Tory minister Liz Truss has been accused of “selling her soul” by defending Boris Johnson’s record in an excruciating interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today show.
Johnson has done just one newspaper interview and no major broadcast interviews during the Conservative leadership campaign, leading to accusations that he is hiding from the media.
Today host John Humphrys began the interview by commenting:
Boris Johnson is formally entering the Tory leadership race today and he’s with me in the studio… I joke, of course. He hasn’t done a single broadcast interview since Theresa May announced her departure...
He then went on to list Johnson’s alleged failures in his political and personal life, quoting articles that accused him of being “a habitual liar” and having “not the slightest moral compass”.
However, Truss bizarrely dismissed those criticisms by claiming they show "the huge public appeal [Johnson] has and the power he has to communicate”.
Humphrys’ also brought up Johnson’s conduct as foreign secretary with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian citizen who has been detained in Iran since April 2016.
In 2017, Johnson incorrectly said Zaghari-Ratcliffe “was simply teaching people journalism” in Iran, while her family has always maintained that she was on holiday.
His statement was cited as evidence against her in an Iranian court and she remains in jail there.
After stumbling over the pronunciation of Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s name, Truss tried to claim it was “apologists” for Iran who were blaming Johnson for her continued detention.
The interview, in which Truss failed to address many of Humphrys’ points, received an extremely negative response on social media - with some people comparing her to Trump press secretary Sarah Sanders...
And many commentators noted that it was "humiliating" for Truss to have to defend a record that Johnson himself has avoided commenting on.
Johnson is set to face questions from journalist at his campaign launch today, where he expected to be asked about his record as foreign secretary, his alleged drug use and his reputation as a dishonest politician.