UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been accused of sexually harassing him during a luncheon hosted by the then-editor of a magazine that weighed on the Conservative convention as Boris Johnson sought to unite his party over Brexit.
The journalist accuses the prime minister of having put his hand on her thigh during a private lunch 20 years ago.
Johnson does not comment at all on his private life, but his spokesman issued a clear denial, a recognition that the accusation more than rumors about his relations.
This follows accusations that Johnson granted a special permit to an American businesswoman believed to have had a relationship with him while he was mayor of London.
Johnson denies being responsible for any heinous behavior, but the issue could exacerbate his problems after his defeats in parliament and the courts over his promise to leave the EU on October 31 at all costs.
– strong men –
In an article in The Sunday Times, journalist Charlotte Edwards described a luncheon in which alcohol was served at Spectator’s offices about two decades ago, when Johnson was its editor.
“Under the table, I felt Johnson’s hand on my thighs and pulled it,” she wrote, sitting next to Johnson.
“He was moving his hand over my thigh and holding it firmly with his fingers, which made me suddenly upright in my sitting.”
She said that another woman I spoke to after the lunch was sitting on the other side of Johnson, telling her that the same thing happened with her.
At that time, Johnson was married to his second wife. They are currently divorced while living with his girlfriend Carrie Simmonds.
The Downing Street prime minister’s office said Edwards’ allegations were “incorrect”, while Johnson himself denied this in a television interview, declining to comment further.
However, Health Minister Matt Hancock said he knew Edwards well and was “fully confident of what she was saying.”
Conservative former minister Justin Greening, now an independent deputy, said the accusations were “of grave concern”.
She told the BBC that the accusations were “at the heart of the question of the qualities and integrity of public figures and the standards voters have the right to expect.”
The charges come two years after Defense Secretary Michael Fallon resigned following the disclosure of his attempt to kiss a journalist.
“What makes powerful men feel they have the right to harass women? Boris Johnson has to answer serious questions,” said opposition Labor Party MP Don Butler.
– Women’s activist –
But at the party convention in Manchester, many delegates expressed relief, while women from the Conservative Party expressed support for Johnson.
“He is a respectable person,” former defense minister Penny Mordaunt told a meeting on the sidelines of the conference. “I think he takes a lot of care for women and girls.”
Rep. Rachel McLean focused on Johnson’s campaign against female genital mutilation and called him a “women’s activist.”
Flour Butler, head of the Conservative Women’s Organization, told AFP the charges were due to a period when “the world was different.”
She said she did not know whether the accusation was true, but added: “It is very important for the party to say that we do not accept to continue this kind of behavior.”
– Brexit first.
Johnson is no stranger to personal scandals, the latest of which is a tumultuous row with his girlfriend Simmonds that led to police being called to their apartment in south London.
There are fears that recent accusations could damage Johnson’s standing among women, who are essentially unlikely to support him.
A YouGov study this week showed that 44 percent of men consider Johnson a popular figure, compared to 34 percent of women.
“I think it is a very big issue,” a 20-year-old Conservative member, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
“There are still a number of older members of the Conservative Party who do not treat women properly,” she said.
But for many in Manchester, the most important issue remains Brexit – and they see Johnson as the one who can do it no matter what else.
“We need someone to do the Brexit,” Conservative member Margaret Dean told AFP.
With regard to the accusation of Johnson to put his hand on the thigh of the journalist said “I rule it out.”
Others dismissed the charge as an attempt to offend the prime minister.
“This has to be considered … but I think people are immune to that,” said 48-year-old adviser Julian Godrich.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
OBSERVATORY NEWS — Breaking news source, real-time coverage of the world’s events, life, politics, business, finance, economy, markets, war and conflict zones.
Contact us: [email protected]
Stay connected with News Observatory and Observatory Newsroom, also with our online services and never lost the breaking news stories happening around the world.
We are NEWS OBSERVATORY — the only funding and support we get from people – we are categorically not funded by any political party, any government somewhere or from any grouping that supports certain interests – the only support that makes OBSERVATORY possible came from you.