Boris Johnson pours cold water on England's World Cup hopes

PUBLISHED: 15:31 26 June 2018 | UPDATED: 15:31 26 June 2018

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson


Boris Johnson has poured cold water on England's World Cup chances, telling fans "not to let their hopes get away with them".

The foreign secretary and Brexiteer-in-chief was criticised after downplaying Gareth Southgate's side's chances following their record 6-1 win over Panama at the weekend.

Mr Johnson, already facing attacks over his no-show at the Heathrow vote yesterday, was taking Foreign Office questions in the Commons when Conservative MP Scott Mann (North Cornwall) said: "Clearly football is coming home and England are making excellent progress in the World Cup.

"What advice has the Foreign Office got to England fans that might be thinking about travelling to Russia in the next few weeks?"

Mr Johnson replied: "My strong advice is to look at our Be on the Ball website to follow Foreign Office advice and not to let their hopes get away with them."

It comes months after Mr Southgate said he had “little interest” in Mr Johnson’s views on the World Cup in Russia after the foreign secretary floated the idea of boycotting it, comparing the event to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Mr Southgate said at the time: "It’s of little interest to me what the foreign secretary thinks about it."

Labour MP Virendra Sharma MP, a champion of the anti-Brexit Best for Britain campaign, said: "Having not had the balls to stay in the country for the Heathrow vote, Boris has now reappeared to pour cold water over England's chances at the World Cup.

"This stuff is ripe for a sketch. The man who represents this country on the world stage and who opportunistically criticises others for not backing Britain on Brexit, no longer thinks the country is good enough after a 6-1 win.

"You're not a pundit Boris. I'd say stick to the day job, but you don't even do that these days."

In the same session today, Tory MP Mary Robinson (Cheadle) claimed the UK could seek "speedy" free trade arrangements with other Commonwealth nations after Brexit, telling MPs the Australia-US free trade agreement was negotiated within little more than a year.

She added: "In the spirit of Commonwealth friendship, would he mind wishing the Socceroos [Australia's national football team] every success in their game tonight?"

Mr Johnson replied: "I've been warned by my honourable friend that the Socceroos are playing Peru.

"I've just been to Peru and I wouldn't want to forfeit any friendship I may have acquired on that mission.

"I wish both sides well in that encounter."

It comes after a rough few days for the ardent Brexiteer. A vocal opponent of Heathrow expansion, he yesterday sparked derision after he missed the vote on it to be in Afghanistan, despite previously vowing to lie down in front of bulldozers to prevent the controversial project.

Critics pointed out he had hosted Abdullah Abdullah, the Afghan chief executive, in London less than three weeks ago, suggesting he had looked for somewhere to be in order to miss the vote.

And at the weekend it was reported that he had dismissed the concerns of business over Brexit by saying “f*** business” to an ambassador.

Playing in a charity football match in 2006, Mr Johnson used his ample bulk to floor Germany's Maurizio Gaudino in a rugby-style tackle.

England play Belgium in their final group stage game on Thursday.

You've seen the news, now discover the story

The New European is committed to providing in-depth analysis of the Brexit process, its implications and progress as well as celebrating European life.

Try 13 weeks for £13

Support The New European's vital role as a voice for the 48%

The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

  • Become a friend of The New European for a contribution of £48. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish)
  • Become a partner of The New European for a contribution of £240. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook
  • Become a patron of The New European for a contribution of £480. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook and an A3 print of The New European front cover of your choice, signed by Editor Matt Kelly

By proceeding, you agree to the New Europeans supporters club Terms & Conditions which can be found here.

Supporter Options

Mention Me in The New European

If Yes, Name to appear in The New European

Latest Articles


Grassroots anti-Brexit campaigners are increasing the pressure on politicians ahead of a series of important votes this year. Here is a list of the events organised across Britain in the coming weeks and months.


Newsletter Sign Up

The New European weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy