Boris Johnson has claimed that allegations about his private life and previous conduct have been made because of attempts by some people to ‘frustrate’ Brexit.
The prime minister accepted it was “inevitable” that he would come under “shot and shell”, but said he thought it was “raining down” on the Government because of his vow to take the UK out of the EU on October 31.
Claims that Johnson squeezed the thigh of journalist Charlotte Edwardes at a private lunch at The Spectator magazine’s HQ shortly after he became editor in 1999 have overshadowed the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
He has also faced allegations about his relationship with American entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri and whether she enjoyed preferential treatment while he was mayor of London.
Johnson insisted Edwardes’ allegations are “not true” and said it was “very sad” that someone should make such claims.
In an interview with LBC radio, the PM suggested the stories had come to light at this time because of his government’s stance on Brexit.
“I think there’s a very good reason, and that is that I’ve been tasked one way or the other to get Brexit done by October 31.
“And there are quite a lot of well-meaning and highly intelligent people who basically think that that would be something they don’t want to see, and I think that there is a concerted effort now to frustrate Brexit.”
Asked if the stories were politically motivated, he replied: “I don’t want to impugn people’s motives or to minimise the importance of the issue. All I can say is that allegation is certainly not true.
“And I think, generally – you asked me about why is all this shot and shell raining down on the government – I think it is because we’re going to get on and deliver Brexit by October 31.”