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Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s British Curry Awards Speech Was a Hot Mess

Johnson followed up his Peppa Pig impression at the CBI last week with talk of “fragrant medleys,” “flavoursome morsels,” and “building back balti”

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The Spectator Parliamentarian Of The Year Awards
Boris Johnson dialling in a speech in 2020
David M. Benett/Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a politician who apparently likes to write his own speeches, is on quite the run of form: Last week, he addressed a group of serious business heads at the CBI and after wandering into the world of children’s TV star Peppa Pig, Johnson began rifling through his printed notes having lost his place in the speech.

Then last night, in a pre-recorded message for those attending the seventeenth annual British Curry Awards, Johnson plumped for strange descriptors, cringe alliteration, and some nonsense.

The event, which was held in Battersea, south London, saw Michelin-starred Mayfair restaurant Benares scoop the award for “best in central London”; while that restaurant’s disgraced former chef Atul Kochhar picked up the “best newcomer” for Mathura, the restaurant he opened in Westminster last month, the Evening Standard reports.

In his address, Johnson called the event, which has been running since 2005, “one of the greatest events in our gastronomic calendar,” before borrowing the phrase allegedly coined by former Prime Minister and Johnson-chum-turned-adversary David Cameron — “the curry Oscars.” Johnson said how it was “fantastic to celebrate the genius of our curry restaurateurs who have, for decades, offered their fragrant medleys.”

He went on to praise the resolve and creativity shown by restaurateurs during the pandemic, noting their “feeding” of the frontline workers his own government refuses to pay properly: “Throughout the testing times of the past two years you’ve always responded with resolve and creativity, feeding our NHS heroes, and dispatching fleets of mopeds to bring spice to the lives of millions of people at home,” he commented.

Johnson expressed his pleasure at the restaurant industry’s recovery in the second half of 2021. He was “glad to say, customers are returning en masse and curry houses the length and breadth of these islands are bustling once again. More than 10,000 of them across the whole of the United Kingdom, that’s 200 hundred for every city. Never forget, more in London than in Mumbai.” Readers could be left wondering whether Johnson read just the one (1) story online before dialling in his message.

Nevertheless, the PM saved the worst to the last: “And since the British Curry Awards are now in their 17th year with a record number of nominations,” he said. “We’re not just building back better, we’re building back balti.” A cheap nod to his government’s post-COVID campaign strategy.

“I want to thank you all, restaurateurs, chefs and waiters for blessing us with your flavoursome morsels. And congratulations to all the nominees and of course to the prize winners for your achievements, and have a great evening.”