20 of the most bizarre things that Boris Johnson said during his Tory conference speech

Greg EvansJoanna Taylor
Tuesday 06 October 2020 11:30
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Tuesday afternoon saw Boris Johnson deliver just his second Conservative party conference speech as prime minister and 12 months ago he probably never envisioned that he would be doing it in front of nobody at all.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to be a major issue concerning the UK and the rest of the world, Johnson was forced to deliver in speech virtually in a room all by himself, which is somehow emblematic of 2020 as a whole.

Although he didn't have the audience or fanfare that usually cheers him on, Johnson was still able to muster the same balderdash and nonsensical phrases that he has become famous for and covered everything from the pandemic to crime and green energy to his own weight.

He began by thanking Tory campaigners for the efforts in helping the government win last December's election, by 'putting leaflets into the jaws of dogs' and saving the UK of socialism, a clear pop at Jeremy Corbyn.

I want to begin by thanking you for everything that you did at the election. Pounding the streets in the middle of winter, prodding leaflets through the letter box and into the jaws of dogs to save this country from socialism and win this party the biggest election victory in a generation.

Johnson the addressed the elephant in the room and the fact that he was on his own and not in the usual Tory conference location of Birmingham and also seemed to regret not being heckled, which seems odd, before adding that he has had enough of Covid-19.

Alas, there is no one to clap or heckle. I don't know about you but I have had enough of this disease which attacks not only human beings but so many of the greatest things about this country. Our pubs, our clubs, our football, our theatre and all the gossipy gregariousness and love of human contact that drives the creativity of our economy.

Johnson, who might have watched Independence Day the night before, then claims that the UK has "seen off every alien invader for the last thousand years."

He continued to say that the UK would defeat the virus by following the guidelines and telling his comrades:

The next time we meet it will be face-to-face and cheek by jowl and we're working for the day when life will be back to normal. Flying in a plane will be back to normal and hairdressers won't look like they are handling radioactive isotopes and when we can go and see our loved ones in care homes and when we no longer have to greet each other by touching elbows, as in some giant national version of the birdy dance.

Johnson then paid tribute to the efforts that people have made to stop the virus and those that have been most affected but poured scorn on suggestions that his own fight against coronavirus caused him to lose his 'mojo.' The PM then proceeded to list off his athletic abilities and appeared to challenge anyone to a series of wrestling contests.

I’ve heard a lot of nonsense recently about how my own bout of COVID has somehow robbed me of my mojo. Of course this is self-evident drivel. The kind of propaganda you expect from people who don't want this government to succeed. Who wanted to stop us from delivering Brexit and all our other manifesto pledges. I can tell you no power on Earth was or is going to do that. I could refute these critics of my athletic abilities in any way they want. Arm-wrestling, leg-wrestling, Cumberland wrestling, sprint-off, you name it.

Johnson then goes on to openly admit that his struggles with Covid was because he was "too fat" before quoting M People.

The reason I had such a struggle with the disease is that although I was superficially in the peak of health when I caught it I had a common underlining condition. My friends, I was too fat and I've since lost 26 lbs, you can imagine that in bags of sugar and I'm going to continue that becuase you've gotta search for the hero inside yourself and hope that person is considerably slimmer.

He then turned back the clocks and invoked that Blitz-spirit the UK is obsessed with in order to lay out how he plans to ignite the nation's economic recovery.

In the depths of the Second World War, when just about everything had gone wrong, the government sketched out a vision of the post-war new Jerusalem that they wanted to build, and that is what we’re doing now, in the teeth of this pandemic.

He then talked about a 'cosmic spanner' which is definitely not something from Doctor Who, which inspired a few jokes.

He then laid out his plans to build 48 new hospitals by 2030 but has only started work on eight and how many nurses have been recruited under the new government.

Johnson then used this to segue to talking about how they planning to fight crime. He highlighted how many new police officers are on the streets now but calls for 'results' and then agreed with home secretary Priti Patel, by saying that he is aiming to prevent "the criminal justice system from being hamstrung by lefty human rights lawyers and other do-gooders."

Johnson then promoted the Tories new education funding initiative and claimed that it was something that had 'intimidated government for the last century.'

We grasped a nettle that has intimidated governments for the last century. We broke down the senseless barrier between further education and higher education so that its just as easy to get a training course in engineering or IT as for a degree in politics because we are offering every adult four years funding in education.

The PM then started to talk about wind turbine production and the green economy, something which the UK has decided to become the 'world leader in low-cost green power generation' and that offshore wind will soon be powering every home in the UK. Apparently, the UK is going to become 'the Saudi Arabia of wind.'

He also sneered at old remarks made by himself about wind power not being able to 'pull the skin off of a rice pudding.'

Johnson then takes a swipe at Labour telling them that 'Uncle Sugar' aka the taxpayer won't pay for everything.

I have a simple message for all those on the left of the Labour Party who think everything can be funded by 'Uncle Sugar, the taxpayer. It isn't the State that produces the new drugs and therapies we are now using.

It isn't the State that will hold the intellectual property of the vaccine, if and when we get one, it wasn't the State that made the gowns and the masks and the ventilators that we needed at such speed. It was the private sector with its rational interest in innovation and competition and market share and - yes - sales.

The PM then goes on to talk about the housing market and seems to have some grand ideas about how young people were working during lockdown.

During lockdown, there were millions of students who found themselves locked down in rented accommodation, without private space, without a garden, forced to used ironing boards for desks and bedrooms for offices.

He then complained about young people not being able to afford a home where they can't "add a knob or a knocker to the front door and in some cases, they can't even hang a picture."

He then pivoted back to Labour and literally accused them of wanting to pull statues down and clear reference to the Black Lives Matter protests we saw over the summer, adding that the Tories are proud of British history, which includes things such as slave trading.

We’re proud of this country’s culture, history and traditions. They literally want to pull statues down, to rewrite the history of our country, to edit our national CV to make it look more politically correct.

Johnson continued on the recent reassessment of Britain's history and touched on the controversy of singing 'Rule Britannia' at The Proms, adding that he was not embarrassed to sing the song.

We aren’t embarrassed about songs about how Britannia rules the waves. In fact, we are making sense of it with a Conservative national shipbuilding strategy.

He continued to lambast Labour and even took aim at the SNP who he claimed are trying to 'tear our country apart.'

Johnson then criticised Keir Starmer with his new favourite nickname for the Labour leader 'Captain Hindsight' and "his regiment of potshot, snipeshot fusiliers." Seriously, who talks like this?

Johnson concluded his speech by saying that Brexit will make Britain a more cosmopolitan nation and it will see people of all walks of life welcomed with open arms. Which given the anti-immigrant forces the 2016 vote has emboldened feels... like a bit of a reach.

With that Boris Johnson's 2020 Tory conference speech was in the books.

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