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My 30 seconds with Prime Minister Boris Johnson

PUBLISHED: 13:28 01 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:23 01 October 2019

Prime minister Boris Johnson has slammed the Supreme Courts ruling that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Prime minister Boris Johnson has slammed the Supreme Courts ruling that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

PA Wire/PA Images

What would you do if you were given 30 seconds in the company of Prime Minister Boris Johnson?

I know for some people it will be hard to answer that question without using profanities, however it was the challenge facing myself just last week.

Dozens of regional editors and lobby correspondents we're invited to attend an evening session with the PM as part of an annual event at 10 Downing Street.

Having never actually been behind the famous black door it was a fascinating insight into life at the very top of British politics and a little glimpse of what our colourful PM is like in real life.

For those who haven't visited the area around Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament before, I would strongly recommend it. Whatever your political persuasion there is something genuinely thrilling about being in a place where so much of this country's history, good and bad, has unfolded.

Stood outside Downing Street waiting to be allowed inside there's a palpable buzz in the air as crowds of people congregate to see if anything is going on.

We've been preceded by a meeting of the cabinet, so every time the gates open there's a surge of excitement as people peer into the departing cars to see who's leaving.

Cameras flash and video camera operators jostle for position in the hope of getting the shot to lead that night's news or the next day's newspaper.

Inside 10 Downing Street the first thing that strikes you is just how normal everything initially is. A friendly member of staff welcomes you in, takes your coat and shows you where to go.

To the right are several rooms, a kitchen, some computers, all very normal, all very office like.

It doesn't take long, however, to be reminded of exactly where you are. We travel up the windy staircase while portraits of previous Prime Minister look down on us.

Interestingly they come to a stop at David Cameron. Perhaps even 10 Downing Street is keen to wipe Theresa May's ill-fated reign from history?

We're led into a main hall where senior members of the regional media await patiently for the arrival of Mr Johnson, many debating whether he'll even turn up.

He does. Flanked by all sorts of advisors and press officers, the PM takes to the lectern to make a five-minute speech.

Given his own previous employment within the local media, Mr Johnson is well-versed on the current landscape in the sector and, as you imagine he's been advised to, makes all the right noises.

He talks about the value of good local journalism, his own memories on patch and is as engaging a speaker as you'd expect him to be. Presentation has never been a problem of his.

At one point he starts to berate the BBC's monopoly on news and access to the public's money, before realising that he's possibly gone off message and cutting himself off.

He then attempts a swift exit but, just as you'd hope with so many journalists in the room, this takes much longer than he had hoped, as people swarm around him for a chat.

To give him his credit, he makes time for every single one, much to the obvious displeasure of his entourage who are clearly keen to get him to his next engagement.

It's as he is surrounded by a particularly vocal group of Scottish journalists that I seize my own chance to pounce, pull him away and introduce myself as editor of the EDP and Norwich Evening News (to which he replies 'oh yes I know those').

I ask him how long it is until Norfolk is given government money for public spending that reflects the positive impact it makes to the country's budget as a whole? And finish with an invite to Norfolk when he's next on the election trail.

He just has time to mumble a response and make a bizarre sort of captain's salute, before being whisked away into the night.

I've taken that as confirmation that pretty soon Norfolk will get all it deserves (sic).

* What would you ask Boris if given 30 seconds of his time? Email me david.powles@archant.co.uk

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