Boris Johnson British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's first day at the Conservative Party Conference was overshadowed by allegations of sexual misbehaviour, although he hoped for the launch of his campaign for the next general election.
Johnson sought to double down on his Brexit pledge, making the theme of the party convention: 'Get Brexit Done.'
After two months in charge of the UK government, Johnson was forced to deny he groped a journalist at a lunch around 20 years ago, and batted away allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a businesswoman and authorized taxpayer-funded sponsorship for her company during his time as London Mayor, reports Bloomberg.
Liz Truss, the minister for women and equalities, said she would "look at" an allegation by Charlotte Edwardes that Johnson touched her upper leg during lunch in the late 1990s.
Edwardes responded by tweeting: "If the Prime Minister doesn't recollect the incident then clearly I have a better memory than he does."
Edwardes claimed she was not the only woman to have her thigh grabbed during the meal, which took place when Johnson was the editor of The Spectator magazine.
The Sunday Times columnist's claims were given credence by Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, who told Channel 4 News: "I know Charlotte well and I entirely trust what she has to say."
Truss said that while she had not read the Sunday Times story, she would investigate. She agreed with Hancock that Johnson's private life should remain private.
Penny Mordaunt, the former defence secretary, sought to defend Johnson, telling a Tory conference fringe event: "I know that he is not the individual that he is quite often painted as being. I think occasionally he has the style of Frank Spencer in a china shop.
"But he is a decent person and I think he cares a great deal about women and girls."
Edwardes said another woman at the lunch claimed Johnson did the same thing to her.
The allegation came as the Prime Minister sought to play down questions relating to his conduct with Jennifer Arcuri, a US businesswoman when he was London mayor. He insisted he had "no interest to declare" relating to his dealings with the former model, 34.
The Sunday Times has reported that Arcuri confided in friends she was in a sexual relationship with Johnson at the time, although she has refused to comment on the newspaper's claims.
Appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Johnson was asked if he had declared an interest relating to his links with Arcuri.
He said: "Everything was done in accordance with the code ... and everything was done with full propriety."
Pressed again, he said: "There was no interest to declare."
Since the grassroots members propelled him to power in July after he promised to complete the UK's divorce from the European Union -- whatever the cost -- by the deadline of October 31, this was his first appearance as prime minister at the party's annual conference in Manchester, England.
The UK was due to leave the EU on March 29 but the failure of previous prime minister Theresa May to win backing for the divorce deal she negotiated forced her to seek to delay the country's departure twice before eventually she gave up and resigned.
When Johnson replaced her, he made it a key promise to deliver Brexit by October 31 and has said he will do so without a deal -- if necessary. Members of Parliament in London have moved to stop him carrying out this threat and are also denying him the election he says is the only way to break the deadlock.
The opposition wants the risk of an economically damaging no-deal Brexit to be removed before they agree to dissolve Parliament for an election.
On Sunday evening Johnson's office took the unusual step of flatly denying one claim, that around 20 years ago he inappropriately touched the leg of a junior journalist working on the magazine he was then editing. On another claim about his private life, the denial was more circumspect.
The Sunday Times reported last week that when he was London Mayor, Johnson had overruled officials to get tech entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri onto trade missions, and that her company had received government sponsorship grants. The paper this week reported that Arcuri had told four friends that she'd had a sexual relationship with Johnson.
Johnson's office declined to comment on the nature of his relationship with Arcuri, and the prime minister insisted there had been no impropriety. "I am very, very proud of everything we did and everything I did as mayor of London," he told the BBC. Asked if he had declared his links with Arcuri in the register of interests, he replied: "There was no interest to declare."
The Greater London Authority's monitoring officer has referred the prime minister to the Independent Office of Police Conduct -- which oversees the conduct of the mayor.
For years, many observers had assumed that Johnson's private life would be a bar to his ambition of becoming prime minister. He was unfaithful to his second wife, from whom he finally separated last year. He is attending conference with his new partner, Carrie Symonds.
In the end, Conservative Party members decided his commitment to Brexit and his appeal to voters were more important. His biographer, Andrew Gimson, said Johnson would likely be able to brush off the Arcuri allegations, too.
"Voters will say that this is a man trying to do something difficult and necessary in Brexit, and that it's mean-minded of people to try and bring him down,' Gimson said. 'The big issue is Brexit."