News ID: 254712
Published: 0323 GMT June 22, 2019

Johnson domestic 'row' rocks UK leadership race

Johnson domestic 'row' rocks UK leadership race

Britain's leadership contest was rocked on Saturday by reports that police were called to a late-night "row" between frontrunner Boris Johnson and his partner, just hours before campaigning opens to win over grassroots Conservatives.

The Guardian said officers were alerted early on Friday after a neighbor said there had been a loud altercation involving screams, shouts and bangs at the south London property, shortly after Johnson had secured his place in the final runoff to become prime minister.

The paper said late Friday Johnson's partner Carrie Symonds could be heard telling the former London mayor to "get off me" and "get out of my flat," AFP reported.

London's Metropolitan Police said it responded to a call from a local resident but that "all occupants of the address... were all safe and well."

Johnson is the runaway favorite to beat Jeremy Hunt, but will face questions over the incident on Saturday when he and Hunt kick off a month-long nationwide tour to win over the grassroots Conservatives, who have the final say.

Whoever takes the Tory party leadership in the week beginning July 22 – and therefore becomes prime minister – will then face the looming Brexit deadline of October 31.

The battle is likely to feature pledges from both contenders to take Britain out of the European Union safely and in one piece, succeeding where outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May repeatedly failed.

But the race might ultimately turn into a popularity contest between Johnson – pugnacious but affable with a tendency for gaffes – and the more diplomatic, low-key Hunt.

The "row" was splashed across the front pages of most newspapers on Saturday, and while bookmakers were still betting for Johnson, pundits warned the incident could harm his chances.

"Much will depend on the next 24 hours and whether the audio said to have been recorded by a concerned neighbor emerges," said The Times newspaper.

"At the very least it will ensure a leadership race that had started to look like a formality might in fact be something of more consequence."

After the MPs whittled down the original field of 13, it is now up to the 160,000 or so paid-up Conservative members who select the center-right party's next leader.

According to Times commentator Matthew Parris, the group comprises "classic shire Tories", as well as poorer urban workers who are anti-European and more populist in their views.

The winner will need to succeed where May failed in pushing a deal with the EU through parliament, or face the prospect of leaving without a deal, which MPs have warned could collapse the government and trigger a general election.




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