The sunny weather off the coast of Cornwall wasn’t the only heat Boris Johnson was facing on Saturday, as the prime minister dealt with a tough grilling from Channel 4 News’ Gary Gibbon.
As day two of G7 summit got underway, Johnson was quizzed about his relationship with former US president Donald Trump and the Northern Ireland protocol which governs the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
BBC News claims that current president Joe Biden reportedly raised concerns over the protocol during the summit, arguing that it could threaten the peace process secured by the Good Friday Agreement.
In the Channel 4 interview, Gibbon said: “The West has sort of been in retreat, people have said, for a while. Then there’s been the Trump years, which some people in that room think you were part of. ‘You were his closest buddy’, they thought.”
As Johnson attempted to answer, the broadcaster’s political editor continued: “What’s the truth? Were you his best buddy? President Biden thought you were his clone!”
..President Biden thought you were Trump's clone
..The EU say you don't keep your word
#C4News Gary Gibbon interv… https://t.co/9LosXzw7pj
Floundering, the prime minister replied: “The job of the prime minister of the United States [is] to have a good relationship with whoever ... The prime minister of the United Kingdom has a good relationship with whoever is president of the United States.”
Gibbon agreed, saying “of course”, but challenged him further: “They thought you went much further than the others and also that you’re not a supporter of the rules-based system which is at the heart of the West.
“The EU leaders don’t think you’re part of the rules-based system. They think you’ll rip up agreements that you’ve signed.”
Although it is not one of the seven countries which make up the G7 (that’s the UK, US, Canada, Japan, Germany, France and Italy), the European Union has been invited to the summits for decades, with European Council and European Commission presidents Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen representing the bloc on this occasion.
“If you’re talking about the Northern Ireland protocol, what you’ve got is something that is... It’s stated abundantly in the text of protocol [that] it should be implemented in such a way as to ensure free trade and free movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland for all parts of the UK and it’s not working like that at the moment.
“We need to make sure that it’s applied in a sensible way and we’re doing the sensible thing to protect the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom,” Johnson responded.
In one final grilling shown in the clip, Gibbon said: “People who were in the last government with Theresa May, those people who were part of the negotiations, and all the EU leaders say all these consequences of the deal you signed were absolutely laid out very clearly, black and white, repeated again and again, over years.
“They wonder whether you secretly intended to rip this thing up all the time, saying it was all laid out beforehand, couldn’t have been clearer. There were years of negotiations ... which came as a total surprise to you with these checks ... They say you don’t keep your word.”
“We’re going to sort it out and if we can’t sort it out then we will do what is necessary,” Johnson responded.
It’s clear Johnson was ruffled by the interrogation, as he can be heard asking “how much more of this” at the very end of the interview.
Gibbon’s razor-sharp questioning has since received praise online, with some asking for more rigourous grilling of the prime minister:
@ukiswitheu Well done #GaryGibbon @Channel4News. You spoke truth to power showing Johnson up for what he is. Better… https://t.co/roFaKQGo9Q