A brief history of Boris Johnson's trouble with buses

A brief history of Boris Johnson's trouble with buses
GMB’s viewer gives testimony about eating one meal a day and staying ...

Boris Johnson has a rather odd habit of getting himself in trouble with buses.

An innocuous form of public transport, they shouldn't be the prime minister's kryptonite, but it seems every time he comments on them or on a theme connected to them, he ends up in some sort of crisis.

He's made weird comments about painting model buses to relax, used real buses to make dodgy Brexit claims, and today he more than missed the point when told about a pensioner who rides buses all day to stay warm amid rising energy prices.

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So let's take a bus journey down memory lane and look at Johnson's odd history with buses.

Boasting about free bus passes in response to a pensioner facing a cost of living crisis

We've arrived at our first stop. In an interview with Good Morning Britain's Susanna Reid today, Johnson was told about a pensioner who rides buses all day so she doesn't have to pay to heat her home. Reid also told him that she is "losing weight" because she eats "one meal a day" and asked Johnson what else she should do to make ends meet.

Part of Johnson's response was truly bizarre. "Just to remind you, the 24-hour freedom bus pass was something that I actually introduced," he boasted.

"Marvellous so Elsie should be grateful to you for her bus pass," Reid quipped back before Johnson talked about tax rebates and government investment in energy.

It was a jaw-dropping moment and we can only sympathise with Johnson's PR team who will now surely be working overtime to clean up his mess.

Bus 'revolution' fails MOT

But he doesn't just say weird things about buses but has failures with his bus policies too. In February, the Guardian reported that Johnson's pledge to build 4,000 zero-emission buses wasn't making any progress.

Last year, announcing his bus strategy, Johnson said: “I love buses and I have never quite understood why so few governments before mine have felt the same way,” adding that “better buses will be one of our major acts of levelling up”, but the publication said industry leaders said they hadn't received any.

Meanwhile, in April, the Mirror reported that Johnson's promise of a £3 billion “bus revolution” outside London last year with the 'Bus Back Better' scheme wasn't going well with only a third of promised cash on the table and 30 per cent of services across the country in danger of disappearing.

Seems like he is stuck in traffic.

Backing terrible police advice to women

Our next stop takes us back to the prime minister's knack for making cack-handed comments. Serving police officer Wayne Couzens' sentencing for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard ignited a debate about women's safety and police failures last year. In response, the Metropolitan police issued bizarre advice suggesting, among other things, that women should flag down a passing bus if they are approached by a police officer they do not trust and Johnson backed it.

Speaking to Andrew Marr he said: “If you are suspicious about the way in which you are being treated by a police officer and you are worried for some reason, then clearly you should seek help in the way you have described."

People criticised him for his response:

Painting model buses to relax

On a lighter note, Johnson had perhaps one of his most strange bus moments in 2019, when he was the frontrunner to replace Theresa May as prime minister. Asked on Talk Radio about what he does to relax, Johnson replied: “I like to paint. Or I make things. I have a thing where I make models of buses. What I make is, I get old, I don’t know, wooden crates, and I paint them. It’s a box that’s been used to contain two wine bottles, right, and it will have a dividing thing. And I turn it into a bus.

“So I put passengers – I paint the passengers enjoying themselves on a wonderful bus – low carbon, of the kind that we brought to the streets of London, reducing C02, reducing nitrous oxide, reducing pollution.”

People thought it was very odd behaviour indeed and some people even thought he was trying to change search engine results to distract so that when people searched for phrases like 'Boris Johnson bus' they wouldn't see the following Brexit bus story...

Brexit bus promises

During the Brexit campaign, the Vote Leave campaign claimed Britain sends £350m a week to the EU and that if we left the bloc, we could spend that money on the NHS instead.

Johnson appeared by a campaign bus which was emblazoned with the slogan: "We send the EU £350 million a week - let's fund our NHS instead."

It was widely criticised because the sum didn't take account of the country's rebate of £75m a week and the head of the UK's statistics watchdog, Sir David Norgrove called it "a clear misuse of official statistics".

Nevertheless, Johnson defended the remarks.

What a journey. And if you think Johnson is the only Tory who struggles with forms of transportation, spare a thought for poor Neil Parish who was just trying to search for tractors when he stumbled across pornography...

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