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Johnson dodges LBC radio host’s questions about his children

PM refuses to comment when asked how involved he is in his children’s lives

WT24 Desk

Boris Johnson has refused to disclose how many children he has or whether he is involved in their lives, in an appearance on a radio phone-in show during which he was questioned over past comments about single mothers, The Guardian reports.

Answering listeners’ questions on LBC, Johnson was challenged by one caller about an article he wrote in 1995 in which he blamed single mothers for “producing a generation of ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate children.”

The caller, Ruth from Oldham, said: “I am a single mother. I don’t appreciate what you have said about single mothers, and by implication my family. Why are you happy to criticise people like me, when you refuse to discuss your family?”

It is known that Johnson has four children with his estranged wife, Marina, and it is believed he has one or possibly more offspring from other relationships, though Johnson has always refused to discuss this.

Johnson told Ruth he meant “absolutely no disrespect to you, or indeed to anybody” in the Spectator article, in which he also argued that social housing available to single mothers was “an enticement” for them to become pregnant.

Johnson went on: “But these are 25-year-old quotations culled from articles from before even I was in politics, and when you actually look at the article itself it bears no resemblance to what is claimed. Frankly, what it is is yet another attempt by the Labour party to distract from the fundamental issue at the heart of this election.”

The prime minister repeatedly, without presenting evidence, said claims that he had expressed sexist and racist opinions in articles were misrepresenting his view.

In a more recent article he described Muslim women who wear a burqa as looking like a “bank robber” or “letterbox”.

Johnson said on LBC: “Almost invariably, when you look at these articles, you will find that the actual piece is saying the opposite of what is claimed.”

The show’s host, Nick Ferrari, then pressed Johnson on how many children he had.

“I think what people what to hear is what plans we have,” Johnson replied. “I love my children very much but they are not standing at this election and I’m not therefore going to comment.”

Asked if he was “fully and wholly involved in all their lives”, Johnson again refused to comment, saying: “I am not going to put them on to the pitch in this election campaign.”

Pressed further on the tone of his articles, Johnson again apologised if offence was taken, but declined to rescind any of the stated views.

“When I write this stuff, I never set out to cause pain or hurt,” he said. “I really do want to make sure that everybody feels that they are valued, that they face no prejudice, that they face no discrimination.”

The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, criticised Johnson’s comments. She said: “He tried to deny what he wrote but the evidence is there in black and white for us all to see, proving once again that he’s a liar as well as a sexist.

“According to Boris Johnson, when I was a young single mum I should have been pushed into ‘destitution on a Victorian scale’. Johnson appallingly and hypocritically claims that children of single mums are ‘ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate’.”

Elsewhere on the hour-long show, Johnson declined to say whether he would follow other party leaders in submitting to a BBC interview by Andrew Neil, saying: “I’m much happier, frankly, to talk about my policies, what we’re doing for the people of this country, rather than endlessly talking about media and process.”

On Brexit, he guaranteed the UK would leave the EU “at the latest” on 31 January under a Conservative government. He declined to say what would happen if this deadline was not met.

“If we get a working majority in the House of Commons, I absolutely guarantee we will be out on 31 January. I am making no saving clauses,” he said.

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