Boris Johnson Makes Dramatic Speech to Stir Tory Election Support in U.K.

Hollie Adams/Reuters
Hollie Adams/Reuters

For some Conservative voters in the U.K., it might have been as if all their general election dreams have come true. Former British prime minister Boris Johnson entered the general election race Tuesday night, with a loud, last-minute plea to Tory voters to stay true to their party—even as polls show Rishi Sunak’s government headed for a drubbing at Thursday’s polls, with Labour led by Keir Starmer heading for a reputed landslide.

“All this is coming now, this week, this gigantic Labour majority pregnant with horrors, because even though Labour’s share of the vote is far lower than ours was in 2019, and even though Starmer has record low approval ratings for a man in his position, our system will deliver that supermajority—because too many good, kind, moderate Tories are about to vote for other parties and thereby get exactly the opposite of what they really want,” Johnson said.

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His words, at an event in London also attended by Sunak and other senior party figures, have echoed Sunak and others’ words of recent days, which have amounted to constant attacks on Labour and Starmer personally, warnings of a Labour landslide—with very little positive foregrounding of Conservative policies. The party's negative campaigning is at a voluble zenith.

Johnson resigned as PM in headline-making disgrace in 2023 after it was revealed he had lied over regulation-breaking COVID lockdown parties. His appearance on Tuesday showed that an increasingly desperate Tory leadership still believe Johnson can galvanize the party faithful, despite being a hugely divisive figure in the wider populus.

“If you actually want higher taxes—if you feel you have a few thousand to spare—then vote Labour on Thursday,” Johnson said Tuesday. “If you want uncontrolled immigration, and mandatory wokery, and pointless kowtowing to Brussels, then go right ahead and vote for Starmer. But if you want to protect our democracy and our economy and keep this country strong abroad by spending 2.5 per cent of our GDP on defense, then the only way to do that is to vote Conservative on Thursday.”

Johnson added: “We are here because we love our country, and whatever our differences they are utterly trivial by comparison with the disaster we face if these opinion polls are right.”

Of Nigel Farage’s right-wing Reform party, which has been eating into Tory support, Johnson said: “They say Putin’s a good operator, runs a tight ship; and if that’s what they mean by a man who shoots journalists and poisons his opponents and murders thousands of innocent Ukrainian civilians—I say shame on them. They can achieve nothing in this election except to usher in the most left-wing Labour government since the war with a huge majority, and we must not let it happen.”

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