British PM front-runner Boris Johnson questioned after apparent spat over spilled wine

The tiff apparently involved Boris Johnson, a former foreign secretary, spilling red wine on a couch in the home of his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, a public relations executive, according to the Guardian newspaper. PHOTO: EPA-EFE / TWITTER,CARRIESYMONDS
Johnson speaks to Conservative Party members in Birmingham, Britain. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON (WASHINGTON POST) - An apparent noisy spat over spilled wine involving the front-runner to become prime minister, Boris Johnson, brought police to the London residence Johnson shares with his partner.

The Metropolitan Police on Saturday (June 22) confirmed reports that they were called to a home in south-east London early on Friday.

A statement said "police attended and spoke to all occupants of the address, who were all safe and well."

The tiff apparently involved Johnson, a former foreign secretary, spilling red wine on a couch in the home of his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, 31, a public relations executive, according to the Guardian newspaper, which first reported the incident.

A neighbour called the police emergency number as the argument escalated. A recording of the call, obtained by the Guardian, purportedly includes Symonds telling Johnson "Get off me" and "Get out of my flat."

The authenticity of the tape could not be independently verified.

A voice that appears to be Johnson is heard refusing to leave the apartment, where Johnson is living as he goes through a divorce with his second wife. Johnson then tells Symonds to get off his laptop, the Guardian said.

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"You just don't care for anything because you're spoiled. You have no care for money or anything," Symonds said, according to the Guardian.

It is unclear whether the incident Johnson's could have any fallout on his bid to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May.

Johnson is seen as the favourite to be the next leader of the country and inherit the huge complications of Britain's exit from the European Union.

Some of Johnson's supporters have questioned the political motives of the neighbour and argued that politicians are entitled to their private lives.

Richard Barnes, a former Conservative Party politician who served as deputy mayor of London under Johnson, told BBC Newsnight: "I question the motives of the neighbours who stood there with a microphone pressed against the wall recording somebody's row... so concerned were they, they went to The Guardian."

The Guardian is a left-leaning British newspaper.

Allison Pearson, a columnist with the Daily Telegraph, told BBC Radio 4: "What business do we have to listen into a private lovers' tiff?"

James Cleverly, a Conservative lawmaker, tweeted: "The big element in the Boris story isn't that there was a heated argument, it's that the police were called. The police were called by the same person who recorded Boris and gave the story to the Guardian."

On Thursday evening, a few hours before the alleged altercation, Johnson topped the ballot in the Conservative Party leadership race, winning more than half of the votes.

Johnson is seen to be so far out ahead of his rival, Jeremy Hunt, that the biggest drama in the race is whether he'll somehow fumble his lead.

Over the next month, Johnson and Hunt, the current foreign secretary, will battle for the keys to 10 Downing Street. Their first runoff event in front of Conservative Party members takes place on Saturday afternoon.

Hunt tweeted "don't bottle it," on Saturday and attached a letter urging Johnson to take part in a series of televised debates so that the two finalists' plans, policies and character can be tested.

"Scrutiny can be uncomfortable," Hunt wrote.

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