LONDON — Boris Johnson once penned an article describing the children of single mothers as “ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate.” Those words came back to haunt him this week, prompting fresh backlash in the run-up to Britain’s Dec. 12 election and calling into question Johnson’s own personal life and family relationships.

But just how many children does the prime minister have? Johnson doesn’t want to say.

Appearing on British radio station LBC on Friday, Johnson was confronted by an angry listener who had called the show to reference his 1995 article for the Spectator. The caller, identified as “Ruth,” told the prime minister, “I don’t appreciate what you’ve said about single mothers,” before adding, “Why are you happy to criticize people like me when you refuse to discuss your family?”

Johnson, who has been married twice, has four children — two daughters and two sons — with his second wife, Marina Wheeler, who he separated from in 2018. Rumors have long swirled in Britain that Johnson has a fifth child, a daughter, from an affair. Johnson’s personal life has often hit the headlines in Britain, with the 55-year-old frequently being accused of adultery during his 25-year marriage. “Boris Johnson booted out by wife Marina after she accused him of cheating AGAIN,” wrote the Sun in September 2018.

Johnson has also been accused of having an affair with American business executive Jennifer Arcuri, who recently divulged on national television that Johnson had told her he did, indeed, have five children.

Video from Friday’s interview quickly began circulating on social media, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sharing the clip and writing: “This is what holding Boris Johnson to account looks like.”

Johnson frowned and sighed heavily before attempting to defend his past writing: “These are 25-year-old quotations culled from articles written I think before I was even in politics,” he said.

“I mean absolutely no disrespect to you,” he told the caller, who went on to describe how Johnson’s comments had impacted the lives of children. “My children suffered the stigma attached to the comments Mr. Johnson made at the time,” she said.

“I love my children very much, but they are not standing at this election. I’m not therefore going to comment on them,” Johnson said in the interview. “I am not going to put them onto the pitch.”

When asked whether he was thinking of having more children with his current girlfriend, 31-year-old Carrie Symonds, who moved into Downing Street in the summer, Johnson said, “I’m not going to get into discussions.”

In June, police were called to an address in southeastern London after an alleged altercation between the two. Symonds was reportedly heard by neighbors shouting, “Get off me” and “get out of my flat” during the incident.