This footage of an incoherent, rambling Boris Johnson could lose him the election

Boris Johnson talking in Northern Ireland
Kerry-anne Mendoza

Footage of an incoherent, rambling Boris Johnson at a campaign event has been viewed over 2 million times on social media. And it might just lose him the upcoming general election. Goodness knows, elections have been lost over far less than this.

The footage

The prime minister was speaking at the Northern Ireland Conservatives’ meeting on 7 November. The atmosphere should be electric. But the behaviour of Boris Johnson is so bizarre, the bystanders look visibly uncomfortable and attempt to avoid eye contact. Perhaps they’re hoping if they look away long enough, he’ll go away.

Start your day with The Canary News Digest

Fresh and fearless; get excellent independent journalism from The Canary, delivered straight to your inbox every morning.




Johnson is attempting to explain the impact his Brexit deal will have on Northern Ireland. I say attempting, because it’s clear that even he doesn’t understand what on earth he’s talking about. He gesticulates wildly, and takes long pauses as he struggles to remember what a trade tariff is (a tax on goods crossing national borders). And then he seems to almost forget he’s talking about the UK and Ireland. To take just one highlight (ellipses used to indicate pauses):

So when you come out of the, of the EU Customs Union which is what we’ve done…you have to have some way…of checking…that goods…that might be…attract a tariff going from the United Kingdom…into…Ireland…pay that tariff. If there is to be a tariff.

And the only place you can do it, if you don’t do it at the border…is…at the border in Northern Ireland. Most..the…the…there will not not be tariffs or checks on goods coming from GB to NI that are not going on to…Ireland. That’s the whole point.

The reaction

The footage has to be seen to be believed. Johnson is unable to explain his own Brexit deal to an audience of Conservative supporters. And he’s also unable to even pretend he has a handle on it. Once it began to circulate on social media, there was no stopping it:

And it later broke into the mainstream media. Chiefly because it shows that a) Johnson does not understand the ramifications of his own Brexit deal, and b) his botched explanation directly contradicts his own Home Office and Brexit secretary. Asked if trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain will be subject to customs declarations, Johnson replied:

You will absolutely not. And if somebody asks you to do that, tell them to ring up the prime minister, and I will direct them to throw that form in the bin.

The problem is, according to his deal, they absolutely will. Tossing the form in the bin won’t make that fact go away.

In an interview with Sky News, shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer called the PM out for his reckless statements, saying:

This is a prime minister who either doesn’t know the details of the deal that he has negotiated, or isn’t being straight about it. Or probably both.

Make it stop

Labour had a narrow lead in the polls until the last moments of the 1992 election, when Neil Kinnock gave his infamous “We’re all right!” shout. That one moment is said to have lost Labour the election. Three triumphalist words.

With Johnson, we have something far worse. A prime minister unable to remember his own flagship policy, or so dishonest as to wilfully misrepresent it.

The entire world has watched on in horror as a babbling narcissist reduces US politics to a global joke. What Boris Johnson’s recent performances show is if we elect this charmless clown on 12 December, the UK faces the same fate.

Featured image via Twitter

Since you're here ...

We know you don't need a lecture. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to challenge the rightwing press and hold power to account. Please help us survive and thrive.

The Canary Support
  • Show Comments
    1. I found it very discomforting that he clearly didn’t know what his deal contained. The people around him look embarrassed and they should. This is supposed to be the Prime Minister. I always said he was a dangerous buffoon and he is proving that time and time again.

    2. Britain is on the cusp of something resembling Trump coming to power. An utterly depressing vision for anyone who does not hold extreme right views.

      Unfortunately, Corbyn’s legacy looks like being the man who made Johnson seem more credible as a PM. How can any Labour leader be 10-15 points behind such a shockingly bad Johnson.

    3. Johnson says there will be no tariffs between GB, and NI, and then describes where they will be collected.
      Confusing story about what will happen to the duty on “chips”? He is far from being straightforward while using his cosmic charm to make this deal seem all socially right.
      If anyone thinks he can send the “Form” to the Prime Minister” where it will be torn up has to be on his last drink of a long night.
      The “Once in power everything will be all right feeling” is unreal. I’ve never known anything to appear all right once a Party is in power.
      He may be tired , but what’s in the glass he’s holding? It has to be water now.

    4. I have heard from people in London and else where Johnson has a drink and possibly a “marching powder” issue. Recent behaviour would give this some credence, the media must have heard the rumours?

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.