Boris Johnson focuses on ‘dangerously wrong’ regimes … and the Kardashians

Written by David Singleton on 2 October 2016 in Diary

The foreign secretary also praised London as a ‘great jiving funkapolitan melting-pot’

Boris Johnson used his first speech to the Conservative party conference as foreign secretary to show his serious side. Most of the time.

In previous years, the gag-filled Johnson speech has been the Tory conference hot ticket. But in this year’s speech, Johnson spent less time cracking jokes and more time making serious points about foreign affairs.

In particular, he expressed concern that more and more governments are using global instability and insecurity as an excuse to move away from democracy.

He said: “There is a view now in many parts of the world that the only way to ensure prosperity and stability is to suppress freedom to crack down on pesky NGOs and irritating journalists and independent judges and generally to deprecate the western liberal consensus about how a society should be ordered.

“And so if I have one message for you this afternoon, my friends, it is that this illiberal analysis is deeply and dangerously wrong and that these social and political freedoms - freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom to practice whatever religion you want and to live your life as you please - these freedoms are not inimical to prosperity – they are in fact essential to sustained growth.”

But Johnson did not let down any delegates hoping for a bit of booming showmanship to galvanise the Tory troops.

He laid into “the Dave and Deirdre Sparts who were still singing about Lenin’s red flag last week at the Labour party conference”.

He compared his office to somewhere that Kim Kardashian might hang out.

"I am not going to pretend that this country is something we are not. Every day I go into an office so vast that you could comfortably fit two squash courts and so dripping with gilt bling that it looks like something from the Kardashians."

Then he upped the celebrity count by shoe-horning in a mention of Tom Hanks.

"Look at Somalia, where my predecessor William Hague helped initiate a bold programme to tackle the pirates that plagued the coast of that country... It is a happy fact that since 2012 there have been more Hollywood films about Somali pirates starring Tom Hanks than there have been pirate attacks.”

And he had a characteristically colourful description of the England’s capital city.

“The greatest city on earth, a great jiving funkapolitan melting-pot... And that’s why we lead in all those creative and cultural sectors and that’s why we have the best universities, because the best minds from across the world are meeting in some of the best pubs and bars and nightclubs like subatomic particles colliding in a cyclotron."

Read the full speech over at PoliticsHome.




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