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Margaret Beckett: ‘People think Boris Johnson would be a good laugh in the pub. He’d be late and not get a round in’

Dame Margaret Beckett trashes the idea that Boris Johnson would be a laugh in the pub – even if he’s not a good Prime Minister

Dame Margaret Beckett hit Boris Johnson right where it hurts – in the popularity – during a new interview with The Big Issue.

The Labour stalwart first entered the House of Commons in 1974, but as she prepares to step down from frontline politics at the end of this Parliament, Beckett remains as sharp as ever. And the MP for Derby South, who briefly led the Labour Party after John Smith died in 1994, tore down one of the few remaining reasons people might have for voting for Boris Johnson – the idea that he would be a good laugh on a night out, thereby passing the so-called ‘pub test’…

“It used to be really galling when Boris Johnson was first elected because people talked about how funny he was,” Beckett said.

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“Don’t get me wrong, when he was on Have I Got News For You?, he was funny. But you don’t want the joke to be the prime minister.

“And what an odd way to judge somebody you want to be prime minister. People think he’s somebody you’d go for a drink in the pub with and it would be a good laugh.

“What they don’t realise is that if they went for a drink in the pub with Boris Johnson he’d be 15 hours late, he would tell them a joke but it would be one they’d heard 15 times before, and he wouldn’t buy a round. Plus, he would only be there as an excuse for getting out of the house.

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“The idea that he would be happy in their company or stay for long or pay for a round while he was there? Dream on! You’re not talking about that kind of animal.”

Beckett also had her say on the recent confidence vote that Johnson recently survived despite 148 of his MPs voting to oust him.

“I wasn’t the slightest bit surprised that he got through the confidence vote,” she said.

“But he’s more wounded than I thought. If it was anybody but Boris, I would say his days are numbered and he’ll be gone, maybe by the recess. But him?

“People say Theresa May and John Major got better results than him and they walked. Well, Major didn’t walk, he went to an election but was ready to walk if he got a result remotely like Boris’s. But then, they were people with a sense of honour and a sense of the interest of their party. Boris doesn’t care about anything but himself.”

Oof.

Read Margaret Beckett’s Letter To My Younger Self in next week’s Big Issue magazine, out Monday 20 June

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