New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Politics
30 September 2019

Why breaking their silence may be Team Johnson’s downfall

The abandonment of the usual policy of refusing to comment on stories is a bridge that can’t be uncrossed.    

By Stephen Bush

The Conservative Party conference has been derailed by allegations against Boris Johnson, who is accused of groping two women at a lunch while he was Spectator editor. Meanwhile, questions continue to swirl about his relationship with Jennifer Arcuri, and the financial support her companies received during his time as mayor of London.

Downing Street has denied that the thigh-groping ever took place, while Johnson told Andrew Marr that he has “no interest to declare” over Arcuri. These denials may turn out to be Team Johnson’s biggest mistake since he took office. As Ailbhe explains, Charlotte Edwardes, the journalist in question is well liked and litigating her credibility will likely just extend the story. But the bigger mistake may be breaking Team Johnson’s usual policy of not commenting on stories about their candidate’s private life. That’s a bridge that can’t be uncrossed.

While allegations about what Johnson did as Spectator editor speak to his character, one way or another, people have already made their minds up about Johnson and women. But the allegation of corruption and malpractice at the heart of the Arcuri story has the potential to damage and perhaps even destroy Johnson. Downing Street might find that they’ve broken their no comment policy at the worst possible time.

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