Owen Jones delivers the perfect takedown of Boris Johnson’s tea stunt

Owen Jones and Boris Johnson
Fréa Lockley

Campaigner and journalist Owen Jones called the UK media an “utter disgrace” after a clip of Boris Johnson offering journalists tea went viral. His takedown of Johnson is just perfect, because Johnson still hasn’t apologised for his Islamophobic comments about Muslim women.

“Contrived patter”

The former foreign secretary said that women wearing burqas or niqabs look like “letter boxes” and ‘bank robbers’.

Some Conservatives – including PM Theresa May and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi – called on Johnson to apologise. An internal party investigation will examine the Islamophobic content of his remarks, which one Conservative MP says could cause “open warfare” among Tories.

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But Jacob Ress-Mogg defended him. So too [paywall] did his father and sister. Fascist Steve Bannon also waded in to support Johnson. The former Breitbart editor used a Times interview to praise both Johnson and far-right ‘leader’ Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson). He further claimed the Tory MP would make “a great prime minister”.

But Johnson has not apologised. So when broadcasters sent a video of him serving tea viral, Jones called them out:

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Letting Johnson off the hook

Journalists who were present failed to get any comment from Johnson. But the clip of him refusing to say much beyond “would you like a cup of tea?” went viral. And Jones was spot on – too many people seemed “charmed”:

It really did get Johnson “off the hook”:

Others turned to journalistic moments from the past to highlight quite how ludicrous Johnson’s tea stunt was:

And as Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy pointed out, Johnson’s words seem to have had a chilling impact. Abusive acts and racist comments towards Muslim women have spiked:

“Bigoted charlatan”

Johnson doesn’t make ‘gaffes’; he insults thousands of people. He’s not a likeable ‘buffoon‘. Calling him ‘Boris’ or ‘BoJo’ only plays further into this constructed act. Because Johnson is a calculating Tory politician who is currently gathering support from the far right.

So Jones is spot on with his analysis of Johnson as a “bigoted charlatan”. His ‘tea party’ was a distracting stunt, and all journalists should call it out as such.

There was, as a Financial Times journalist pointed out, no reason for journalists to tweet out this video:

The press has the power to choose what becomes a story. So Johnson’s ‘tea party’ coverage says as much about the current state of the media in the UK as it does his racist comments, privilege, and refusal to answer direct questions. Because, right now, Johnson has a lot of serious questions he needs to answer.

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Featured images via Marc Lozano/Flickr and screengrab/YouTube

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