Boris Johnson criticised for avoiding people of colour when shaking hands at conference

PUBLISHED: 10:36 03 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:49 03 October 2019

Boris Johnson passes by two black Tory activists. Photograph: BBC.

Boris Johnson passes by two black Tory activists. Photograph: BBC.

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It appeared more eyes were on Boris Johnson's behaviour off the stage rather than on it, as television viewers commented on how he interacted with the party faithful after his big conference speech.

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Stanley Johnson awaits a hug from his son. Photograph: BBC.Stanley Johnson awaits a hug from his son. Photograph: BBC.

The first awkward moment to get Twiter talking was when his father Stanley Johnson opened his arms in readiness to embrace his son after the speech.

But rather than give his own dad a hug, the prime minister gripped his hand, much to a look of disappointment of his father.

A second incident sparked a debate after a Twitter user pointed out Johnson appeared to put his hand out for all of those supporters that followed his father in the same row - with the exception of the people of colour.

One tweeted: "So apparently Boris Johnson doesn't like shaking the hands of black men. Good job he hasn't said anything inflammatory in the past, or people might think he's a racist. Oh, hang on..."

An awkward exchange between Andrea Leadsom and Boris Johnson. Photograph: Sky.An awkward exchange between Andrea Leadsom and Boris Johnson. Photograph: Sky.

"Wow that's so blatant," wrote Mina Hussain, in reply to a clip posted by a critic of the PM.

Martin Chainani tweeted: "Oh dear, @BorisJohnson. You are not putting yourself in a good light at all. However those who deny and those who know what you are won't change so I guess you'll get away with it."

Another Labour supporter wrote: "Imagine the uproar if this was @jeremycorbyn!"

But others leapt to the defence of the prime minister - pointing out the people who he didn't shake hands with did not hold their hands out.

Mike Spudgun wrote: "This is a shameless, pathetic attempt to portray #BorisJohnson as a racist. He shook the hand of EVERY person who offered him theirs. Period. The two black gentleman elected not to offer their hands."

David Woodhouse said: "It does look like he shook the hand of everyone who actually held their hands out to him, regardless of skin colour."

Geoff Latham tweeted: "Whatever anyone thinks of Boris those two blokes were obviously clapping enthusiastically and didn't give any indication of stopping their applause for a handshake."

In a third incident, picked up by newspapers and broadcasters before the speech, showed the prime minister accidentally kissing cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom on the lips rather than on the cheek, after the pair turned their heads in different directions.

The New European has asked the Conservatives for comment.

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