Boris Johnson broke cover yesterday after accusations of ducking scrutiny in his bid to become Britain’s next prime minister, defending his Brexit strategy but saying it would be “unfair” to discuss his private life.
The frontrunner to replace Prime Minister Theresa May gave a series of broadcast interviews and arranged several campaign events, after his rival Jeremy Hunt had urged him not to be a “coward” by shunning media appearances.
It came as the ruling Conservatives set the date to announce the winner of the race to become party leader and therefore premier as July 23. Johnson and Hunt were selected from a wide field of candidates by Conservative MPs. Both men are taking part in 16 party meetings around Britain, and although one TV debate was cancelled Tuesday after Johnson refused to take part, another is planned for July 9.
Hunt, who took over as foreign minister when Johnson quit last year, is the underdog and as such has taken every opportunity to give interviews and pose for photos. On Brexit, Hunt too has said he is willing to accept a “no deal” departure, but says he is prepared to delay Brexit to get an agreement.
Just 160,000 party members will decide between current foreign minister Hunt and his predecessor Johnson in the ballot, which was triggered by May’s resignation earlier this month as her bid to steer Britain out of the European Union collapsed.
Johnson is known for his big personality but has been keeping a low profile during the campaign, in what appears to be a bid by his team to stop him from making any major gaffes.
But since a story broke last week about a noisy row with his girlfriend that prompted a police visit, but no further action, he has come under increasing pressure to break his silence. He told the BBC late Monday that he had never spoken about his loved ones in public because “if you do, you drag them into things that… in a way that is not fair on them”.