly in the interests of both sides, Andrew. And after all the EU has a very substantial net balance of trade with us, they – they have a considerable surplus in goods alone of, I think, about 65 billion pounds and they will want to continue to see those goods flowing –

AN: I’m not surprised you’re smiling because you know it’s mission impossible.

BJ: Well, I don’t  – can I just say, I just do think that that sort of BBC-generated gloom and negativity has helped to condition the mindset of – well, seriously Andrew, I think it’s – people in this country –

AN: Yeah, okay. Let’s get back to some of the facts.

BJ: People in this country feel they’ve been told for three years that they are incapable of leaving the EU and their politicians simply can’t do it. My message to the people of this country is that we can do it, we were mandated to do it and then there are all sorts of ways in which we need to unite the country –

AN: I understand.

BJ: Bringing down crime, as I did in London, whatever you may say about it –

AN: No, no, we’ve already started on that – please –

BJ: Putting in fantastic transport infrastructure –

AN: You can’t filibuster by repeating, Mr Johnson.

BJ: Investing in Broadband. There are wonderful things we can do.

AN: You are here to be scrutinised and let’s come on to your economic policies. Chancellor Hammond has created a fiscal headroom of around 25 billion in the event of no deal. You do understand that that 25 billion is not in a trunk in the Treasury, don’t you?

BJ: Listen. There is an opportunity now – if you’re talking about our spending plans –

AN: But you understand it’s not in the Treasury. You would have to borrow that.

BJ: We – there is an opportunity now – the deficit has been greatly reduced as you know to about –

AN: Would you stick to the existing fiscal rules?

BJ: And we would continue to bear down on our national debt and we will be setting out in a Budget and a spending review exactly what we will be doing on the fiscal rules and everything else –

AN: Would you continue with the current government’s fiscal rules which constrain borrowing and spending?

BJ: What I can tell you is that we will continue to reduce this country’s debt and we will be setting out our plans –

AN: As what?

BJ: We will be setting out our plans –

AN: What is the current debt?

BJ: The overall government borrowing? It’s about 80% of GDP or thereabouts.

AN: It’s at 83 per cent, but it’s 1.8 trillion.

BJ: Sure, okay.

AN: Now one of the existing rules is that you keep –

BJ: We would continue to reduce our national debt, but there is also –

AN: Which you would accept would limit how much you borrow?

BJ: There is also the headroom now to take some of that cash and invest it in things that I think really matter to people, such as levelling up spending on education around this country, such as investing in a police – you know I’ve talked earlier about policing.

AN: No, but you want to spend quite a lot. It’ll be 20, 30 billion, depending on how you do it.

BJ: Well, actually it’s nothing like that sum, but we don’t even reach the headroom. We don’t even reach the headroom.

AN: But in doing this would you stick to the second fiscal rule?

BJ: We will be setting out our spending plans and our budgetary plans –

AN: Would you stick to the second – you know what the second fiscal rule is?

BJ: – in the course of the Budget and the spending review. We will be setting out all our plans on all – any number of fiscal rules in the course of the Budget and the spending review.

AN; Well, let me tell you. It is the – the second rule is that you can’t borrow more than 2% of GDP.

BJ: We will be setting out our plans in the course of the – and I repeat, we will continue to bear down on our share – on the debt that you correctly identified at about only 2% of GDP.

AN: Can you tell the viewers, ‘cause this does seem to be a more laxical Conservative fiscal policy –

BJ: Laxical? What’s laxical?

AN: Can you tell the viewers –

BJ: Can you tell the viewers what laxical means?

AN: Or even lackadaisical maybe more accurate –

BJ: All right. Laxical is not a word.

AN: But can you tell the viewers what limits would you place on borrowing?

BJ: Look, I will set out or we will set out, if I’m lucky enough to be successful in this campaign, we will be setting out our spending plans, our fiscal plans, our tax raising plans –

AN: I thought you had done that in this campaign?

BJ: Well, I’ve given some indication –

AN: What would be the constraints on borrowing?

BJ: All we’ve done, all we’ve done is set out some very modest pledges actually which total actually about 15 billion. We’ve got – of course it’s right to say that we’ve got –

AN: They’re not that modest. Some of them cost –

BJ: Considerably more modest. (talking over)

AN: 11 billion, 13 billion, ten billion. You’re all over the place.

BJ: No, well I don’t know whose maths – I don’t know whose maths that is but our –

AN: Yours.

BJ: No, on the contrary. Our calculations are that it tops out at about 15 billion when you take the policing, the provisions on education and all the rest of it – and – and these are very, very sensible things to do. Don’t forget that in the Chancellor’s revenues have been exceeding his expenditure. There is cash around. I think most people in this country, Andrew, want to see some money go on education and go on policing. And that is what we’re going to do.

AN: And I’m still trying to understand under what the rules would be.

BJ: And it’s also a disgrace, it’s also a disgrace that in this country only 7 per cent of the people have access to full fibre broadband whereas in Spain about 85 or 90 per cent have access to it.

 

AN: But let me just, come on – you say it’s all costed but you proposed a huge tax cut for the relatively affluent. That was about 9 billion. That was then attacked, attacked because it went to people on over 50,000 so you proposed cuts in National Insurance for low earners. That’s another 13 billion.

BJ: Yeah, we proposed to lift – we proposed to lift the threshold.

AN; And it comes back to this. You can’t be trusted. You say, oh tax cuts for the affluent, oh no we’d better give tax cuts to the low earners as well.

BJ: Nonsense. Nonsense. Look at my record. Come on.

AN: You just say whatever it takes to get you out of a hole.

BJ: Nonsense. Look at what we did in London where we massively expanded the Living Wage. We put cash into the pockets of some of the poorest families –

AN: I’m talking about your tax cut proposals.

BJ: If people want to judge what I’m going to do –

AN: You cannot do both.

BJ: Look at what we did in London. We massively –

AN: So who comes first?

BJ: We massively expanded the Living Wage –

AN: Who comes first, Mr Johnson?

BJ: Well, look at what I did.

AN: Who comes first? The people who are earning over 50,000 or those under 12 and a half thousand who pay National Insurance?

BJ: We will have a package that looks after every –

AN: Who comes first?

BJ: The poorest come first. The poorest come first.

AN: But that’s not what happened in your tax cuts. The richest came first.

BJ: Look at what happened in London after eight years as Mayor of London –

AN: You’re not in charge of income tax or National Insurance in London.

BJ: Let me tell you. After eight years as Mayor of London it was the poorest quartile of society who had seen a biggest growth in life expectancy and the biggest growth in their overall prosperity and that we managed to level up across the entire city, Andrew. And that is what we’re going to do throughout this country. With infrastructure, with education and with full fibre broadband and – and of course fighting crime.

AN: I’ve got one final question for you.

BJ: That is the way forward.

AN: Someone, and I’m coming back to finish with the issue of character –

BJ: I’ll tell you something –

AN: No, you won’t tell me something, ‘causes I’ve got one more question and I’m going to ask it.

BJ: Go on then.

AN: Someone who’s worked for you, who knows you well, says you’re all flaws and no character. The British people will face huge and unprecedented risk with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, won’t they?

BJ: No. I think that the British people face one serious risk and that is that we failed to get Brexit done, we failed to unite our country and we thereby are so remiss as to allow the government of this country to pass into the hands of an avowed Marxist or semi-Marxist who would put up taxes – and you’ve been talking a lot about taxes just now, Andrew – who would put up taxes on inheritance, on pensions, on incomes, on Corporation Tax and he would be an economic disaster. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party would be –

AN: All right. Boris Johnson, thank you very much.

BJ: And don’t forget that the last time I had to fight them I defeated them when we were 17 points behind in London.


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