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LISTEN: Boris Johnson struggles to answer questions on Queen's Speech in embarrassing radio interview

LISTEN: Boris Johnson struggles to answer questions on Queen's Speech in embarrassing radio interview

John Ashmore

5 min read

Boris Johnson has come unstuck in an embarrassing radio interview where he struggled to defend the contents of his own government's Queen's Speech.


The Foreign Secretary repeatedly failed to explain how the Government's legislative agenda would deal with the "burning injustices" highlighted by Theresa May when she became Prime Minister. 

They included issues such as lack of help for mental health patients and the difficulties faced by white working class boys in reaching higher education. 

 

 

Host Eddie Mair - who in a memorable previous interview described Mr Johnson as a "nasty piece of work" - kicked off by asking how the Queen's speech addresses racial discrimination in the justice system, another area mentioned by Mrs May.

A hesitant Mr Johnson replied:"There are measure I believe in the bill on the courts which I think is supposed to address some of those issues and I think one thing in particular we are looking at is, um, measures to…hang on a second...

"There are all sorts of measures that we want to take to ensure that we do not discriminate against everybody and, urr, I think you’ll find that the Prime Minister has been strong on that in her response particularly to the attack in Finsbury."

At one point the Foreign Secretary could be heard rustling through his notes in search of an answer, before Mr Mair intervened to point out that the Government is publishing a Racial Disparity Audit later this year.

He was also unconvincing on what measures the Government had planned on mental health.

"What we want to see on mental healthcare is a proper understanding and there indeed I think you will find, to get back to your first question,

Mr Mair interjected: "Why don't we do the question in the order I'm asking them? It's not a Two Ronnies sketch, you can't answer the question before last. I'll tell you what this Queen's Speech says, it promises a review of the laws on mental health and a discussion paper on children's mental health. No policies, just a review and a discussion from a party that has been in government for seven years."

 

Boris Johnson on PM - Highlights


Eddie Mair: On the day she became Prime Minister, Theresa May described several 'burning injustices', as she put it, in our society. I want to look at them. What does this Queen's Speech do to make sure the criminal justice system stops treating black people more harshly than white?

Boris Johnson: There are measures I believe in the bill on the courts which I think is supposed to address some of those issues and I think one thing in particular we are looking at is, um, measures to…hang on a second...There are all sorts of measures that we want to take to ensure that we do not discriminate against everybody and, urr, I think you’ll find that the Prime Minister has been strong on that in her response particularly to the attack in Finsbury [Park

EM: Let me help you, she's talked about a race disparity audit, to be published later this year, it's going to highlight differences in outcomes in every area, including criminal justice but offers no solutions to the burning injustice that she highlighted. I want to ask you about another burning injustice. What does this Queen's Speech do to help white working class boys go to university?

BJ: One of the things we want to see is good schools for everybody and greater investment in our schools and so perhaps the most important thing the Queen's Speech does is continue to support economic growth for this country. So we can invest in our educational...

EM: Working class boys aren't mentioned and neither are universities.

BJ: Can I just make my point? The objective of the Queen's Speech - there are three objectives, the first is to make sure we have a good Brexit, a successful Brexit, a wonderful Brexit.

EM: I'm asking about getting White working class boys to universities

BJ: And if you'll forgive me, I'm coming to that point. What we want to see is a fantastic education system with better schools to make sure there's a ladder of opportunity for everybody so what we'll do is support schools, in particular academies are already being sponsored and supported by universities as you know, it's a great part of their outreach work and access to higher education for all sectors of the community, particularly White working class boys is one of their priorities

EM: Let me turn to another burning injustice, what does this Queen's Speech do for mental healthcare?

BJ: What we want to see on mental healthcare is a proper understanding and there indeed I think you will find, to get back to your first question...

EM: Why don't we do the question in the order I'm asking them? It's not a Two Ronnies sketch, you can't answer the question before last. I'll tell you what this Queen's Speech says. It promises a review of the laws on mental and a discussion paper on children's mental health. No policies, just a review and a discussion from a party that has been in government for seven years.

BJ: I appreciate your desire to push me around... I've tried to give you some answers to those things.

EM: In this Queen's Speech there is not a single concrete policy announcement on any of them.

BJ: I don't think that's true, I've given you on mental health, on housing supply, on the other issues you raised, there are considerable measures in this Queen's Speech intended to deal with those very burning injustices.

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