‘There’s nothing wrong with being woke,’ says Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during a tour of the manufacturing facility for the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine at Oxford Biomedica in Oxfordshire - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has declared “there’s nothing wrong with being woke”.

The prime minister was asked if he considered Biden to be woke – defined as being alert to societal injustices – after Labour's Lisa Nandy praised Joe Biden as a "woke guy" who is a possible model for electoral success for the Labour Party.

“I can’t comment on that. What I know is that he’s a firm believer in the transatlantic alliance and that’s a great thing,” the prime minister told reporters.

“There’s nothing wrong with being woke but what I can tell you is that I think it’s very, very important for everybody to … I certainly put myself in the category of people who believe that it’s important to stick up for your history, your traditions and your values, the things you believe in.”

Johnson’s embracement of the term woke may not be universally welcomed by some within the Conservative Party.

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At the weekend communities secretary Robert Jenrick decried “town hall militants and woke worthies” as he announced laws to protect monuments after the toppling of a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.

Johnson has also been perceived as being very un-woke, having used racial slurs such as “piccaninnies” and describing then-prime minister Tony Blair being met by “tribal warriors” with “watermelon smiles” on a trip to the Congo

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The prime minister once referred to gay men as “bum boys” and, in a 2018 newspaper column, described veiled Muslim women as “looking like letter boxes”.

His choice of language has also been raised as a potential grounds for friction with the incoming US administration.

Many were offended by his criticism of Barack Obama, who Biden served as vice-president to, as having an “ancestral dislike” of Britain because of his “part-Kenyan” heritage when the then-president came out in support of the Remain campaign.

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