Boris Johnson: The outgoing Prime Minister’s most memorable quotes
A former journalist, Boris Johnson’s fluency in the English language often allowed him to dazzle crowds, helping him win his party’s leadership race in 2019 and the subsequent general election later that year .
But while the incumbent prime minister has frequently used rhetoric (critics might call it bluster) to his advantage, his words – and his ability to put his foot in his mouth – have also gotten him into trouble on numerous occasions. .
As Mr Johnson steps down as Prime Minister, The Independent looks at some of his most memorable quotes over a two-decade political career.
Elvis on Mars
A good place to start is with Mr Johnson discussing his chances of becoming Prime Minister in 2004 while answering questions from The Independent readers. The then shadow secretary said: “My chances of being prime minister are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or me being reincarnated as an olive.”
Fifteen years later Mr Johnson has become Prime Minister of the UK – but there is no sign of Elvis in space.
Cake pro and pro who eats it
Perhaps one of Mr Johnson’s most famous quotes is a maxim that many observers believe guided his approach to life and politics.
“My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it,” he said when he was mayor of London – a role he held for two terms between 2008 and 2015.
The riff on the famous proverb ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it’ apparently served Mr Johnson well for most of his political career, right up to 10 Downing Street.
But it also helped play a part in his downfall, with some of the mutinous MPs ultimately angering him over tax hikes Mr Johnson had previously promised he would never introduce.
The Prime Minister floundered when he lost his place in a high-profile speech to business leaders – and resorted to talking about the Peppa Pig World theme park.
Mr Johnson was speechless for 20 seconds as he skimmed through his text, mumbling “pardon me, forgive me”.
Addressing the CBI’s annual conference, he compared himself to Moses, made “vroom, vroom” noises, made risque jokes, stumbled over his words, was silent for almost a half minute after losing his place and asked the leaders to raise their hands if they had visited Peppa Pig World.
Before Keir Starmer was elected leader of the Labor Party, Mr Johnson repeatedly clashed with Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions.
In a clash, he branded the former Labor leader a ‘chlorinated chicken’ after the MP for Islington North voiced his opposition to a trade deal.
“I know he’s worried about free trade deals with America, but there’s only one chlorinated chicken I can see in this Chamber and he’s on this bench,” Mr. .Johnson.
‘Probably not a good idea’
Britain’s ambassador to Myanmar had to arrest Mr Johnson while he was reciting a poem by Rudyard Kipling at the country’s holiest temple.
The poem is written through the eyes of a retired British serviceman in what was then known as Burma, which Britain ruled between 1824 and 1948, and also refers to embracing a local girl.
Mr Johnson had also called a gilded statue at the Shwedagon Padoga Temple a ‘really big guinea pig’ shortly before launching into the worms.
As he recited the poem, a video showed the British ambassador to the country, Andrew Patrick, growing increasingly tense. When the then Foreign Secretary reached the third line of the poem – “the wind is in the palm trees…the temple bells they say” – Mr. Patrick decided to intervene.
“You’re on the mic,” he said. “Probably not a good idea.”
Fat shaming Ian Blackford
Mr Johnson had many memorable moments in PMQs, as this article will highlight, but his exchanges with SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford were always heated. Mr Johnson claimed to be ‘co-operating well’ with the Scottish MP, but in an exchange in January 2022 many criticized the Prime Minister for crossing a line.
The SNP Commons leader grilled Mr Johnson by referring to a Partygate revelation that the Prime Minister shared a cake with staff on his birthday while the rest of the country was in lockdown.
“The impending National Insurance tax hike hangs like a guillotine while they eat cake,” Mr Blackford said.
In response, Mr Johnson said with a laugh: ‘Well, Mr President, I don’t know who ate more cake.’
John Lewis’ Lover
Mr Johnson has been the target of numerous accusations relating to his conduct during his time as Prime Minister. However, one claim he was not going to authorize was an alleged dislike of British department store John Lewis.
Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie Symonds reportedly decided to redecorate their flat at 11 Downing Street after inheriting a ‘John Lewis furniture nightmare’ from Theresa May, Ms Symonds said.
Asked about it in 2021, Mr Johnson said: ‘If there’s one thing I object to in all this farrago [we have no idea] of nonsense is that if anything, I love John Lewis.
“Explosion of Chocolate Taste”
Mr Johnson omitted no detail when describing his favorite cookie while answering the famous Mumsnet interview question. He was interviewed by the platform in 2012 as Mayor of London and said the chocolate digestive was his favorite cookie for a range of reasons.
“The important point about a chocolate digestive is that it combines the temptation of chocolate with the nourishment of the full pabulum biscuit,” he said.
“Every cookie delivers on that promise, day after day, until you get to the bottom of the pack.”
When asked again in 2022, he stuck to his choice of a decade earlier, but added, “It’s the explosion of chocolate taste that draws you in.”
“Who is Lorraine?
In his first interview in five years with Good Morning Britain, Mr Johnson was asked by host Susanna Reid about the cost of living crisis, Partygate and whether he was being honest.
As Ms Reid prepared to hand over to ITV’s Lorraine Kelly who was waiting on hold, Mr Johnson’s response broke the hearts of Britons. He asked, “Who is Lorraine?”
‘I think, as was clear, the Prime Minister was not fully through ITV’s daytime programming this morning,’ a spokesman said in his defence. “But you will understand that he has a number of issues to deal with on his desk.”
During a 2019 Brexit exchange with former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn in PMQs, Mr Johnson accused Mr Corbyn of favoring relations with Russia and Iran over the Kingdom’s French and US allies -United.
Using colorful language, he said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn thinks our friends are in the Kremlin, Tehran and Caracas – and I think he is Caracas!’
During his time as The telegraph of the day columnist, Mr Johnson took offense by using a racist term for black children when describing the support the Queen receives in the Commonwealth.
He wrote in 2002: “The Queen is said to have come to love the Commonwealth, in part because it regularly supplies her with cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.”
Insult niqab wearers as “mailboxes”
In another column for The Daily Telegraph – a weekly engagement that earned him £275,000 a year – Mr Johnson described the clothing as oppressive, adding it was “absolutely ridiculous” that people were “choosing to walk around looking like letterboxes”.
He said some restrictions on their wearing were “reasonable” but opposed a Danish-style outright ban in public places and claimed: “One day I’m sure they will.”
He wrote: “If a constituent showed up at my MP’s office with her face masked, I should feel fully entitled…to ask her to remove it so that I can speak to her properly.
Like Jeremy Corbyn, Sir Keir Starmer faced heated exchanges with Mr Johnson, including insulting jokes.
One, in particular, was the ‘retrospective captain’ – a nickname Mr Johnson used to describe the Labor leader during disagreements over Covid policies.
Mr Johnson also played on the perception that Mr Starmer was boring by calling him ‘Captain Crasheroonie Snoozefest’ in his penultimate PMQ. The prime minister repeated the joke three times this session to chants from excited backbench MPs.
Calling Mr Starmer ‘a lawyer and not a leader’ was another memorable quote the Prime Minister gave the former chief prosecutor.
‘Hasta la vista, baby’
Mr Johnson could not close his final PMQs without a few memorable words to leave the despatch box.
He declared “mission largely accomplished, for now” before signing his last appearance by telling MPs: “Hasta la vista, baby”, in reference to the famous phrase from The Terminator.
The outgoing Prime Minister received a standing ovation from the Tory benches after concluding his final address, although his predecessor Theresa May did not join in the applause.
‘These are the breaks’
In his speech announcing his resignation in the UK after 57 resignations from his cabinet, Mr Johnson admitted he was sad to be giving up the ‘best job in the world’.
However, Mr Johnson also used a bizarre turn of phrase in his speech which left many viewers confused.
“And I want you to know how sad I am to give up the best job in the world. balls broken on the table by a player after being accumulated in formation.