Boris Johnson accused of 'Trumpian tactics' as he kicks off leadership bid

PUBLISHED: 18:32 12 June 2019 | UPDATED: 19:05 12 June 2019

Boris Johnson during the launch of his campaign to become leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party and Prime Minister. Photograph:: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Boris Johnson during the launch of his campaign to become leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party and Prime Minister. Photograph:: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Boris Johnson has been accused of encouraging Trump-style tactics against journalists in his leadership bid launch.

Journalists Beth Rigby and Laura Kuenssberg were booed at the launch by Johnson's supporters, after they asked him challenging questions on his past record.

He mocked the BBC's politics editor Kuenssberg for a "minestrone" of a question in which she outlined some of his past record before asking "can the country trust you?"

His supporters jeered the comment.

Sky News's Beth Rigby asked: "You brandish your Brexit credentials but many of your colleagues worry about your character," she said, describing when Johnson's foreign office colleagues had admonished him for referring to Theresa May's plan as a "suicide vest wrapped around Britain".

"You brought shame on your party when you described veiled Muslim women as 'letterboxes' and 'bank robbers'," continued Rigby, to boos from the crowd.

"People who have worked closely with you do not think you're fit to be prime minister."

READ: Boris Johnson disputes claims he's unfit to be PM

Johnson egged the boos on to further jeering by saying he was "delighted" that his supporters seemed to disagree with her.

Johnson also came under fire for permitting only six questions from the media.

The exchange soon received comment from social media users, journalists, and from other politicians.

Sajid Javid opened the press conference at his leadership launch by promising journalists they would not be booed.

Sky News political correspondent Lewis Goodall tweeted: "Johnson's jokey, casual and altogether quite rude dismissal of serious questioning from both [Laura Kuenssberg] and [Beth Rigby] was not a good look.

"Especially given those six precious questions are the only public scrutiny he's received so far or likely to receive any time soon."

He was retweeting the Guardian's chief political correspondent Jessica Elgot, who said: "The most depressing thing this morning was actual sitting Members of Parliament *booed* a journalist for asking a question about something a candidate wrote in a newspaper column."

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