Boris Johnson sinks beneath his own wishy-washiness in radio interview disaster

Boris Johnson in one of his more sane moments.

Do you enjoy a breakfast waffle? If you were listening to Radio 4’s Today programme, you got one whether you wanted it or not – from that master of baffled-gab, Boris Johnson.

In 20 minutes, he managed to reverse his ‘go whistle’ position on paying to exit the EU, back-stabbed his boss Theresa May (with a side-swipe, which makes it seem more impressive than it was), and demonstrated that he both supports and opposes Donald Trump – at the same time.

Let’s start with Brexit because he got into a real pickle over it. You will recall that he said, in Parliament, that the EU’s proposed bill for the UK to leave the political bloc were “extortionate” and that it could “go whistle”.

Today anchor Mishal Husein asked, what did he mean when he said the EU could “go whistle” over the Brexit bill?

“I was being asked about some very large sums of money… that the EU suggested we were on the hook for, and that’s not a number I recognised…” he began stumblingly (and inaccurately).

“Of course we will meet our obligations. We are law-abiding, bill-paying people. The UK has contributed hundreds of billions over the years.”

Oh! So he’s happy to pay?

“I’m not saying I accept Mr Barnier’s interpretation of what our obligations are, but we will meet our obligations as we understand them.”

He wouldn’t say how much he was prepared to pay before the sum became “extortionate”, adding: “I’m not going to get into a financial haggle…”

“Can they ‘go whistle’ if it’s more than £30 billion?” asked Ms Husein, obviously enjoying his discomfort.

And he collapsed. His response was waffle about getting “the best possible value for the UK taxpayer”.

Then he seemed to realise what he had done, because he claimed that he would give an absolutely precise answer. Here it is: “We should pay not a penny more, not a penny less, of what we think our legal obligations amount to.” Waffle.

And on the possibility of a two-to-three-year transition period, he started with more waffle about the government’s position. Pressed on what he thinks, he said: “There are several transition periods that are envisioned.” More waffle.

He went on to waffle that the UK would be “getting out with confidence and determination and doing it in a timely, orderly and effective manner”.

“What business would want us to achieve is speed and efficiency,” he added, with the relish of a man who had reached the end of his pre-scripted lines.

“The crucial thing is certainty,” he said, oblivious of the irony in the fact that he wasn’t offering any.


If that amount of waffle is making your stomach turn over, let’s consider something else:

The backstabbing side-swipe against Theresa May came during a discussion of the political situation in Libya, where an intervention supported by the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition government of 2010-15 left the country with two rival parliaments and four governments (according to the Telegraph).

Calling for unity, he said: “Politicians… need to suppress their own selfish interests, compromise for the good of the country.”

The Torygraph took this as a message for Theresa May, telling us he was saying her “disastrous” decision to call a snap election “shows the risk of going to the polls too early”.

Twitter commentators pointed out that the comment could be applied equally to Mr Johnson himself, who campaigned for Brexit in the belief that his political career would benefit from it (it didn’t).

Mr Johnson criticised US President Donald Trump over his comments following the Charlottesville rally in which an anti-fascist protester was killed, saying he was “totally wrong” to suggest that white supremacists, neo-Nazis and racists were “fine people”.

Despite this, the foreign secretary confirmed that the UK will still be welcoming Mr Trump on a state visit – at a future date that has not yet been set.

So he was both supporting and opposing Mr Trump, at the same time.

And Mr Johnson was mistaken on whether international students are included in official migration figures (they are; he said they weren’t)…

… and had to backtrack: “I am content with the success we are having in attracting international students”.

He said he was glad they were not overstaying their period in the UK and were “doing the right thing”. In that case, why include them in migration figures? They haven’t immigrated into the UK; they’re here for a specific purpose and then they leave.

“That is the way they are currently counted,” he dissembled.

The snap verdict, from Twitter, was damning:

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  1. Rusty August 25, 2017 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    I’m sure this will be forgotten by the msm! Just think if this was corbyn! This would be headline news.

  2. Malcolm Frame August 25, 2017 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    Can I ask when did Trump become president of the UK as stated in your article “Mr Johnson criticised UK President Donald Trump”

    • Mike Sivier August 25, 2017 at 11:46 pm - Reply

      Obviously that was a typo.
      Thanks for pointing it out (someone elsewhere also mentioned it). I’ve found and corrected it now.

  3. NMac August 26, 2017 at 7:34 am - Reply

    Johnson made his reputation by putting on a false buffoon act. He has now been exposed as a liar and a bumbling ass who is unfit for any high office.

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