Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand at the Tory Party Conference about his personal conduct, Brexit negotiations and the Hulk.
Here is the full interview:
Paul Brand: In the past week alone you’ve been accused of grabbing a journalist’s thigh, sleeping with a business woman you were dealing with as Mayor or London, and accused of shouting down the female MPs.
Should women trust you?
Prime minister: Absolutely and look at what we’re doing, look at what we said on steps of Downing Street, we have a very clear agenda, 20,000 more police officers, that’s what we are delivering, look at we are doing on the NHS...
PB: What does this have to do with women specifically, prime minister, can women trust you?
Given your personal track record, can they trust you?
PM: Sorry, you’re asking about whether anybody can trust me so I’m talking about what I’m doing for the electorate as a whole and I think what a lot of female voters care about is whether our streets are safe, that’s why I’ve put 20,000 police officers out on the streets and people care deeply about ourx NHS.
PB: Specifically on this issue of your track record with women, do you think you set a good example to the country?
PM: If you look at my type of government, at administrations I have run, look at what we had at City Hall I had women at the very top of that administration, more of less a total feminocracy in City Hall and look at what I did as Mayor of London.
The number one policy that we had was to...the solution to most of the problems of the world was to promote 12 years of quality education for every girl.
I’m not going to deny that lots of stuff is being thrown at me at the moment but this is a very turbulent time in British politics and people will want to try and knock government off-course because at the moment we are tasked with a difficult mission, but a vital mission, that is to get Brexit done by October 31.
PB: Are you saying then that these questions about your personal life are somehow politically motivated?
PM: No, there are lots of different points that you sort of kicked off with, and some of them are completely untrue and, and, actually all of them completely untrue.
I certainly didn't shout anybody down, they are all completely untrue.
I don’t wish to impune the motives of people who make these comments nor do I wish to minimise the importance of the issues that are raises, but they are not correct and what I have to do is focus on job in hand.
We have got to get Brexit done by October 31 but we have also got to deliver a fantastic domestic agenda.
PB: You say you didn’t grab the journalist Charlotte Edwardes' leg at a dinner 20 years ago, what do you remember?
PM: All I know is that it is not true.
PB: Do you remember having lunch and sitting next to her?
PM: I, to be honest, I can tell you that it is not true.
PB: Do you remember having that lunch?
PM: I don’t to be honest, I have no memory whatever.
PB: So if you don’t remember it how are you so sure it’s not true?
PM: Well I can tell you it is absolutely not true.
PB: But you don’t remember it prime minister so why should we take your word over somebody who does?
PM: Because it is not true, for all sorts of reasons, and I don’t wish as I say to minimise importance of subject, I don’t wish to you know cast aspersions on the motives of anybody who makes this type of allegation but it is not true and what I want to do is focus on our domestic agenda.
And if I may say so I think that what we're doing - I think there are more announcements at this conference than I have seen anywhere conservative conference.
PB: Let’s talk about politics... PM can you tell me what is the price of petrol?
PM: I’m not here to answer general knowledge or pub quiz questions.
PB: The reason I ask you, what kind of hike in the cost of petrol would be acceptable to you if prices rise in the event of a no-deal Brexit?
PM: Well we don’t want a no deal Brexit and we are working very hard to prevent a no deal Brexit.
What we will try to do is minimise any impact whatever from a no-deal Brexit and that’s why we are working so hard to get a deal.
It’s not going to be easy, Paul, I think there will be some difficult conversations to be had in the course of the next few days but I’m hopeful that we will get there and that’s what we want.
PB: The point I am getting at here is you don’t have to fill your car with petrol, you don’t have to pay the price.
You’re insulated from the risks - what is the personal risk for you?
PM: We have to minimise the risks of a no deal Brexit and a great deal of work has been done to mitigate those risks.
But I think actually people really want to see the UK come out whether they are Leavers or Remainers they want us to get a deal if we possibly can, but also come out on October 31 and that’s what we are going to do.
When you talk about impact on prices, yes of course we want to avoid that and of course we want to minimise dislocation of supply changes and a huge amount of work has been done.
But we have to get ready for that possibility in order to get a deal.
PB: You say you want a deal - what exactly will you offer EU leaders this week that you’re so sure they’ll accept?
PM: Well I’m not so sure they will accept.
I hope that they will and I think they should, I think it’s a very good offer - we will have to work very hard but if you don’t mind I won’t negotiate with them through your good offices.
PB: There have been leaks in the newspapers, prime minister, talks of custom check points, of check posts. Is anyone of that true?
PM: Well no that’s inaccurate and insofar as the leaks refer to new infrastructure anywhere that is not what is envisaged.
PB: There will be no physical checks to be clear? You’re not suggesting any physical checks as part of this new deal?
PM: I think what you have to recognise is if UK has to come out of customs union - as it must - and that’s the right thing for us to do, because if we are actually to take advantage of Brexit, then the whole of the UK has got to come out.
And in those circumstances then the EU itself insists on there being some checks.
What we are saying is those checks don’t need to take place at the border, they don’t need to necessitate, they don’t need to involve new infrastructure, but you must, and this where rubber hits road but you must have checks of some kind.
Those can be checks between importer and exporter, the expediter and the recipient, there are ways of managing it that don’t involve physical infrastructure and aren’t laborious.
PB: So no physical infrastructure? You are ruling that out?
PM: The suggestion that...I know... You are quite right.
Suggestions that we are creating new customs checks five miles in from new border is obviously not right.
I've seen what Simon Coveney has had to say about that and I would agree with him about that.
PB: Are chances of deal increasing or decreasing?
PM: I think chances of a deal are good but it depends on common sense and it depends on both sides really working together to get this thing done.
Look it is going to be a tough period now but we have got to get through and we have got to come out of EU on October 31 because when I look at the state of debate in politics at the moment, it’s been going on too long this discussion.
I think both in the UK and in the EU, people want done with it.
PB: Will you as reported, as part of a deal, ask EU to rule out any further extension to the Brexit deadline.
PM: We haven’t done any such thing so far, but I don’t think that our friends really want us to stay in beyond October 31, that’s not where they are, that's not where we are, let's get it done.
PB: Would it be helpful to you?
PM: Not my impression. With great respect to you Paul, I’m not going to negotiate through you.
PB: Just want to talk about a bit of other policy too. County lines is an issue that ITV News has followed very closely, we've done a lot of investigations into it.
What we have found it is not about treating gangs, it is about austerity and cuts in public financing of things like youth clubs.
All the announcements today are about treating symptom not cause aren't they.
PM: No but also we are doing huge amount to finance youth clubs and we'll be putting investment into training for young people, more into FE, Further Education, more into education on the whole, levelling up funding of education across the country.
Agree with you Paul, that is the way, that is best antidote to any criminal instinct in the country.
If people have the opportunity to get a good job, if they have diversions from crime, obviously that is vital, but at the same time you do need to be very tough with the County Lines gangs.
They are terrible guys, the people that are running these gangs, masterminding it, they are using young kids as drugs mules who are throwing away their lives on the streets of our towns and cities to feed drugs habits, this needs to be rolled up, need to look at both ends of it.
But you also need a strong law and order response to county lines.
PB: Just lastly, because we've got to wrap this up now prime minister. I've seen out and about, I've been with you when you've been out and about.
You do draw a crowd when you go out, many people come and say let's get Brexit done, but others do come and heckle you.
How do you cope with that confrontation?
PM: I’ve obviously got to soak it up. I’m very proud to be prime minister, at a very fascinating moment for our country. I enjoy, I love every day that I do the job.
PB: Does it bother you being divisive?
PM: Well if I may, and get back to back to my key point, the way bring our county together, the way to heal the rifts in our country, is to deliver on the mandate of people, which was the single biggest vote that any party or proposition in the history of this country.
One of the reasons perhaps that there is a bit of shock and shell at the moment, is that quite a few people that don’t necessarily want to get Brexit done, and rightly or wrongly they think that I am going to get it done, I am going to get it done and of course they want to do what they can to interrupt that and I think that would be a real mistake.
Democracy requires that we deliver on Brexit and that’s what we are going to do.
PB: And very, very finally, because we always have to ask you a fun question at the end prime minister.
You’ve described yourself in the past as being like the Hulk?
PM: Yeah yeah yeah!
PB: But even he turns back into a sensitive scientist.
PM: Yeah Bruce Banner.
PB: What softer alter ego would you compare yourself to? You’re not all...
PM: I would be proud to be compared to Bruce Banner the nuclear physicist, he was...look I think you’re asking a very good question Paul.
I’ve been tasked with getting Brexit over the line in a time of national controversy.
There is no way of fudging it. You can’t be half in and half out of the EU, you can’t be 52% out and 48% in, it just doesn’t work.
PB: Do you still have that softer side?
PM: Of course - I don’t know what you mean exactly by that, but yes, I suppose yes.