Though Johnson appeared to be improvising his responses, all were questions he has been asked and answered before, and allowed him to deliver his new government’s practised talking points.
Before answering the first question Johnson said MPs were “all off on holiday” – in fact they are in parliamentary recess, but many are still working in their constituencies.
He then addressed “Luther from Cheshire”, who had posted what in parliament would have been called a Dorothy Dixer, asking how Britain could leave the EU “with no movement from the EU and still so much opposition in parliament”.
Johnson praised it as “the crucial question”.
“There’s a terrible kind of collaboration going on between people who think they can block Brexit in parliament and our European friends,” he said.
Johnson has demanded the EU renegotiate the Brexit withdrawal deal struck by his predecessor but rejected by parliament, ahead of an October 31 Brexit deadline.
But the EU were “sticking with every letter, with every comma of the Withdrawal Agreement [because] they still think Brexit can be blocked in parliament”, Johnson said.
“The longer that goes on the more likely it is that we will be forced to leave with a no-deal Brexit. That’s not what I want, that’s not what we’re aiming for, but we need our European friends to compromise.”
Johnson said he was confident that in the end EU leaders and British MPs would “see that it’s vital to get on and to do it”.
Johnson was also asked if he would call an election to prevent parliament blocking Brexit.
He did not answer directly, but said the British public “have had a lot of elections” in recent years and wanted the government “to get on and deliver Brexit on October 31”.
Johnson also answered questions on rural policies, mental health and knife crime in London – answering the latter, Johnson promoted a new law to back “stop and search” laws for police, saying the “most loving and kindest thing you can do to a young person” is take away their knife.
Finally he answered a question on his political heroes, citing Winston Churchill but also Pericles of Athens, whom he said was “one of the most powerful articulators of the idea of democracy”.
The online Q&A peaked at fewer than 8000 live viewers, but by the end of the afternoon the video had been watched more than 100,000 times.
It saw a mixed reaction, with many viewers praising Johnson in the comments, but others critical.
Johnson did not have time to answer requests such as: does he support autonomy for Wessex? Does he think Aston Villa should return to the Premier League? One man commented “you have my support to do anything to bring about Brexit, including arrests and bringing in the army”.
MPs reacted angrily to the suggestion they were collaborating with the EU, with Labour MP Mary Creagh calling it a “wicked lie” and Liberal Democrat Chuka Umunna calling the exercise “fatuous nonsense” designed to divert attention from the damage Johnson’s Brexit policy was doing to the country.
The European Commission, in a scheduled media briefing, said they were “available should the UK wish to hold talks” on Brexit, but added “the UK needs to explain its ideas” and should come up with “concrete proposals that are compatible with the withdrawal agreement”.
Nick Miller is Europe correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age