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Boris Johnson answers all sorts in radio phone-in but won't say how many children he has

Johnson spoke for almost an hour during the BBC Radio 5 Live show.

Boris Johnson on BBC Radio 5 this morning.
Boris Johnson on BBC Radio 5 this morning.
Image: BBC5Live

UK PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson has attacked Jeremy Corbyn for “siding with the IRA” during an hour-long live radio phone-in this morning. 

Johnson was appearing on a BBC Radio 5 Live and answered a range of questions from callers about a range of topics including VAT, the NHS, Nigel Farage, Russia, mental health spending, childcare, broadband, Northern Ireland and his own children’s education. 

During the programme, Emma from Belfast asked about Johnson’s “commitment to maintaining the union with Northern Ireland” and said that many unionists regard his deal with the EU as “a betrayal”.

Johnson went on to repeatedly defend the deal, saying that while Northern Ireland will remain in alignment with the EU Custom Union it will still remain part of the UK’s customs territory.  

Johnson said NI business-owners will not have to pay tariffs to trade with Britain and that they will also benefit from any future trade deals negotiated by future UK governments.

This point is one of the key issues of debate on the deal and Johnson’s understanding of the arrangements has been questioned in recent weeks.

Tweet by @BBC Radio 5 Live Source: BBC Radio 5 Live/Twitter

“There will be no checks on goods going from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK to GB, absolutely not we won’t be doing that at all,” Johnson said

And I take it a little bit awry, frankly, to be lectured about my commitment to Northern Ireland, by Jeremy Corbyn, who, for decades has actively sided with the IRA, who want to break up the United Kingdom and create a United Ireland. 

Corbyn’s past meetings with Sinn Féin leaders has repeatedly been raised by journalists and political opponents and during the 2017 general election he condemned IRA bombings.

Speaking more with Emma from Belfast, Johnson said that Stormont could in the future decide to leave the proposed arrangement, referred to as the consent vote

“Mr Prime Minister, we haven’t had a Stormont for 1,033 days,” Emma responded. 

Tweet by @BBC Radio 5 Live Source: BBC Radio 5 Live/Twitter

On Corbyn and Scotland, Johnson claimed that if Labour entered government with the support of the SNP Corbyn “wouldn’t have the power to resist” another referendum on Scottish independence. 

“Their plan is to take Scotland back into the EU, independent of the UK, and that would mean taking the Euro and entering Schengen,” Johnson said of the SNP’s plan.

Asked further about the free movement of EU workers after Brexit, Johnson said it’s unfair that they get preferential treatment of non-EU workers. 

“I think they’ve been wonderful for our country, speaking as someone who used to run London it was absolutely incredible to see the contributions made be for people from all over the world.

The arrangements that we have now are for the EU in particular not the other parts of the world, so it is discriminatory against other parts of the world and we don’t think that’s fair. 

A question of peerage

Tweet by @BBC Radio 5 Live Source: BBC Radio 5 Live/Twitter

The Brexit Party’s decision not to challenge Conservative MPs in their constituencies has been the major talking point during this week of election campaigning and it has prompted questions about whether a deal has been done between the two parties. 

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has claimed that he was offered a peerage by the Conservatives as a way of convincing his party not to challenge them. 

Asked about this claim during today’s interview, Johnson emphatically denied this was the case.

“No, no, nein, nein, what is this nonsense?,” Johnson said. “I know it’s on the front page of The Daily Telegraph, isn’t it? Normally unimpeachable.”

Asked whether there have been any conversations between the two parties, Johnson said it would be impossible for him to know this. 

“Well, look I mean, that would be a big thing to for me to investigate. I’m sure that there are conversations taking place between politicians of all parties. But certainly nobody has been offered a peerage I can tell you that,” he said. 

Russian interference

Johnson’s government has been criticised for delaying the publication of a report into the threat posed by Russia to Britain’s democracy until after the election. 

In a Twitter question, Georgie asked Johnson why he won’t publish the documents.

Tweet by @BBC Radio 5 Live Source: BBC Radio 5 Live/Twitter

The Prime Minister said it wouldn’t be “normal procedure” to publish the report and that he won’t change this “just because there’s an election”.

The UK’s security services are understood to have cleared the documents but Johnson said this is still not a reason to publish them. 

“They’re not normally published at that pace. And there’s no reason to change the procedures,” he said. 

Asked how many Russian oligarchs have donated to his Conservative Party, Johnson said he wouldn’t put a number on it but that all donations “are there in the public domain”.

“I think that you’ve got to be very careful before you simply cast aspersions on everybody who comes from a certain country just because of their nationality,” he said. 

Pushed again for a number amid reports that nine oligarchs had donated, Johnson said he simply didn’t know.  

“They’ve all been properly vetted, they all, it’s open, all these donations are all open to challenge. If people think that they’re not fit and proper persons then they’re not, they’re not, allowed to donate. That’s the rule,” he said. 

Children

During the interview, Johnson was also asked about childcare and education

“It’s spending on education across the country that will give everybody a chance to express their talents,” Johnson said before being challenged on Conservative cuts to education spending

Johnson was then asked by host Rachel Burden about his own children’s education, and then about his children in general

“None of your children have gone to State school is that right,” she said. 

“I don’t comment on my children if that’s alright,” Johnson responded before being pushed on the topic.

Lots of people have been in touch to say ‘ask the Prime Minister how many children he has?’ That is a question that frequently comes up, just so you’re aware. I think people find it odd that someone who’s a public figure can’t answer that question.

In response, Johnson said: “Sure, sure. Your assertion that none of my children have gone to State schools is wrong, is wrong. That’s all I will say. ”

Asked about how he plans for Christmas, Johnson joked that he hasn’t had time to think about that.

“I have, alas, not had time to plan for Christmas because I’m so focused on getting Brexit done and unleashing the potential of this country. I’m afraid I literally haven’t had the chance to think about it,” Johnson said.  

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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