10:24 GMT +320 September 2019
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    British Conservative Party Member of Parliament Boris Johnson speaks at a fringe event during the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre, in Birmingham, England, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018.

    Boris Johnson Slams Theresa May's Brexit Deal as 'Dead', Explains Silence on Girlfriend 'Row'

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    The leading Tory candidate to replace outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May announced earlier this month that he is determined to negotiate more favourable terms for the UK to leave the EU in case he assumes office.

    Speaking with the BBC, UK prime minister hopeful Boris Johnson said that would need to cooperate with the European Union to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland or steep trade tariffs in the event of a no-deal scenario.

    At the same time, he said that he did "not believe for a moment" that the UK would pull out without a deal, even though he was willing to do so.

    The bookies' favourite suggested that there were "abundant, abundant technical fixes" that could be made to avoid border checks and break the Irish backstop stalemate, but admitted that there's "no single magic bullet" to solve the pressing issue.

    Johnson said that the withdrawal deal negotiated by departing Prime Minister Theresa May that had been rejected three times by UK MPs is "dead". He, however, added that it was still possible to seal a new agreement with the bloc before the new deadline of 31 October. 

    "I think actually that politics has changed so much since 29 March. I think on both sides of the Channel there's a really different understanding of what is needed", he said, referring to the original Brexit deadline.

    The former London mayor insisted that if he was elected he would initiate a new round of talks with Brussels as soon as he reached No. 10 to discuss a free trade agreement. Johnson likewise suggested EU officials might change their stance on renegotiation because they have Brexit Party MEPs they do not want in the European Parliament.

    He also said that the EU want to get the £39 billion divorce payment, which he previously vowed to withhold unless the bloc agreed a better deal.

    While Johnson was open about his political plans, he remained tight-lipped about his private life when he was asked about widespread rumours that he had an explosive row with his girfriend Carrie Symonds over the weekend.

    "I do not talk about stuff involving my family, my loved ones. And there's a very good reason for that. That is that, if you do, you drag them into things that really is... not fair on them", he replied, adding that the public actually wants to know, "what is going on with his guy? Does he, when it comes to trust, when it comes to character, all those things, does he deliver what he says he's going to deliver?"

    The 55-year-old has faced much pressure from the public since reports emerged that his neighbour called police over an alleged loud dispute between Johnson and Symonds that purportedly included lots of smashing of objects and screaming.

    Johnson's interview came hours after his closest rival in the race for the keys to No. 10, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called him a "coward" for his decision not to appear on Channel 4's Tories leadership debates earlier in June.

    "Whether it's complacency or cowardice, it's not a good look for Boris to be ducking debates with me. Because if you want the job, you need to show up for the interview... So don't be a coward Boris - man up and show the country you can cope with the intense scrutiny the most difficult job in the country will involve", Hunt said.

    Johnson, however, challenged Hunt to a debate on Tuesday, 25 June.

    Following Theresa May's resignation announcement in May, at least 10 contenders launched bids to take her spot. Johnson and Hunt have secured their places as the final contenders for the Tory Leadership, making it through the MP votes and onto the members' ballot.

    In the final vote for MPs, Boris remained the frontrunner after gaining 162 votes, Hunt came second with 77 votes, while UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove was eliminated from the race with just 75 votes. 

    The new head of the Conservative Party will be chosen from the two remaining candidates through a postal ballot of the 160,000 party members on 22 July.

    Tags:
    EU, deal, leadership, Tory, Tories, UK Conservative Party, Conservative Party, prime minister, row, Brexit, UK, Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt, Boris Johnson
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