Boris Johnson has just given a wide-ranging interview to BBC Breakfast in which he signalled support for a new Trump nuclear agreement with Iran and promised to bring forward plans for social care by the end year. Here are the six things we learnt from the interview:
1. Boris backs Trump’s Iran strategy
The Prime Minister told viewers that the US had been right not to notify the UK before the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, saying ‘This was not our operation. There was no reason for us to be involved.’
Addressing the nuclear deal negotiated by Obama, the PM said: ‘If we’re going to get rid of it, let’s replace it – and let’s replace it with the Trump deal. That’s what we need to see and I think that would be a great way forward.’
2. UK confident of a comprehensive trade deal
Contrary to what the new president of the Commission has said on the subject, Boris explained that he is ‘very, very, very confident’ about getting a comprehensive trade deal with the EU before the December deadline. However, the Prime Minister added that a deal was not certain, saying: ‘You always have to budget for a complete failure of common sense’. When interviewer Dan Walker broached the subject, Boris Johnson joked that Brexit was his ‘least favourite subject because we need to move on’.
3. Social care reforms to be announced this year
Reform to social care has been seen as a growing issue over the last few years. Theresa May promised to tackle the problem in the run-up to the 2017 general election, only for the so-called ‘dementia tax’ to be scrapped following her disastrous election result.
Boris said that his government would publish their plans for reform this year and suggested that the requisite legislation would be passed during this parliament. However, he signalled a departure from the May era plans saying no one should have to sell their home in order to fund old-age care.
4. No. 10 keen to avoid spat with the Harry & Meghan
Asked about Harry and Meghan’s decision to step back from royal duties, the Prime Minister said the situation would not be helped by politicians wading into the debate. The PM stuck resolutely to convention (and his previous comments) by refusing to pass judgement on the royal wrangle.
5. Government bail out of Flybe unlikely
Boris also addressed the ongoing crisis talks with the airline Flybe, which he said was important for UK interconnectivity. However, Johnson said that it was not for government to save failing businesses.
6. Boris reticent on Big Ben’s Brexit bongs
Walker asked about the thorny issue of whether Big Ben would bong for Brexit. The Prime Minister sounded a note of caution saying No. 10 was ‘working up a plan’ before chiming in and adding that the plan could cost upwards of £500,000. Not quite a ringing endorsement…