By William James
LONDON (Reuters) - It was a portentous moment. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had led his party to a thumping election victory, making Britain's divorce from the EU all but certain.
But first, as a matter of traditional British courtesy, Johnson acknowledged the candidates he defeated to comfortably retain his parliamentary seat west of London.
"I thank my fellow candidates in all their glory, Lord Buckethead, Elmo ... forgive me if I don't identify them all," Johnson said.
He wasn't imagining things.
Lined up alongside the besuited Johnson and his more traditional political foes were:
- a man dressed as a furry red Sesame Street character who called himself Bobby Elmo Smith;
- Count Binface who wore a silver garbage can over his head and an improvised suit of armour;
- Lord Buckethead, who donned a similar receptacle, coloured black, and a matching cape.
As Johnson, 55, addressed the nation in his victory speech, "Elmo" quietly removed his costume behind him as the cameras rolled before taking a selfie with the back of the prime minister's head.
"At this stage it does look as though this one-nation Conservative government has been given a powerful new mandate, to get Brexit done, and not just to get Brexit done but to unite this country and to take it forward," the leader declared.
Such colourful sightings are not new to British elections.
The Monster Raving Loony Party, for example, has been contesting seats for decades, and Buckethead was their candidate in Uxbridge.
The party's late founder, "Screaming Lord Sutch", was fond of saying he stood "for the four Rs: reading, writing and rock'n'roll. There's always a serious message through a bit of fun!"
Anyone who wants to stand for parliament must pay a 500 pound ($641.50) deposit, and to get the money back you need to win at least 5% of the vote.
The bad news for Elmo, Binface and Buckethead was that they fell well short.
Elmo won just eight votes to Johnson's 25,351.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Mike Collett-White)