Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 September 2019

Boris Johnson’s rival for UK leader accuses him of cowardice

Former foreign secretary has kept a low public profile since new questions were raised about his personal conduct

Former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson is the frontrunner to be the country's next prime minister. EPA
Former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson is the frontrunner to be the country's next prime minister. EPA

The front runner to become the UK’s next prime minister was accused of cowardice on Monday for avoiding public scrutiny in the run-up to the leadership election.

Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, has refused to answer questions about a domestic incident at the home of his girlfriend. He has also turned down a series of offers by broadcasters to discuss his policy plans.

His rival, the current foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, wrote in a newspaper column on Monday that the prospective leaders’ arguments had to be “subjected to scrutiny” to ensure they had the legitimacy to run the country.

“Only then can you walk through the front door of No 10 with your head held high instead of slinking through the back door, which is what Boris appears to want,” he wrote in The Times newspaper.

“So don’t be a coward Boris, man up and show the nation you can cope with the intense scrutiny the most difficult job in the country will involve.”

In a separate newspaper column published on Monday, Mr Johnson, 55, avoided comment about the loud row at the London flat with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds, 31, that has raised questions about his character.

Mr Johnson focused his message on ensuring that the UK will leave the European Union by October 31, a message that he believes will resonate with the 160,000 members of the ruling Conservative Party who will vote in the new leader.

Mr Johnson was seen as the clear favourite to succeed Theresa May and his campaign team has sought to limit his appearances before the cameras to avoid controversial statements that could derail his campaign – and have previously dogged his career.

Updated: June 24, 2019 01:09 PM

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