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  1. ITV Report

I'll continue to speak my mind but I won't talk about my private life, says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has insisted he will continue to speak his mind even if it upsets some people - but he will not discuss his private life.

In his first interview since the late-night quarrel at his home with his partner, to which police were called by a worried neighbour, he said it was was “simply unfair” to “drag” his loved ones into the political arena.

The Tory leadership frontrunner said that while he was prepared to speak his mind, even if some of the language was uncomfortable to some or caused offence, he would not be drawn into detail about what was involved in a spat in the early hours of Friday.

Police were called by neighbours after his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, was heard screaming and shouting “get off me”.

The former foreign secretary again dodged questions on what happened, in an interview with the BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg.

Boris Johnson's neighbour called police to the flat he shares with his partner, after hearing the row. Credit: PA

When asked what happened on Friday night by Kuenssberg, Mr Johnson said he did not want to “drag” his family and loved ones into the political arena.

He said: “I…would love to tell you about all sorts of things Laura, but I’ve made it a rule over many, many years and I think you’ve interviewed me loads of times, 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, is, in a way that is not fair on them.”

Mr Johnson was asked whether privacy meant more to him than public trust and responded: “Yes I get that, I totally get that.

“But my key point though is that the minute you start talking about your family or your loved ones, you involve them in a debate that is it is simply unfair on them.”

The issue of a photograph of the couple that emerged at the weekend was raised, with Kuenssberg suggesting the former mayor of London could be “trying to have this both ways”.

Mr Johnson dodged the question, saying “I just do not go into this stuff” and referring back to “innumerable statements I gave when I was mayor”.

He said: “Actually 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.”

Kuenssberg agreed trust was key and suggested the Tory membership would be looking at his record when deciding whether to vote for him and warned “there are plenty of people even in the Conservative Party who worry that you do not stick to what you promise”.

But Mr Johnson dismissed this, saying: “Well I think they’re talking absolute nonsense.

“When I was mayor, when I became mayor of London, when we said we would do something, we, I may say delivered not just X but X plus 10.”

Boris Johnson's rival for the Tory crown is Jeremy Hunt. Credit: PA

The former foreign secretary and mayor of London has also pledged to be a politician "who sticks by what (he) believes in".

Apologising for upset caused by gaffes during his tenure, the Tory leadership candidate said he did not enjoy offending people but also claimed the public deserve a prime minister who speaks their mind.

The politician has previously come under fire for his handling of the continuing incarceration of British-Iranian citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and when he labelled Burka-wearing Muslim women "letterboxes".

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband has been on hunger strike outside London's Iranian embassy. Credit: PA

He said: "What I pledge to, you know, and what I think the people of this country want to hear is, I will be a politician who sticks by what I believe in.

"Yes occasionally I may say things as I’ve said before, that cause offence, and I’m sorry for the offence and I’m sorry for the offence I caused, but I will continue to speak my mind because I think people deserve to hear what’s going on in my head."

Speaking on the case of the dual British Iran citizen detained by Tehran, and his handling of the case as foreign secretary, Mr Johnson said: “I think of course people will want to point the finger of blame at me if they possibly can, but actually all that does is serve to exculpate, lift the blame of the people who are really responsible, who are the Iranian Revolutionary Guard."

Boris Johnson in front of the Vote Leave battle bus. Credit: PA

The former Vote Leave leader, who hopes to become prime minister, also called for a "commonsensical" no-deal exit to allow the "incubus" of Brexit to be "pitchforked off the back of British politics"

He said: "I think the £39 billion is at the upper end of the EU’s expectations but there is it, it’s a considerable sum.

"I think there should be creative ambiguity about when and how that gets paid over.”

Calling on the UK to "abandon the defeatism and negativity" Mr Johnson claimed the route out of the impasse was "to prepare confidently and seriously for a WTO or no-deal outcome".

He added: "It is not where I believe for a moment we will end up.

"But in order to get the result that we want, in order to get the deal we need, the commonsensical protraction of the existing arrangements until such time as we have completed the free trade deal between us and the EU that will be so beneficial to both times.

"The commonsensical thing to do is to prepare for a WTO exit."

However, on Monday, Tory crown rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt attacked Mr Johnson's leadership bid and his lack of public appearances.

Mr Hunt said his predecessor had put together a “fragile” coalition of supporters and opponents of a no-deal Brexit which would quickly disintegrate in office.

He also called on Mr Johnson not to be a “coward” by avoiding the Sky News live TV debate which had been scheduled for Tuesday.

"He should answer questions on how he would get us out of the Brexit crisis," Mr Hunt told ITV News.

Mr Hunt's warning came as Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood said around a dozen Conservative MPs could be prepared to support a vote of no-confidence in the Government to prevent a no-deal break with the EU.

  • A televised debate between the two leadership hopefuls will take part on ITV on July 9