Boris Johnson was treated to a rousing ovation from the core of his supporters at the Conservative party conference – but outside of his safe space the commentary was quite different. Here’s five moments that got people talking.
He wants to see John Bercow eat a kangaroo’s testicle
The surprising imagery got a cheer and a laugh but came as part of the Tory party’s steady drip-drip of sowing mistrust in the UK’s parliament and judiciary.
As a reminder, the reality of Johnson’s problems with parliament and the judiciary is that he does not have a majority in the first and he was found to have acted unlawfully by the second.
But according to Johnson, the nation’s problem is with those institutions, and he used an array of amusing comparisons to make his point.
“If parliament were a laptop then the screen would be showing the pizza wheel of doom,” he said.
“If parliament were a school Ofsted would be shutting it down of putting it in special measures.
“If parliament were a reality TV show then the whole lot of us would have been voted out of the jungle by now.
“But at least we would have had the consolation of seeing the speaker being forced to eat a kangaroo testicle.”
Johnson also managed to make an underhand dig at the Supreme Court verdict which found he had acted unlawfully in proroguing parliament, saying that we are in an “age of creative litigation”.
The Tories have “tackled” the nation’s debt and the deficit
UK debt as a percentage of GDP roughly doubled between 2006 and 2011 and has more or less stayed at that 20-year peak since then.
“Tackled” is an excellent choice of words for someone who can’t actually claim the debt has been cleared up.
“So many reasons to be confident about our country and its direction,” said Johnson after claiming that the country has the fastest-rising wages in ten years (fact check: wages have fallen in real terms).
He said his mother voted Leave – to the surprise of his dad
Boris Johnson’s father was seen to mouth “I didn’t know that” from the audience as his son told the world that his mother had voted to Leave.
The anecdote came as part of a homily about what Johnson learned from his mother, which was about the inherent equality of all people.
It is likely to please a great deal of middle ground Conservative Leavers who sincerely feel the same way.
Since the claim was made, Johnson’s Remain-supporting sister and erstwhile The New European columnist Rachel confirmed it’s true in a tweet – which saves us from putting it on the ever-growing Johnson ‘fact check’ pile.
‘The Tories are the party of the NHS’
The statement that is most likely to trigger outrage from Labour, which founded the NHS, was Johnson saying: “It’s time for us to say loud and clear: we are the party of the NHS.”
Interesting claim from a government whose ever-tightening immigration policy is ordering doctors to leave the country.
Johnson’s reasoning for this gobsmacking overreach was that “One Nation Conservativism … will deliver the economic growth that makes those investments possible”.
Aside from the obvious ten-year disembowelling of the NHS performed by the Tories, it’s a particularly embarrassing claim to try to make when even Johnson’s baby steps towards refunding the health service have been comprehensively fact-checked. Labour Twitter is out in force over this one.
Remainers want to be done with Brexit
Oh yes we do – but not the way he put it.
“What people want; what Leavers want; what Remainers want; what the whole world wants – is to be calmly and sensibly done with the subject, and to move on,” said Johnson. We’ve never heard of a better argument to revoke Article 50 in all our lives.