Boris Johnson defends refusal to say why police were called to flat

Tory frontrunner repeats pledge to leave EU on October 31st with or without deal

Boris Johnson has defended his refusal to explain why police called to an apartment he shares with girlfriend Carrie Symonds last Friday morning, saying it is not fair to put his loved ones into the political spotlight.

In an interview with the BBC on Monday night, he admitted he would need an agreement with the EU to avoid a hard Border and maintain tariff-free trade after Brexit.

The Conservative leadership frontrunner said he would not answer questions about his relationship with Ms Symonds or other aspects of his private life.

“I’ve made it a rule over many, many years, I do not talk about stuff involving my family, my loved ones. And there’s a very good reason for that. That is that, if you do, you drag them into things that are not fair on them,” he said.


Newspapers on Monday published a photograph of Mr Johnson and Ms Symonds in a garden in Sussex, apparently enjoying a romantic moment. But he declined to say who took the picture or if it was with his approval.

“I repeat my key point which is that I just do not go into this stuff, and there’s a good reason for it,” he said.

“But I think what people want to know is what is going on with this guy, does he, when it comes to trust, when it comes to character all those things, does he deliver what he says he’s going to deliver? And that is the key thing.”

Technical fixes

Mr Johnson repeated his pledge to leave the EU on October 31st with or without a deal but he said he was confident that he could persuade the EU to give Britain a better deal.

“The important thing is that there should be an agreement that the solution of … the Northern Irish Border questions, and all the facilitation that we want to produce, to get that done. All those issues need to be tackled on the other side of October 31st during what’s called the implementation period,” he said.

“It’s not just up to us, it’s up to the other side as well. And there is an element, of course, a very important element of mutuality and co-operation in this. And we will be working with our friends and partners to make sure that we have an outcome that is manifestly in the interests of people, of businesses, communities on both sides of the channel.”

Mr Johnson cited a report published on Monday by the privately funded Alternative Arrangements Commission, which claimed that alternatives to the backstop could be ready within two or three years.

The proposals include a common food safety and animal health area covering Britain and Ireland and special economic zones for the Derry-Donegal and Newry-Dundalk corridors.

“There are abundant, abundant technical fixes that can be introduced to make sure that you don’t have to have checks at the Border. That’s the crucial thing. And everybody accepts that there are ways you can check for the rules of origin, there are ways you can check for compliance with EU goods and standards, of our goods standards,” Mr Johnson said.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times