Boris Johnson today urged Donald Trump not to interfere in the general election campaign when he visits the UK next week for a Nato summit.
Senior Tory figures are concerned the US President could derail Mr Johnson’s hopes of victory on December 12 if he delivers one of his trademark bombshells during his visit.
Mr Trump has previously been effusive in his praise for the PM but this morning Mr Johnson suggested he wanted his ally to refrain from getting involved in the battle for Number 10.
Mr Johnson told LBC radio during a phone-in: ‘We have very close relationships and friendships with the United States at every level of government but what we don’t do traditionally as loving allies and friends is get involved in each other’s election campaigns.’
His comments came after a senior Tory campaign source told The Sun: ‘Trump could say anything. We have no control over it. It’s a very unwelcome disruption.’
Mr Trump will arrive for the two-day visit on Monday as he attends the Nato summit in London.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson also used the LBC phone-in to insist that he would be willing to sacrifice his premiership if that was the price of delivering Brexit.
He then said he could ‘absolutely guarantee’ the UK will leave the EU by January 31 ‘at the latest’ if the Tories win a majority next month.
Boris Johnson, pictured during an appearance on LBC Radio this morning, guaranteed the UK will leave the EU by January 31 if he wins a majority as he urged Donald Trump not to interfere in the election
Mr Trump, pictured in Afghanistan yesterday, has previously praised Mr Johnson but Tory figures are worried a bombshell from the US President could derail the PM’s hopes of staying in Number 10
PM under pressure over comments he made in 1995 about single mothers
Boris Johnson today insisted comments in which he described single mothers as ‘irresponsible’ and working-class men as ‘feckless’ are 25 years old and have been taken out of context.
The Prime Minister has been urged to apologise for making the remarks in a magazine article published in 1995.
He was confronted over them this morning during an LBC radio phone-in as Ruth, a single mother, told him: ‘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?’
Mr Johnson said: ‘Obviously, Ruth I want to say first of all to you that I mean absolutely no disrespect to you or indeed to anybody.
‘These are 25-year-old quotations culled from articles written I think before I was even in politics.
‘And which actually, when you look at the article itself bears no resemblance to what is claimed.
‘Frankly what it is… this is yet another attempt by the Labour Party to distract from the fundamental issue at the heart of this election.
‘Almost invariably when you look at these articles you will find that that the actual piece is saying the opposite of what is claimed.’
Mr Johnson added that the way in which the comments had been presented was an ‘absolute distortion’ of ‘what I say and what I think’.
Asked directly which he would choose if he had the choice between continuing to be PM and taking the UK out of the EU, Mr Johnson replied: ‘I would rather have got us out of the EU. I can tell you that.’
Asked if that meant he would prioritise Brexit over being PM, Mr Johnson said: ‘Yes, of course.’
Mr Johnson also raised the prospect of the UK leaving the EU before the current deadline.
‘If we can get a working majority then we will come out on January 31 at the absolute latest,’ he said.
Mr Johnson would not commit to an earlier departure date but added: ‘We would come out as soon as we could but we would come out at the latest on January 31.’
He continued: ‘If we get a working majority in the House of Commons then I absolutely guarantee we will be out by January 31.’
Mr Johnson also repeated his vow that the UK would not agree to extend the Brexit transition period beyond the end of next year.
He insisted he believed the EU and Britain will be able to agree to the terms of a new trading relationship on the current timetable.
Asked about the December 31, 2020 trade talks deadline, Mr Johnson said: ‘I see no reason to go beyond that deadline.’
Mr Johnson then faced questions over Jacob Rees-Mogg’s low profile in the Tory election campaign after the Commons Leader was forced to apologise for making insensitive remarks about the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy as the race for Number 10 was getting underway.
Mr Johnson insisted Mr Rees-Mogg has been ‘campaigning actively around the country’ amid accusations he has been deliberately sidelined.
Asked if Mr Rees-Mogg would return to a more prominent role after the election, Mr Johnson would not give a firm commitment.
The PM said: ‘I am not going to go into my conversations with colleagues. I am not going to get into measuring-up-the-curtains type conversations.’
Mr Johnson then doubled down on the Tories’ manifesto tax ‘triple lock’ as he said ‘read my lips – no new taxes on income or VAT or national insurance’ during the next parliament.
He added: ‘On the contrary what we’re going to do is… have sustained economic growth and we’re doing that by sensible management of the economy.’
Mr Johnson also said business rates were ‘too high’ and would be cut ‘in the first budget’.
The PM also insisted he would ‘walk out’ of trade talks with the US if it wanted the NHS to be on the table.
‘The NHS is not for sale and under no circumstances will this Government or any Conservative government do anything to put the NHS up for negotiation in trade talks or privatising or anything like that,’ he said.
It came as Downing Street and Channel 4 were at war this morning after Mr Johnson snubbed an election debate and the broadcaster decided to replace him with an ice sculpture.
The Tories sent Michael Gove, the minister for the Cabinet Office and a former environment secretary, to represent them but Channel 4 insisted the event was for party leaders only and turned him away.
The broadcaster’s decision to effectively ban the Conservative Party from the debate prompted Tory fury as Mr Johnson’s team wrote to the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom to make a formal complaint.
Mr Johnson’s head of communications Lee Cain said in the letter that the decision was ‘unfair’ and was part of a ‘wider pattern of bias’ after a Channel 4 executive used a speech in the summer to claim the PM is a ‘known liar’.
A Tory spokesman then accused Channel 4 of ‘conspiring with Jeremy Corbyn’ to stop voters from hearing the Conservatives’ plan for how to tackle the climate emergency.
Mr Johnson also suggested the UK could leave the bloc before January 31 if the Tories win a majority at the election on December 12
The ice sculpture Channel 4 used to replace Boris Johnson after he snubbed last night’s climate change debate
Tory sources said that if they win a majority at the election on December 12 then Channel 4 will face a formal review of its public service broadcasting obligations.
Meanwhile, today Mr Johnson is putting education at the heart of the Tories’ election campaign as he pledged that schools will face tougher checks that include Ofsted inspectors arriving in classrooms without notice.
The Prime Minister also wants to extend the length of inspections in secondary and large primary schools from two days to three.
The extra day would focus on behaviour, bullying and extra-curricular activities such sport.
Rules will also be changed so that schools rated ‘outstanding’ are no longer inspected on a less frequent basis.