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Seven things we learned from Boris Johnson’s conference speech

The Prime Minister covered an array of topics during his speech in Manchester.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on stage giving his speech (Danny Lawson/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on stage giving his speech (Danny Lawson/PA)

By Shaun Connolly, PA Political Correspondent

Here are seven things we learned from Boris Johnson’s first speech to the Conservative Party conference as Prime Minister.

– Mr Johnson seemed to be signalling that if he does become the shortest serving Prime Minister in history after a snap general election in the next few weeks he wants a call from the I’m a Celebrity… producers rather than Strictly Come Dancing.

Boris Johnson speaking to John Bercow (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA)

With a swipe at John Bercow, the PM said: “If Parliament were a reality TV show the whole lot of us would have been voted out of the jungle by now.

“But, at least, we could have watched the Speaker being forced to eat a kangaroo testicle.”

– The music was striking.

Bryan Ferry’s Let’s Stick Together was played before and after he left the podium in Manchester.

The Who (Yui Mok/PA)

And the PM was ushered on stage by The Who’s sweeping Baba O’Riley which contains the rather grim lyrics: “Out here in the fields I fight for my meals. Teenage wasteland. They’re all wasted.”

– Could Mr Johnson have been thinking of the past drug use of Cabinet minister Michael Gove, who has at different times been a harsh rival and close ally, with his law and order reference?

Mr Gove’s Tory leadership campaign received a heavy hit when he admitted taking cocaine when he was a journalist in the 1990s.

Boris Johnson with Michael Gove (Andrew Parsons/PA)

The PM used his speech to strongly rail against feeding “the cocaine habits of the bourgeois”.

– He likes buses.

Mr Johnson outed himself as a “bus nut”.

Doubling down on the revelation he likes painting pictures of contented commuters on the side of old wine boxes, the PM said: “Yes, I admit I am a bit of bus nut.

Boris Johnson unveils a life-size mock-up of a bus (Lewis Whyld/PA)

“I confess I like to make and paint inexact models of buses with happy passengers inside.”

– Mr Johnson, who has lost every major Parliamentary vote since becoming PM, trash talked the Commons.

He said: “If Parliament were a laptop, then the screen would be showing the pizza wheel of doom.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a year four history class (Toby Melville/PA)

“If Parliament were a school, Ofsted would be shutting it down.”

– It all got a bit fishy.

In a speech heavy on attempted humour and light on actual content Mr Johnson went for laughs rather than outlining a legislative agenda.

Perhaps the weakest of the PM’s jokes involved his aim of “taking back control” the Scottish fishing industry, when he stated: “It is one of the many bizarre features of the SNP that in spite of being called names like Salmond and Sturgeon they are committed to handing back control of those fish to the EU.

Boris Johnson is given a fish during his visit to Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, Israel (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“We want to turbo-charge the Scottish fishing sector; they would allow Brussels to charge for our turbot.”

– Mr Johnson seemed to have misjudged the mood of his audience as he noticeably toned down his rhetoric on the EU.

The PM received a very muted response when he declared: “It cannot be stressed too much that this is not an anti-European party, and it is not an anti-European country.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Biarritz (Neil Hall/PA)

“We love Europe. We are European.”



From Belfast Telegraph