Boris Johnson has defended disparaging remarks he made about single mothers, telling a voter they were made before he was “even in politics”.
Written in an article for The Spectator magazine in 1995, the Conservative Party leader described the children of single mothers as “ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate”.
The prime minister was put to task over the NHS, trade deals and the promises of 50,000 more nurses by callers on the LBC radio.
During a phone-in Mr Johnson was quizzed over the 25-year-old article by a single mother named Ruth from Oldham.
She told the PM she was unhappy about the content of the article and questioned why he was reluctant to talk about his own family.
In the column written 25 years ago, the Prime Minister said it was “outrageous” that married couples “should pay for ‘the single mothers’ desire to procreate independently of men”.
Mr Johnson said: “Ruth, I want to say to you, I mean absolutely no disrespect to you or anybody.
“These are 25-year-old quotations culled from articles written I think before I was even in politics.”
He said the quotes were stripped of context and formed part of a smear campaign by Labour.
“They’re just trying to distract from the reality that they have no plan to get out of the EU.”
And on Britain leaving the European Union, Mr Johnson said the end of January deadline was still achievable with a Conservative majority.
A caller from Abbey Wood asked the Prime Minister if he would rather leave the EU or become Prime Minister.
Mr Johnson said: "I would rather have got us out of the EU, I can tell you that."
Asked by host Nick Ferrari about his comments on being "dead in a ditch", Mr Johnson said if his party got a working majority it would "come out as soon as we could".
Pushed on the potential of leaving on New Year's Eve, Mr Johnson said he "won't make that pledge".
When asked further by Ferarri if he needs to cancel his New Year's Eve party, Mr Johnson said: "New Year's Eve goes ahead.
"What we can do, get the Withdrawal Bill back into the Commons before Christmas and we're definitely out by January 31."
An LBC caller named David in Maidstone asked the Prime Minister about Brexit and the possibility for international trade deals.
Mr Johnson said: "We've got talks under way with many countries."
But he was unable to give details about the number of deals which had been done, he addded: "There are a number that are oven-ready. I will have to come back and give you the number."
Asked to name four of the countries, Mr Johnson identified "ample opportunities to do deals with India, China, Australia, New Zealand", but added: "I am not going to say they are 'oven-ready'."
When quizzed on how long it would take to do a trade deal with the EU, Mr Johnson said: "We've set a deadline of the end of next year and I see no reason to go beyond that deadline."
But the Prime Minister insisted he would "walk out" of trade talks with the US if it wanted the NHS to be on the table.
Speaking on LBC radio, he said: "The NHS is not for sale and under no circumstances will this Government or any Conservative government do anything to put the NHS up for negotiation in trade talks or privatising or anything like that.
"I can tell you that were the United States or any other country to insist on that as a condition of talks, we would simply walk out.
"It is perfectly obvious as leader of this country that if any government was to be so mad as to go down that route then they would never be elected."
"If actually, you read that stuff it was pure Bermuda Triangle stuff from the Labour Party because there was no evidence of that at all that the UK government was wanting to sell the NHS or to parlay the NHS in trade talks. It was absolutely not substantiated."
Presenter Nick Ferrari praised the Prime Minister's performance at the ITV Leader's Debate but questioned if the voters could trust him after he was laughed at during the event.
Mr Johnson told listeners: "When I say that I'm going to do something in politics and I pledge to get on and do it, I achieve overwhelmingly what I set out to do."
Challenged on not delivering the Garden Bridge project as London Mayor, Mr Johnson said: "Since you raise the Garden Bridge in the way that you always do, I will point out that it was a viable project.
"We left it in good effect. The current Mayor of London, I might remind you, invested a further £17 million of taxpayers' money in the Garden Bridge before himself deciding wrongly in my view to cancel it."
Speaking to Janet from Sunderland, a nurse and Waspi - Women Against State Pension Inequality - woman, the Prime Minister refused to commit to compensating her generation of women for the pension they lost when retirement aged was moved from 60 to 66.
Mr Johnson said it was "not clear where the money was coming from" on Labour's £58 billion commitment to Waspi women.
"On the Waspi point, I really appreciate the frustration and disappointment so many Waspi -women feel about their situation. I understand very much how that has come about," said the PM.
"What I can't do now, Janet, is extemporise some (compensation amount)... it wasn't at all clear to me where this (Labour) money is coming from, to be polite to Mr Corbyn.
"We have to manage our economy and £58 billion is a lot."
The Tory leader said his administration would do "everything we can to help" those impacted by the pension change.
The Prime Minister was also challenged on the Conservatives' pledge to have "50,000 new nurses", with Mr Johnson admitting that only 31,000 would be new recruits.
Mr Johnson said: "I do understand the controversy around this. There are 19,000 that are currently in nursing at the moment... and we thank them very much."
He added: "The risk is they will leave the profession and we're putting in the funds to make sure that they stay but there a further 31,000 that we wish to recruit."