Great Britain

Press opportunity: Johnson's most awkward moments with hecklers (so far)

The Whipps Cross hospital incident is the latest in a series of awkward encounters for Boris Johnson as he tours the UK and Europe in anticipation of a likely early election.


On Friday the prime minister’s speech about regional devolution was interrupted by a charity worker who loudly heckled him about proroguing parliament. “Get back to parliament” shouted Ben Gilchrist. “He got me going when he started talking about how he valued local representation,” Gilchrist told the Guardian after being escorted from the venue.


Earlier on Friday a woman in Doncaster market berated Johnson about austerity and accused him of telling “fairy tales” about Brexit. She said: “Where’s the money coming from now then? All you’re going to do is put the same amount of police on the streets as what you’ve took off.” When Johnson trotted out spending figures, she replied: “People have died because of austerity, and you’ve got the cheek to come here and tell us austerity’s over and it’s all good now.”


Johnson’s attempt to use police recruits as a backdrop for a political speech backfired when one of the officers behind him collapsed after being made to stand in the sun for an hour. Senior police officers later accused Johnson of abusing the impartiality of the police for political gain.

Morley, Leeds

An older man was filmed shaking Johnson’s hand on a walkabout in the Morley area of Leeds on 5 September. Broadcast microphones picked him up politely saying “please leave my town”. Johnson replied: “I will, very soon.”

Moments later another man told the PM: “you should be in Brussels negotiating”. Johnson said: “We are negotiating.” The man replied “You are not. You are in Morley, in Leeds. You are playing games.”


On Monday Johnson decided not to take part in a open-air press conference with the Luxembourg prime minister, Xavier Bettel, because of a rowdy anti-Brexit protest nearby. Johnson scuttled past the waiting lecterns in a courtyard outside Bettel’s office to chants of “bollocks to Brexit” and “bog off Boris”. Bettel then empty-chaired Johnson and criticised his lack of proposals for a new Brexit deal.

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