‘Perfectly realistic’ to renegotiate Withdrawal Agreement, says Johnson

Conservative Party leadership race frontrunner Boris Johnson has claimed it is “perfectly realistic” to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement to allow Britain to leave the European Union in October.

In his first broadcast interview of the contest, he agreed to take part in a BBC debate – but suggested he would miss one hosted by Channel 4 – amid accusations that he was hiding from the media.

Tory leadership contest latest odds
Tory leadership contest latest odds

And he denied using cocaine since a “single inconclusive event” more than 30 years ago.

The former foreign secretary told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme that he was committed to leaving the EU by October 31 and said the controversial Irish backstop problems could be solved by having checks away from the border.

“There is a clear way that the now effectively defunct Withdrawal Agreement can be disaggregated – the good bits of it can be taken out.”

.@BorisJohnson tells @bbcmarkmardell “I’m more than happy to do the BBC TV debate on Tuesday"Hear the full interview on @bbcworldatone at 1pm #bbcwatopic.twitter.com/hGmHdJocnH

— The World at One (@BBCWorldatOne) June 14, 2019

On the televised debates, he said it was “important that we have a sensible grown-up debate”.

“My own observation is that in the past when you’ve had loads of candidates, it can be slightly cacophonous and I think the public have had quite a lot of blue on blue action frankly over the last three years.”

Tory leadership contest timetable
Tory leadership contest timetable

It came after he was criticised for a lack of media appearances, with his rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, accusing him of hiding from the media and preventing a wider debate in the Tory Party.

Mr Hunt told the BBC: “We can only have that debate if our frontrunner in this campaign is a little bit braver in terms of getting out into the media and actually engaging in debates. Engaging in the TV debates.”