Boris Johnson - the talkRADIO interview
Boris Johnson met talkRADIO in his campaign office
Boris Johnson is the favourite to be the next Prime Minister at a time of turmoil and transition.
He spoke exclusively to talkRADIO's political editor Ross Kempsell in his campaign office.
Ross Kempsell: Mr. Johnson, thank you so much for joining us on talkRADIO. It's day one, you're in Downing Street. You've written those letters to the submarine commanders. What's next? What's the first thing you do?
Boris Johnson: Number one, Ross, we need to be increasing our spending on education around the country and lifting up the per capita spend. Number two, we want to have a big program of transport infrastructure. And I'm looking at all sorts of things we can do to help Andy Street in the West Midlands, Northern Powerhouse Rail, there's all sorts of things we can do to help with our roads. We need to be putting some money into the police and on Brexit. We will of course be pushing our plan into action. So we are getting ready to come out on October the 31st.
RK: Come what may?
BJ: Come what may.
RK: Do or die?
BJ: Do or die. Come what may.
RK: Plan A is to get an agreement that is better than the current one you've said and to get out on October 31st. Now, if that's blocked by Parliament, blocked by MPs, blocked by the European Union. What is Plan B?
BJ: First of all we need to get rid of this current withdrawal agreement and get the best bits in it, put them through Parliament and then we want to make sure that we keep that money suspended, and waiting to hand it over if we get the deal that we want. And then we want to make sure that we come up with the solutions for the Northern Irish border. And I think that the way to come out is with a standstill between the UK and the EU so that we keep going with the existing arrangements until such time as we've completed our free trade agreement and we use that period to solve the questions of the Northern Irish border. I think we can do that.
RK: You said yesterday positive energy would help.
BJ: I think a bit of positive energy would help, frankly. I've never seen such morosity and gloom from a government. For three years we've been sitting around wrapped in defeatism telling the British public that they can't do this or that. It is pathetic, it's absolutely pathetic.
RK: It's going to take more than positive energy. That's what your critics say. It's not just about bluster. It's not just about positive energy. What's plan B? What is plan B if it gets blocked?
BJ: Don't forget. We haven't even really wanted to come out. That's the whole, that's the, the heart of the problem. What we've been doing is we've been creating our own incarcerate, our in prison. The backstop, the customs union and the single market are all basically designed to keep us in. So plan B and C and D. Plan B, we get the deal we want the type I've described, Plan B is to get a standstill, the agreement GATT 24 paragraph 5B type agreement. If the EU won't do that and we have to come out on WTO terms then Plan C would be to get ready for that outcome. And obviously we're going to do that and it's very, very important that we do. And the British people have had enough of being told that they're incapable of getting ready to do this. Actually the preparations by March the 29th were pretty far advanced and they can be very far advanced by October 31st.
RK: Accept that's the plan. A, B and C, if they all go wrong Can you categorically rule out...
BJ: What is this defeatism, this is unbelievable.
RK: Can you categorically rule out an extension, a further extension, categorically rule it out?
BJ: Yes, let me tell you why. Okay. Because it would be up to the Prime Minister of the day. I hope myself, to decide under the current terms of the extension that we have, to apply for such an extension. And it is up to the EU to decide whether to grant it. At the moment, the law says that the UK is leaving the EU. International treaty law - says the UK is leaving the EU on the 31st of October.
RK: So no further extensions to Article 50? Okay. If you can't get changes that you want or the withdrawal agreement would something in the political declaration, like the timetable on the backstop, would that potentially be enough? Or is it gotta be the withdrawal agreement?
BJ: I think the withdrawal agreement itself as indeed Theresa May admitted in the House of Commons is defective and it's over.
RK: So it's got to be a change to the withdrawal agreement?
BJ: I mean more than a change. It's got to be, you know, we need a new Withdrawal Agreement. If we're going to go out on the basis of a withdrawal agreement at all.
RK: And if none of this happens, if it all goes wrong, will you commit your premiership on this, will you resign if you can't get us out on October the 31st?
BJ: I think that it follows from everything that I've said, that I think politics is at a crossroads in this country. And it is fundamental to trust in politics that we come out of the EU. We've had two delays now. My friends and colleagues in, in Parliament is, they've had a long time now to think about this.
RK: Let's move on from Brexit. Why would you be a better Prime Minister than Jeremy Hunt?
BJ: Well, I don't want to cast any aspersions on my opponent. All I would say is that I think I have three key merits: I fought for Brexit. I believe in it. Unlike any other candidate in this election, I can deliver it unlike any other candidate in this election. I can also formulate a great, one nation, modern conservative agenda and show how it can unite the whole country unlike any other candidate. And, you look at what we did in London and, uh, I believe that I'm the only candidate who can actually, uh, get ready in due course to defeat Jeremy Corbyn.
RK: Very quick stuff on your, on your, on your personal lifestyle. What do you do to relax? What do you do to switch off?
BJ: I like to paint. I make things.
RK: What do you make?
BJ: I make, I have a thing where I make models of... When I was mayor of London... I make, buses.
RK: You make models of busses?
BJ: I make models of busses.
RK: So they're going to be in Downing Street?
BJ: So what I do is well I don't make models of busses I get, I get old, um, wooden crates, right? And I paint them and they have two, it's a box that's been used to contain two wine bottles right? And it will have a dividing thing. And I turn it into a bus and I put passengers... you really want to know this?
RK: You're making buses, you're making cardboard buses. Okay. That's what you do to enjoy yourself.
BJ: No, I paint the passengers enjoying themselves.
RK: Okay, great.
BJ: On a wonderful bus. Low carbon of a kind that we brought to the streets of London that reduces CO2, reduces nitrous oxide, reducing pollution.
RK: If you weren't Boris Johnson, which other figure from history would you be?
BJ: I've always greatly admired Pericles of Athens because he was the guy who said, uh, that politics was about the many, not the few. He was the first to use exactly that... a great orator. And, uh, he, uh, it was said that he thundered and lightened when he spoke. But what he did is he used great infrastructure. He invested in fantastic infrastructure. Uh, he developed the, the, not just the Acropolis, but the Piraeus port which was integral to the success of a lot of Athens.
RK: What makes you angry? Do you get angry easily?
BJ: I'm a pretty, I, I think I'm a pretty, um, even tempered kind of guy. I don't easily get angry.
RK: What makes you happiest then when you're at your happiest as a man? When are you happiest?
BJ: Very good question. Um, I think, I think like all human beings, I probably feel happiest when I've accomplished something that I've worked very hard to do and that gives me so...
RK: Are you enjoying this campaign not being a submarine anymore?
BJ: I always enjoy, I always enjoy campaigns. Uh, I love, I love campaigning. Um, but what makes me, what makes me happiest, I think is, is, is the sense of completing a great task. And that is what we must do and I will not be happy and I will not rest until we get out of the EU on October the 31st. It is not the beginning of any great task but the continuing of the same until we be thoroughly finished that yieldeth the true glory.
RK: What was the last sports match you watched?
BJ: Um, oh God, I don't know. What was the last sports match I watched, blimey. Well, I suppose I must've watched some, I don't ever watch TV anymore.
RK: What was the last sport you played?
BJ: I play tennis quite a lot. It's nice. I play tennis quite a lot. I have been at the box at Wimbledon. I tell you what I watched a cricket match. I watched, I went to watch England against someone, unfortunately I fell asleep. That went badly.