London, June 23: Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson faced persistent questions about his character and suitability to be the next British prime minister following the domestic row with his partner that prompted the police to visit their flat in central London on Friday.
On Sunday, the news media retained focus on the altercation, with banner headlines asking ‘Why won’t Boris tell us what happened?’ (Sunday Express), ‘Boris row was so frightening I had to call the police’ (Sunday Mirror) and claims that ‘Boris ‘is a security risk’” (The Sunday Times).
Johnson’s personality is being posited against that of his rival, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt as a clash between ‘the blond and the bland’. Over 1.6 lakh Conservative party members are due to cast their votes on who among them will be their next leader and the prime minister.
Johnson dodged questions on the partner row at the first of their 16 hustings in Birmingham on Saturday, trying to shift the focus on his achievements as the mayor of London and plans for Brexit. Hunt came across as a measured man who would not make promises he could not keep.
As critics railed at Johnson and supporters rallied behind him on the ground it is a private matter, international trade secretary Liam Fox said it would be “easier” for Johnson to “just give an explanation” about the row recorded by his neighbour.
Fox told BBC television that reports of the row between Johnson and partner Carrie Symonds should not be a “distraction” from policy discussion in the leadership race, but added that it is ‘fair’ for candidates to be asked questions about their character.
The outcome of the election to replace Prime Minister Theresa May will be known in the week beginning July 22, but it will be another occasion of an Oxford-educated person entering Downing Street; both Johnson and Hunt went to Oxford.
There have so far been 27 British prime ministers who were educated at Oxford, including recent ones such as May, David Cameron, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and Harold Wilson. (Courtesy: HT)