Boris Johnson “doesn’t believe in gestures.”
At least that’s what the Prime Minister said when he was asked on LBC this morning whether he would take a knee for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Much like Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab reckoning taking a knee was inspired by Game of Thrones, the PM’s memory seems a bit fishy.
Mr Johnson has been reminding us all recently that toppling statues of slavers is a bad idea – because Britain should document its history.
So just to make sure he’s all brushed up on modern history -we’ve dug out some pictures from the archive that show Britain’s leader really likes a gesture – aside from that time he hid in a fridge to avoid questions.
1. Zip-lining over London
Nothing says ‘I don’t believe in gestures’ like zooming over London waving a pair of Union Jacks.
Boris Johnson was Mayor of London when he got stuck for several minutes he zip-lined over Victoria Park to promote the London 2012 Olympics.
The stunt helped his carefully-honed public perception as daft.
2. Brexit Bulldozer
Grand gestures were also absolutely not a feature of Mr Johnson’s election campaign efforts last Christmas.
Except that time he drove a bulldozer reading ‘Get Brexit Done’ through a wall of foam bricks emblazoned with the word ‘gridlock’.
Quite the photo op.
The leader survived being hospitalised with coronavirus, and just days ago was eager to prove to the world he is “fit as a butcher’s dog” following his near-death experience.
What better way to do that then to drop for some press-ups in his shirt-sleeves for the front page of the Mail on Sunday.
4. Waving around a fish
Boris has stiff competition here for fishiest Brexit gesture from Nigel Farage, who once dumped dead catch in the Thames in a protest over the Government’s transition deal.
But Mr Johnson took the fish-cake when he held up a kipper for the cameras during last year’s Tory leadership race to criticise EU regulations – which turned out to actually be British.
5. That Brexit battle bus
The infamous Brexit campaign Vote Leave batle bus claimed Britain would save £350million a week for the NHS if we left the EU.
The claims on the side of the bus that toured the UK have been widely challenged as misleading.
6. Repainting a plane
While we’re on the topic of transport, nothing screams a distaste for symbolism like a plane emblazoned with a great big Union Jack.
The nearly £1million price-tag got a paint-job for the aircraft that will ferry around the PM and royal family would the Spice Bus to shame.
7. Tim Tams
Speaking of Brexit and immigration, the Tories are eager to deepen trade friendships with Commonwealth mates including Australia and New Zealand.
And as we learned from that kid on Sky News this week, nothing says hardened trade negotiator like bartering for biscuits.
Only weeks ago, the PM exchanged fish waving around a packet of Australia’s favourite biscuits as he joked in Twitter that he has secured Tim Tams “at a reasonable price.”
8. Clapping for key workers
The PM supported the NHS, joining millions of Brits in clapping for carers and key workers on Thursdays outside Downing Street in a heartfelt weekly gesture.
Meanwhile, medics up and down the country were pleading for life-saving PPE and paying for their front line fight against Covid-19 with their lives.
And only weeks after he credited two migrant nurses with saving his life after he was hospitalised with the virus, Mr Johnson’s government upped NHS charges for migrants to the UK.
The Tories later backtracked under pressure, axing the Immigration Health Surcharge for NHS workers.
What taking the knee actually means
In case all this arguing about ‘gestures’ has left you confused, here’s why Boris Johnson was asked if he would take a knee.
It originated as a silent protest against the unfair treatment of black Americans and has become a global symbol of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
Perhaps most famously, NFL star Colin Kaepernick took heat from figures as powerful US President Donald Trump when he began repeatedly taking the knee during the anthem on the pitch.
But Kaepernick’s gesture inspired athletes around the world to follow suit.
And today, BLM demonstrators worldwide can be seen taking a knee to protest racism in marches around the world in the wake of George Floyd’s death.