Johnson ducked repeated questions during a leadership hustings in Birmingham the day before. Questioned by journalist and CNN Talk host Iain Dale, he said: “I don’t think they want hear about that kind of thing,” prompting applause from party members. “I think what they want to hear is what my plans are for the country and the party.”
But former Conservative Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind told the BBC: “If you are a candidate to be prime minister and the police have been called to your house — fairly or unfairly — the fact is there was a police visit. You don’t just say ‘no comment.’
Rifkind, who hinted he might back Johnson’s rival Jeremy Hunt in the race to be the next Conservative leader, and by extension the next PM, added: “It was a lack of judgement to refuse to even make a short comment. All he could have said, quite reasonably, would have been that in all relationships there are occasionally outbursts of anger and disagreement.”
The opposition Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer tweeted the Guardian’s initial story about the alleged dispute with the comment, “Was there ever a man less suited to be Prime Minister?”
In the town hall event in Birmingham, Johnson was asked at least four variations of the question by Dale, who finally suggested Johnson was simply not going to answer the question.
“I think that’s pretty obvious,” the former foreign secretary and leading Brexiteer said.
Johnson’s office was not answering calls on Saturday. His campaign did not immediately answer an email from CNN.
The Guardian reported late Friday that a neighbor of Johnson’s girlfriend Carrie Symonds had heard an argument from her apartment, knocked on the door, got no response, and called the police.
The neighbor, who reportedly recorded the altercation, told the Guardian that Symonds could be heard telling Johnson “get off me” and “get out of my flat.”
In the recording, Symonds said Johnson had ruined her sofa with red wine. “You just don’t care for anything because you’re spoilt. You have no care for money or anything,” she said according to the Guardian.
Johnson was also heard saying “get off my f***ing laptop” before a loud crashing noise, the paper reported.
The Metropolitan Police issued a statement confirming that a “caller was concerned for the welfare of a female neighbour.”
The police arrived and “spoke to all occupants of the address, who were all safe and well,” adding: “There were no offences or concerns apparent to the officers and there was no cause for police action.”
But they did not name Johnson or Symonds as being involved in the incident.
Symonds has not made a public comment about the incident, which is reported to have happened in the early hours on Friday.
The story has shaken up the race to be next Conservative leader, and has led most British Newspapers. Some of Johnson’s backers tried to play the story down. Iain Duncan Smith, a former Conservative Party leader, told CNN: “This is a private matter.”
And Security Minister Ben Wallace, who nominated Johnson to be Conservative Party leader, was dismissive of the Guardian newspaper report in a tweet.
“What a non story ‘couple have row.’ Lefty neighbours give recording to Guardian. Newspaper reaches new low is a better news story,” Wallace tweeted at Sun journalist Tom Newton-Dunn. Wallace deleted the tweet eight minutes after posting it, but it was archived by the Twitter feed Tweets MPs Delete.
Johnson took part in the leadership hustings with his rival for the party leadership, Jeremy Hunt. The 160,000 Conservatives are preparing to vote for their favored candidate, with the winner due to be announced next month.
Hunt replaced Johnson as Foreign Secretary after Johnson resigned in protest at UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan.
Until this weekend’s story broke, Johnson was the favorite to win the leadership race, pitching himself as the only man to take the UK out of the European Union on October 31. Hunt has said he would also support a no deal exit if necessary.