Boris Johnson is facing a series of difficulties including a Parliament which generally stands against his no-deal Brexit promise and dubious payments to an American businesswoman. Now sexual harassment allegations have been added to the mix.
In an article for the Sunday Times in the UK, columnist Charlotte Edwardes leveled the charge that Johnson, while editor at the Spectator, was at a meeting with two of his reporters, including Edwardes. During the meeting, at which wine was consumed, Johnson’s hand reportedly wandered down under her skirt and squeezed her thigh. According to her recollection, when she spoke of it to the other reporter, also young and female, they admitted and that it had happened to them, too.
The official response was that Johnson did not recall the incident. Edwardes followed that with a mild rebuke. She’s being attacked on social media for reporting on it.
The timing of her release has drawn the most attention. As with many other such allegations, the question becomes why she waited so long to come forward with the charge. With a no-deal Brexit effort anticipated in roughly one month and a likely new Ministerial election to be held, questions of Johnson’s character may be the difference between a win and a loss in some key seats.
A false political attack is therefore an entirely plausible explanation. It is also entirely reasonable to believe that because Johnson’s reputation on sexual issues has been damaged by recent events (derisive descriptions of female MPs, suspicion of payoffs and an improper relationship with an American businesswoman) Edwardes felt comfortable in finally releasing her tale.
By including the point of having a second journalist with a massaged thigh, she has invited investigation into Johnson’s activities while editor at The Spectator. If there are no journalists who corroborate her story, it will not prove he statement false but it will cast doubt on its veracity. If some come forward with similar statements it will likely be harmful to Johnson’s future as Prime Minister and damaging to Tory prospects in the next election.