As It Happens

U.K. MP wants explanation from Boris Johnson after police show up at Johnson's home

After reports of loud shouting at Boris Johnson's home, MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown is calling on the Tory leadership contender to clear up what happened.

A neighbour said he called police after hearing shouting coming from home Johnson shares with his girlfriend

British Conservative Party leadership and prime minister contender Boris Johnson leaves home in south London. (Matt Dunham/Associated Press)
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Boris Johnson is not usually at a loss for words.

But the leading contender to become Britain's next prime minister is refusing to publicly address why police showed up at his home.

report in The Guardian says a neighbour called police after hearing loud shouting coming from the London home that Johnson shares with his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, early on Friday morning.

"I don't think they want to hear about that kind of thing … I think what they want to hear is what my plans are for the country and for our party," Johnson said when questioned about the incident during an event this weekend.

But Conservative MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown wants Johnson to clarify what happened. Here's part of his conversation with As It Happens guest host Susan Bonner. 

Why do you want Boris Johnson to speak out about this incident at his home the other night?

I think if somebody is going to be prime minister of the United Kingdom, if there is an incident like this, I think the least that they should do is to clarify what happened. 

I think the public do have an expectation that they should know what the character of their future prime minister is. 

If it was just a normal domestic row, I think that's fine. But I think he should just confirm that, rather than hiding away saying nothing.

The police were called by a neighbour who heard a very loud shouting match from the apartment that Mr. Johnson shares with his partner, Carrie Symonds. This neighbour said it was so loud he was worried about the people involved.

Why does this matter, in terms of what Britain is facing and in a party leadership?

I think a normal domestic row doesn't matter a jot. But if it went more than a normal domestic row and somebody really was threatened, then I think that is important.

However, having said that, the police were called. They presumably investigated; they decided there was nothing meriting further investigation.

And I think if Boris Johnson simply confirms that — and that his relationship with Carrie Symonds is carrying on as normal — I think that's all that's required.

Do you worry about intruding on politicians' private lives?

Yes. I do think that it's quite possible that he was set up here by the neighbours. There are all sorts of rumours circulating, which I wouldn't want to go into. But I think it is possible he was set up and, therefore, I think a brief statement from him saying what happened … I think that's all that's required.

Boris Johnson, left, and Jeremy Hunt, right, are vying to be the UK's next prime minister. (Peter Nicholls/Reuters)

Mr. Johnson's leadership rival Jeremy Hunt has called him "disrespectful" and a "coward" and told him to "man up." This was in the papers today. Is that fair?

We mustn't conflate the two. This is in relation to a completely different issue. 

This is the issue of the debate night on television which has had to be cancelled because Boris Johnson is failing to come and debate with his rival.

Now clearly, that is a matter between the two of them. But I think it's a matter that the members of the Conservative Party will take a view on and they will decide whether they think it matters or not. 

Boris Johnson is a man who attracts quite a bit of drama. That's how he plays out his political life in public. Is this something that you think might impact the outcome of the leadership contest or is this, as they say, factored in?

Well, I think ... provided Boris Johnson is able to say, "Look this is just the normal domestic tiff"  that's fine. If it went more than that, and somebody was threatened in any way, then that is a different matter. 

We know what Boris Johnson is like. Everybody knows that. We are not electing somebody who's a paragon of virtue. We're electing somebody who is going to be the right person to lead this country. And that is what the membership will have to judge.

So much hangs in the balance of this leadership contest. The Brexit deadline is in October. The world has been watching what's happening in the country with amazement. Can the party afford to get this wrong?

I think that there is a lot resting on this. There's no question about it. 

I think that either of the two candidates who are elected would make a good prime minister. 

And I think either of them stands a better chance than their predecessor of making this Brexit process work for this reason: we've had a European election, we've got different European members of parliament, we've got different members of the commission, and I don't think it's in our European partners' interests to keep prolonging this ongoing sore. 

Do you think we'll ever know the answer to what really happened in that apartment?

Well I suspect, unless one or the other of them tells us, no we won't.


Written by Katie Geleff with files from The Associated Press. Q&A edited for length and clarity.

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