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'It's not just up to us': Boris Johnson claims 'abundant technical fixes' could help fix Irish border issue

Boris Johnson has been defending his Brexit plans this evening… but not discussing his private life.

Updated Jun 24th 2019, 10:31 PM

CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP HOPEFUL Boris Johnson has said it’s “not just up to the UK” when it comes to finding a solution to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland after Brexit.

He said that when it comes to resolving the border issue “it’s up to the other side as well” and that he would work with the EU to reach a solution that suited all parties.

Speaking to the BBC in an interview published this evening, one of the two contenders to be Britain’s next prime minister said that there were “abundant technical fixes” that could be made that would prevent checks at the Irish border if the UK was to crash out of the EU without a deal on 31 October.

Johnson also claimed that he does “not believe for a moment” that the UK will leave without a deal, but said he would be willing to do if prime minister.

When interviewer Laura Kuenssberg put it to Johnson these so-called technical fixes don’t yet exist, Johnson said: “Well, they do actually, in very large measure they do. You have trusted trader schemes, all sorts of schemes that you could put in to place.”

He later admitted that there’s no “single magic bullet” to resolve the border issue but claimed that there was now “positive energy about getting it done”. 

Johnson said that since the original Brexit date of 29 March has come and gone with the UK still in the EU, there was now a “different understanding of what is needed” from both sides of the English channel. 

The former London Mayor also said that both the Conservatives and Labour would face “mortal retribution” at polling time, if Brexit was not delivered. 

‘Obviously staged’

boris The photograph given to UK media yesterday.

A number of MPs, meanwhile, have described a photo of Johnson and his girlfriend as being “obviously staged” after it appeared in a newspaper this morning.

The image which shows Johnson with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds in Sussex appeared on the front the Daily Mail today. 

Johnson has been under increasing pressure to answer questions about police being called to the home he shares with his partner after neighbours reportedly heard a domestic row. 

Labour MP Jo Stevens told the Mirror that the photo was “obviously staged” and made Johnson look “even more shifty”.

Speaking to the BBC this evening, Johnson said he wouldn’t be discussing the alleged row because it was “”simply unfair” to involve “loved ones” in such a public debate as he seeks to become prime minister. 

He said: “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 really is, in a way that is not fair on them.

Sky debate

Earlier today, Sky News announced it had postponed a planned Conservative leadership debate scheduled for tomorrow because Johnson declined to take part. 

Johnson’s leadership rival Jeremy Hunt had agreed to take part in tomorrow’s debate but the broadcaster says it will reschedule it for next week and invite both contenders again.

“Sky News has been planning to hold a debate between the remaining candidates in the leadership election. Jeremy Hunt has agreed to take part but Boris Johnson has so far declined the invitation,” the station said in a statement.

We stand ready to host a debate tomorrow if both candidates make themselves available. Without both candidates, tomorrow’s debate will not take place but we will reissue our invitation for Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson to debate on Sky News next Monday instead. 

The postponement of the debate comes as Hunt has increased his attacks on Johnson for failing to make himself available to the media during the leadership contest.

In an article he wrote for The Times newspaper, Hunt labelled Johnson “a coward” for his refusal to take part in TV debates. 

Hunt, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, said he was “not interested” in debating Johnson’s private life. 

On Saturday, Johnson ignored questions put to him about the incident but other MPs are among those who have urged him to address the matter. 

Writing today, Hunt urged Johnson to be more open to questions before Conservative members start postal voting during the second week of July

“I am not interested in debating Boris’s private life. But I do want to quiz him on how he can “guarantee” we will leave the EU on 31 October if parliament votes to stop a no-deal Brexit, as it did in March,” Hunt wrote in The Times. 

“Boris has done just one interview on Today in the past year. I have done 16. He has not appeared on The Andrew Marr Show this year and his one broadcast interview of this campaign, with World at One, was arranged with just ten minutes’ notice so Mark Mardell had no time to prepare questions. And now he is refusing point blank to do TV debates.”

Pathetically, within hours of getting through to the final two he “challenged” me to the ITV debate. I willingly accepted even though it was scheduled for three weeks later, after most members have received their postal votes and after many of them will have voted.

Hunt writes that any new prime minister needs the legitimacy of having their arguments “subjected to scrutiny”.

“Only then can you walk through the front door of No 10 with your head held high instead of slinking through the back door, which is what Boris appears to want,” Hunt says.

“The first debate that Boris has been invited to will be on Sky News tomorrow evening. I’ll be there. So don’t be a coward Boris, man up and show the nation you can cope with the intense scrutiny the most difficult job in the country will involve.”

Speaking on Sky News this morning, Hunt had encouraged Sky News to “empty chair” Johnson during tomorrow’s debate but the broadcaster instead decided to postpone it.

Hunt also defended his stance of not demanding answers from Johnson over the police call to his home. 

“It would be the easy hit to criticise that, it would be the wrong hit,” Hunt said. “Because we need to have a national debate about how we solve the Brexit crisis, how we deliver that democratic mandate.”

“The people of this country want a prime minister who’s prepared to give a straight answer to a straight questions as to how he will deal with the Brexit crisis we’re in.” 

With reporting from Garreth MacNamee, Seán Murray

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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