'You're playing games!' Heckler ruins Boris Johnson's charm offensive in the north of England

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By Jez Fielder  with Reuters
'You're playing games!' Heckler ruins Boris Johnson's charm offensive in the north of England

A warm handshake, but a cold Yorkshire request to leave.

Boris Johnson got a taste of just how deeply his Brexit strategy has split public opinion in Britain on Thursday.

After having been invited to 'please leave my town' by a passer-by, he was then harangued by a man for "playing games", while others cheered the prime minister, demanding that he be allowed to respond.

Johnson, who is pushing for a snap election, was speaking to a BBC television crew in the northern city of Leeds on Thursday when a man pushing a child in a stroller interrupted the interview.

"You're playing games with Parliament. You're playing games with the public," the man shouted at Johnson. "You should be in Brussels negotiating. Where's the negotiation going on? Where is it? You're in Morley, in Leeds. You should be in Brussels."

Johnson was initially unable to respond before challenging the man - who spoke with an Irish accent - when he said the government's negotiations with the European Union about a new Brexit deal were going nowhere.

"Actually that's not true at all. We are on the verge of getting a deal," Johnson said before repeating his criticism of the opposition Labour Party for not agreeing immediately to his demand for an early election.

A crowd gathered and some people began to argue with Johnson's challenger.

Johnson turned to the onlookers and said: "Can I just ask people here: do you think we should get out on October 31st?"

Some people shouted: "Yes!" and cheered, while others seemed to disagree. Johnson got another mixed response when he asked the crowd if he thought Labour's leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was standing in the way of Brexit.

One woman shouted: "Get rid of him!"

Johnson retorted: "well, I agree with that."

Video editor • Thomas Duthois