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Boris bashes 'anti-Brexit' Beeb.

Byline: Jennifer McKiernan and Sam Blewett Reporters

BORIS Johnson has described the BBC as the "Brexit bashing corporation" at a Tory leadership hustings.

He also demanded the corporation continues to fund free TV licences for people aged over 75, despite bosses saying scrapping the perk is the best way to avoid cutbacks.

Speaking at the latest hustings in Carlisle, a Conservative member claimed the broadcaster is not independent on Brexit and asked what could be done about the licence fee as a result.

He said: "The BBC has been at the forefront of the assault on Brexit for some time - they no longer make any pretence of being independent and balanced, in my opinion."

Mr Johnson interjected to add "the Brexit bashing corporation", as he agreed. "Yes, absolutely," the member continued, adding: "So should something be done about the licence fee?" Mr Johnson claimed the BBC could afford to continue providing free TV licences if it cut the salaries of its star presenters.

He said: "What I will say is there has been a generous settlement, but because of all their highly-paid presenters they can't afford to look after the over-75s when it comes to their TV licences. Is the BBC here? Hi BBC, look after the over-75s please. Thank-you."

When asked why welfare policy should be passed on to the national broadcaster, Mr Johnson said: "They accepted that as part of the deal - they are not children - they knew what the agreement was and they should stick to it."

Mr Johnson insisted he can be trusted with 'the great Lady Britannia.'.

The Tory leadership candidate defended his "chequered private life" at the hustings.

Mr Johnson, who saw his support dip after police were called to his home by neighbours after a late-night row with his partner, was quizzed about his reliability by a Tory member.

"We know a lot of people have a worry about reliability with Boris and I think that's the Achilles' heel, with the chequered private life, can we trust you with the great lady Britannia?" the member asked.

The questioner added that the Conservatives' "perfect leader" would be an "amalgam" of Mr Johnson and his rival Jeremy Hunt.

Mr Johnson replied: "Don't look at what I say I do, look at what I do."

He pointed towards having "over delivered" on his promises as mayor of London, the 2012 Olympics and his record on action over the Skripal poisonings in Salisbury.

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| Boris Johnson at yesterday's hustings at Carlisle Racecourse

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Publication:Sunday Sun (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 30, 2019
Words:416
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