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Boris Johnson: We'd walk out of talks that would risk the NHS

29 November 2019, 09:16 | Updated: 29 November 2019, 13:15

By Asher McShane

Boris Johnson has repeated his pledge that the NHS is not for sale under the Tories in an exclusive interview with LBC.

Mr Johnson was taking questions from Nick Ferrari and listeners when he said the NHS is not up for grabs, a key part of Jeremy Corbyn’s general election campaign.

Mr Johnson said: “The NHS is not for sale and under no circumstances would this government or any conservative government do anything to put the NHS up for negotiation in trade talks or privatising - anything like that.

Watch the Prime Minister's interview in full here

"Were the United States or any other country to insist on that as a condition of talks, we would simply walk out.”

"It is perfectly obvious as leader of this country that if any government was to be so mad as to go down that route then they would never be elected."

"If actually, you read that stuff it was pure Bermuda Triangle stuff from the Labour Party because there was no evidence of that at all that the UK government was wanting to sell the NHS or to parlay the NHS in trade talks. It was absolutely not substantiated."

Pressed by a listener whether he would choose between delivering Brexit or being Prime Minister, Mr Johnson said he would rather take Britain out of Europe.

Mr Johnson also refused to be drawn on what he said to Jacob Rees-Mogg after his controversial remark about the victims of the Grenfell fire where he suggested they lacked common sense for not ignoring the London Fire Brigade's advice to stay put during the blaze in which 72 people died.

Mr Johnson said Mr Rees-Mogg was "campaigning actively around the country".

Asked if he spoke to Mr Rees-Mogg about his comments on Grenfell, Mr Johnson said: "I'm not going to go into my conversations with colleagues."

On whether he will appoint Mr Rees-Mogg in his cabinet following the election, Mr Johnson said: "I'm not going to get into measuring the curtains-type conversations."

Challenged on not delivering the Garden Bridge project as London Mayor, Mr Johnson said: "Since you raise the Garden Bridge in the way that you always do, I will point out that it was a viable project.

"We left it in good effect. The current Mayor of London, I might remind you, invested a further £17 million of taxpayers' money in the Garden Bridge before himself deciding wrongly in my view to cancel it."

Mr Johnson was also heavily criticised over the remarks he made for the Spectator magazine in 1995 in which he described the children of single mothers as "ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate".

The Prime Minister said it was "outrageous" that married couples "should pay for 'the single mothers' desire to procreate independently of men".

Mr Johnson was put to task over the comments by a single mother named Ruth from Oldham.

She told the PM she was unhappy about the content of the article and questioned why he was reluctant to talk about his own family.

Mr Johnson said: "Ruth, I want to say to you, I mean absolutely no disrespect to you or anybody.

"These are 25-year-old quotations culled from articles written I think before I was even in politics."

Angela Rayner, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said in response: “Boris Johnson’s refusal to apologise for his hateful comments about single mothers, their children and working class men is an absolute disgrace.

"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."

Boris went into the interview amid criticism after refusing an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil who has so far interviewed SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Neil is due to interview Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage next week. Conservative sources also suggested today that the party may view Channel 4’s broadcasting position after it replaced the Prime Minister with an ice sculpture when he refused to take part in a climate change debate.

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