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Fri 13 December 2019
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He’s likely to be our next Prime Minister and said the public wants politicians who say it like it is. These queries from James Hanning should pose no problem to Boris Johnson then…

1. How many children do you have? 

We know about four by his marriage to soon-to-be-divorced wife Marina Wheeler, plus one – revealed by order of a judge – by Helen McIntyre. But, there were reports in that court case of another child. Reports which Johnson has never explained. 


2. Do you agree that donations to leadership campaigns should be declared in good time for party members to be able to know whose interests the candidates might also be serving? 

Apart from the standard register of MPs’ interests, Johnson’s office will not confirm who is offering him their financial backing.

Yet, the advice he is reportedly receiving from uber-strategist Lynton Crosby normally costs around £250,000 a month.

As Johnson has declared receiving no benefit in kind, somebody must be paying.


3. Is the advice you are receiving from Lynton Crosby being paid for by your friend Christopher Moran? 

Philanthropist Moran, thrown out of Lloyds of London for “discreditable conduct” in 1982, is famously generous to the Tory Party and its aspiring leaders. He is known to be very friendly with Lynton Crosby. 


4. Is billionaire Brexiteer hedge funder Crispin Odey contributing? 

Odey said in October that he would contribute when the campaign started.

Surely it would be easy enough to confirm that he is now doing so? This week his office would not do so. Maybe for some reason his friend Lynton Crosby has asked him not to. 


5. When did you stop being a climate change denier?  

In the early 2000s, Johnson wrote that the “eco-warriors’ case [against cars] is nonsense” and that “there is no evidence that the planet is suffering from the extreme weather patterns associated with climate change”.

In February 2006, he said fear of climate change was “like a religion” and that he was “bubbling with blasphemous thoughts”.

He later confessed to being “far too terrified to dissent from the growing world creed of global warming” and seemed to accept the scientific consensus. But, as recently as 2013, he talked admiringly of climate change sceptic Piers Corbyn, brother of the Labour leader, who believes we are moving into a new ice age.

Where does he stand on this now?

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6. Do you regret asking Sir David King to suppress news of cuts you made to the Foreign Office’s climate change observers? 

The Government’s former chief scientific adviser told The Times this week that he didn’t trust Johnson on climate change, and that the former Foreign Secretary had asked him not to make public cuts Johnson had ordered.

Or is Sir David making this up? 


7. What has happened to make you no longer say you will lie in front of the bulldozers to stop the third runway at Heathrow?

Johnson, as MP for Ruislip, was one of the most fervent and persistent opponents of the scheme to be a third runway at west London’s Heathrow Airport.

However, his opposition has been muted recently and he has turned down opportunities to repeat the promise. Why? 


8. Do you really believe that your remarks over Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had no impact on her case?  

Johnson has said that his claim that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, imprisoned in Iran, was teaching journalism there – which had been previously denied by the Foreign Office – “made no difference” to her case.

Her husband Robert Ratcliffe disagrees. Currently on hunger strike, he says it enabled a propaganda war and a second court case to be brought against her, and that she has been discredited ever since.

This is an appalling human tragedy. Aren’t his own interests, if nothing else, telling him to simply admit that he made a mistake and to apologise?


9. Where is the proof that some tried-and-tested technical arrangement exists that would enable the Northern Ireland border to remain completely open to the free movement of people, goods and animals? 

It’s a simple question that no one has yet answered.

The concern is that even the best existing solution would require turning a blind eye to smuggling. 


10. Are there any circumstances under which the UK, with you as premier, won’t leave the EU at the end of October?

Johnson says it is feasible to arrange a deal to leave by that date, while also claiming the support of hard Brexiteers who favour a ‘no deal’ if necessary.

He cannot have it both ways. Which side is most likely to be let down? 


11. Will you rule out a referendum on any final deal?

About four years ago, before the 2016 EU Referendum, Johnson was reported as favouring two referendums – a vote to leave or remain, and then a second on whether the negotiated deal was acceptable. As we know, that plan was not accepted.

Was that story true then and, in hindsight, doesn’t it seem like a good idea? 


12. Are there any circumstances under which you would come to an accommodation or pact with Nigel Farage?

In the event of a General Election being called, it might be convenient to have the Brexit Party on the Tories’ side – but many Conservatives would be aghast at the idea.


13. How do you explain the fact that Steve Bannon has been filmed saying he advised you on a speech that you denied he had any part in? Are you not proud of your association with him?

Johnson has denied seeking counsel from right-wing media executive and Trump’s former presidential campaign manager Steve Bannon, saying that he had only exchanged a few text messages with him and told Bannon he was unable to meet him while he was in Britain last year. So, why would Bannon say otherwise?

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