Boris Johnson has refused to say how many children he has during a radio interview where he was confronted by a single mother over his demeaning remarks in an old column.
The prime minister has four children with his ex-wife Marina Wheeler and a daughter from an extra-marital affair, but he is also believed to have fathered another child outside of his marriage.
Mr Johnson is famously tight-lipped about his family – but he came under pressure to answer questions on his own children after an old magazine column emerged where he branded the children of single mothers “ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate”.
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Asked how many children he had on LBC, Mr Johnson said: “I love my children very much but they are not standing at this election.
“I’m not therefore going to comment on them.”
He added: “I am not going to put them onto the pitch in their election campaign when I think what people want to hear is what my plans are for the country, what this government is determined to do and how we are going to take this country forward.
“That is the way all parties should be judged.”
Asked if the country could expect the “pitter and patter of tiny feet” if he remains at No 10 with his partner Carrie Symonds, the prime minister replied: “I’m going to make the same point, I’m not going to get into discussions.”
The row centres on an article Mr Johnson wrote for The Spectator in 1995, in which he described the children of single mothers as “ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate”.
He said it was “outrageous” that married couples “should pay for ‘the single mothers’ desire to procreate independently of men”.
Mr Johnson was challenged on the remarks by Ruth, a single mother from Oldham, who said he was reluctant to talk about his own family.
He said: “Ruth, I want to say to you, I mean absolutely no disrespect to you or anybody.
“These are 25-year-old quotations culled from articles written I think before I was even in politics.”
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, who became a single parent at 16, condemned the prime minister for “appalling and hypocritical” comments about single mothers.
“From attacking single mothers working hard to raise their kids, to advocating sexual harassment in the workplace, Boris Johnson has demonstrated his contempt for women and working class people,” she said.
“Under the Conservatives we stand to lose the rights we have won over decades of struggle. He is not fit to be an MP, let alone prime minister.”