Where's Johnson? UK PM candidate
criticized for avoiding scrutiny
Send a link to a friend
[June 11, 2019]
By Guy Faulconbridge
LONDON (Reuters) - Boris Johnson, the
favorite to succeed British Prime Minister Theresa May, was criticized
on Tuesday by rivals who said the former foreign minister was avoiding
public scrutiny in the contest.
After three years of political deadlock over Brexit, the ruling
Conservative Party is picking a new leader from 10 candidates and hopes
to have a new prime minister in place by the end of July.
Johnson, who led the official campaign to leave the EU in the 2016
referendum, is the frontrunner to replace May despite a long record of
scandals and gaffes. Betting markets give him a 60 percent probability
of winning the top job.
But rivals have turned on Johnson over his pledges to cut taxes for the
wealthy, deliver Brexit with or without an exit deal and his apparent
desire to keep a low profile.
Rival Matt Hancock said: "I certainly think that everybody who puts
their name forward to be prime minister should be open to scrutiny,
should be accountable.
"Everybody should participate in the proposed TV debates. And I think
we've got to ask the question: why not?" he told BBC radio. "I've got
nothing to hide and that's why I am here."
When asked about Johnson, Mark Harper, another candidate, said: "If
you've got nothing to hide, you won't mind answering questions."
A spokesman for Johnson did not immediately respond to requests for
comment. Johnson left his home in London on Tuesday morning without
comment, a Reuters reporter said. He is due to begin his campaign on
"Time to come out of your bunker, Boris" the Daily Mail, Britain's
second-most-read newspaper, said in an editorial.
"Usually he positively craves media attention ... Yet for weeks now he
has been stuck in his trench, dribbling out vague policy ideas," the
Rivals say he is avoiding the limelight because the contest is his to
lose - a stray word or poorly placed joke could deprive him of his best
chance at getting Britain's top job.
[to top of second column]
Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is running to
succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister, leaves his home in London,
Britain, June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
Johnson made his name as a European Union-bashing journalist in
Brussels, then entered politics in the Conservative Party. He also
raised his profile through a series of appearances on a television
He upset some Europeans before Britain's Brexit referendum by
comparing the goals of the EU with those of Adolf Hitler and
His quick wit and eccentric style helped him shrug off a series of
scandals, among them getting sacked from the partyís policy team
while in opposition for lying about an extra-marital affair. That
and other episodes earned him the tabloid nickname "Bonking Boris".
But where others would have floundered, Johnson became increasingly
popular, culminating in his two victories in usually left-leaning
Londonís mayoral contests in 2008 and 2012.
He was considered a favorite for the top job when David Cameron
resigned after the 2016 referendum. But his close ally, Michael
Gove, abruptly deserted him and announced his own candidacy.
Gove, again one of his main rivals for the leadership, on Monday
"If I get through, which I am sure I will, actually, to the final
two against Mr Johnson, this is what I will say to him: 'Mr Johnson,
whatever you do, donít pull out, I know you have before, and I know
you may not believe in your heart that you can do it, but the
Conservative Party membership deserve a choice'," Gove said.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden and Janet
[© 2019 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2019 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.