Boris Johnson has praised the children’s cartoon character Peppa Pig in a bizarre speech before regaling business leaders, sparking journalists to ask if the British PM was OK.
After becoming lost for words during his speech at the Confederation of British Industry conference on Monday (local time), Mr Johnson rambled and shuffled through his notes for 20 seconds before going on to talk about a visit to a Peppa Pig theme park that he described as “my kind of place”.
Mr Johnson swore under his breath and repeatedly asked the business leaders to “forgive me” after he got his notes mixed up on the podium.
He also compared himself to Moses for his plan to couple business investments with tackling climate change and imitated the sound of an accelerating car.
The official Downing Street release transcribed it as “arum arum araaaaaagh”. But some of Mr Johnson’s Conservative Party colleagues were less kind.
“Business was really looking for leadership today and it was shambolic,” a senior Downing Street source told the BBC.
They said there was “a lot of concern inside the building” about Mr Johnson.
“Cabinet needs to wake up and demand serious changes otherwise it’ll keep getting worse. If they don’t insist, he just won’t do anything about it.”
But it got worse for Mr Johnson. No longer looking at his notes, he offered up a tribute “to Peppa Pig World” – a holiday park several hours away from his Newcastle audience.
“I don’t know if you’ve been to Peppa Pig World – who’s been? Hands up if anybody’s been to Peppa Pig World,” he said.
“I was a bit hazy as to what I would find at Peppa Pig World but I loved it, Peppa Pig World is very much my kind of place.”
Mr Johnson tangent followed his recent trip to Hampshire’s Peppa Pig World with his family on the weekend. His office helpfully released a snap of the family jaunt.
The British PM transitioned to a comparison of Peppa Pig World and the private sector, explaining the “real lesson” he learned from his trip was the evidence of “the power of UK creativity”.
“It has very safe streets, discipline in schools, heavy emphasis on new mass transit systems. Even if they’re a bit stereotypical about Daddy Pig,” he told the CBI.
After his speech, Mr Johnson was confronted by a BBC journalist and was asked, “Frankly, is everything OK?”
“I think the people got the vast majority of the points I wanted to make and I thought it went over well,” Mr Johnson said.
But Labour’s shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, described it as “shambolic”.
“No one was laughing, because the joke’s not funny anymore,” she said.
Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said: “Businesses are crying out for clarity. Instead, all they got was Boris Johnson rambling on about Peppa Pig.
“It is a perfect metaphor for Johnson’s chaotic, incompetent government as it trashes our economy, but it is not worthy of a British prime minister,” he said.