Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 10 weeks into his eventful premiership, is no stranger to defeat. He’s lost every vote he’s put to the House of Commons (a straight 0-7), he’s lost his majority, and he’s been defeated in the Supreme Court, having been judged to have lied to the Queen over his reasons for suspending Parliament. Now, in Manchester for the Conservative Party Conference, Johnson has just been filmed losing a hot drink in a disposable cup.
Johnson, under immense pressure to — per his party slogan — “Get Brexit Done” is simultaneously trying and also, evidently not, trying to ‘get a deal’ for the U.K.’s departure from the European Union before judgement day in Brussels on the 19th October. All while his and the EU’s deadline of 31st October looms over a paralysed British Parliament.
Between braying factions, media appearances, and remembering which story he’s most recently contradicted, Johnson might be forgiven of needing a hot drink.
Video footage, captured by Channel 4 News’ Neil Corbett and which has since gone viral, emerged this lunchtime of the leader marching through the conference hall flanked by two aides.
Did anyone spot this moment at the Conservative Party Conference?@BorisJohnson was handed a plastic coffee cup by an aide, before another aide immediately snatched it away.— On Demand News (@ODN) October 1, 2019
"No disposable cups", she was heard saying. pic.twitter.com/i1nYZ5AFjF
It has been likened to a scene from the political satirical drama, The Thick Of It.
It goes like this:
Aide one, to Johnson’s right (who just so happens to be Robert Oxley, the former head of corporate communications at restaurant delivery giant Deliveroo) hands him a cup of what is apparently a hot drink. For argument’s sake, let’s say it’s a cup of tea or coffee.
“Thank you,” the Prime Minister replies.
Aide two, Shelley Williams-Walker, nearly out of the microphone’s range: “Oh no, you shouldn’t have that.”
A panicky Johnson is taken by surprise as aide two now steps in closer from his left.
The cup is confiscated!
“Oop, woop, woop,” Johnson cries as he appears to lift his arms in some sort of surrender to hastily re-remembered protocol.
“No. Disposable. Cups,” aide two says, unable to conceal her fury at aide one’s flouting of protocol.
Four potential theories, then, on the rationale behind this #quirky ‘policy’.
- Is the Prime Minister supposed to care about the environment?
- Is the Prime Minister famously not enamoured by disposable cups?
- Is the Prime Minister only allowed to drink from the #onbrand ceramic mugs which have been made especially for this event — ones which bear his own face and signature?
- Is the Prime Minister’s chief strategist, Dominic Cummings, trying to manipulate the news, in the way he did, to varying degrees of success, with model buses and with chicken?
The story ends with a smug Johnson lifting his own, ceramic mug.