On 1 October, Boris Johnson took part in three interviews. Each and every one of them was a total car crash. And in each and every one, his lies didn’t stop.
Johnson started off on the BBC Breakfast show. He then moved on to BBC R4‘s Today show and then to LBC radio. In each show, he rolled out a barrage of lies, failed to answer direct questions, and blamed everyone except himself for pretty much everything.
For example, LBC‘s Nick Ferrari caught him red-handed by asking if Naga Munchetty had breached “editorial guidelines at the BBC by calling Donald Trump a racist?”. Johnson claimed he’d never heard of Munchetty but that he “should know” and turned to his aides to see if they did. “Your whole team,” Ferrari pointed out, “is putting their hands up”. Johnson just smirked.
Nick Ferrari: "Did Naga Munchetty breach editorial guidelines at the BBC by calling Donald Trump a racist?"
Boris Johnson: "I so sorry, I just don't… I've never heard of Naga Munchetty. Has anyone heard of Naga Munchetty?"
Nick Ferrari: "Your whole team has their hands up." pic.twitter.com/NuirgXrAOs
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— LBC (@LBC) October 1, 2019
He completely denied allegations of sexual misconduct made by journalist Charlotte Edwardes. When asked directly about this, he told BBC Breakfast that this “is a very difficult time” and that he’d come in for “a certain amount of shot and shell” for trying to deliver Brexit. When pushed further, he claimed three times the allegations are “not true” and said it was “very sad that someone should make such allegations”.
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) October 1, 2019
So Johnson, who’s on the record for repeatedly lying, effectively accused Edwardes of lying instead.
All three shows asked Johnson about leaked plans concerning the Irish border. On 30 September, RTÉ News published “highly controversial” details of proposals that:
would effectively mean customs posts being erected on both sides of the border, but located perhaps five to ten miles ‘back’ from the actual land frontier.
Throughout all the interviews, Johnson played these claims down. As the Guardian reported, he insisted the leak was ‘out-of-date’. Yet evidence has since emerged proving that this is exactly what Johnson will take to the EU:
SO. Can confirm, per source, that this plan reported by @tconnellyRTE IS indeed in the UK #Brexit backstop proposal that Boris Johnson will start to brief to EU Leaders tomorrow, per @Telegraph – utterly extraordinary /1https://t.co/x4Jo7mTUgX https://t.co/3PxxSLo9TX
— Peter Foster (@pmdfoster) September 30, 2019
Johnson also denied asking EU countries to veto an Article 50 extension. When asked about the Benn Act, Johnson dodged the questions again. This means that if there’s no Brexit deal by 19 October, the prime minister must ask for an extension. Yet, Johnson questioned its legality, saying:
We have bills and an act – the so-called Surrender Act – that I’m afraid has a massive consequence for the people and economy of this country were it to be effected.
We have no knowledge of how it was produced. It is not subject to normal parliamentary scrutiny. No-one knows by whose advice or legal advice it was drawn up.
On 4 September, the Act passed through the commons following an emergency debate. It received royal assent on 9 September.
Johnson told Nick Robinson on BBC Today perhaps the biggest lie of all. Claiming he’s still “the old, generous-hearted, loving” person he’s always been:
"The old, generous-hearted, loving, caring Mayor of London – that person has not gone away."
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) October 1, 2019
Labour’s David Lammy took this claim straight down:
Boris Johnson says he is a "generous-hearted, loving, caring … one-nation Tory".
So far as PM he has expelled 21 MPs from his party, lied to the Queen, unlawfully suspended Parliament to avoid scrutiny and dismissed MPs concerns about death threats as "humbug".#R4Today
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) October 1, 2019
But many people also pointed out that Nick Robinson let lies go unchallenged, suggesting the interview was basically a “puff piece”:
Oh look. One of BBC R4 Today's resident Tories, Nick Robinson, doing a puff piece on Boris Johnson. Astonishing that this mendacious, philandering, lying, cheating sociopath is still revered by the BBC. What a sad reflection on a once great institution.
— Thomas James (@ThomasJ58805552) October 1, 2019
At least 10 lies or blatant obfuscations from Boris Johnson went unchallenged by Nick Robinson on #r4today. So few of our broadcast journalists are up to the job.
— Mark Bussell (@TheLastBus) October 1, 2019
Johnson also claimed he’d been “tasked” to deliver Brexit. Robinson failed to question or unpack this claim:
The "British people" who "tasked" Boris Johnson are 92,153 Conservative Party members
— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) October 1, 2019
#BBCR4today @bbcnickrobinson Boris Johnson "the majority of the British public, whether they voted leave or remain, want to get this [Brexit] done". Nick Robinson replies "understood". What a pathetic standard of journalism. Ask BJ for evidence for that claim.
— Marcus Milburn 🕷 #FBPE #StopBrexit (@marcusrm) October 1, 2019
Taken together, these three interviews highlight just how far Johnson’s lies go. Indeed, as one Twitter user said, he’s a “charlatan”:
— A Series of Terrible Decisions Led to This Moment (@Tesseraction) October 1, 2019
Charlatan he may be, but Johnson isn’t clueless. Backed by Dominic Cummings and his right-wing government, this is a clear and dangerous strategy. The constant lying means we’re put in a constant place of firefighting and distraction. Unpacking all these lies may well prove impossible, but we can’t ignore them. And they also show how much we need a media willing to step up to confront them.
Featured image via ©UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor
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