7 Times Boris Johnson's Political Strategy Was Straight Out Of 'Love Actually'
Boris Johnson was named Prime Minister on July 24, following a vote by Conservative party members. One of his first tasks was to give a speech to the nation. Some watched his acceptance speech slightly puzzled, but others have praised it for being memorable, snappy, and some even went so far as to deem it funny. There have been entire books dedicated to the art of public speaking and as I watched Johnson give his first speeches as Prime Minister I couldn’t help but think of another politician. Here’s seven times Boris Johnson's political strategy was lifted from Love Actually. While Hugh Grant may be a very fictional Prime Minister his and Johnson's styles bear an uncanny resemblance. And it’s not just the way that they speak that’s similar.
Boris Johnson entering Downing Street as Prime Minister poses a lot of firsts. Whether you love him or hate him, there's no denying that he’s always been a big presence in Westminster. It came as little surprise that he won the Conservative Party leadership contest. If you watch his first speeches back it’s hard not to pick up on the big hair and Etonian speaking voice and think of Hugh Grant in Love Actually. However, there’s more that links the pair than a passion for hair products.
1. First PM To Walk Through The Door Of Number 10 Alone
In elections gone by a Prime Minister has always walked into No. 10 for the first time with their marital partner. As the Express reports, Johnson is currently going through a divorce with his second wife Marina Wheeler after 25 years of marriage. This isn’t too dissimilar to PM David in Love Actually. While Grant's character isn't divorced, he does enter office an unmarried man, something that’s played on a lot throughout the film.
2. “Golden Age” Language
One thing that makes political speeches super memorable and helps them go viral are short catchphrases people can latch onto. Johnson decided his would be “golden age.” Brexit and the UK's changing relationship with the EU dominated the Conservative leadership election and “golden age” is what Johnson claims he's going to lead the UK into. While he may not have gone in on the EU as obviously as Hugh Grant does to the U.S. President in Love Actually, there were definitely some similar sentiments shared. If only by Brexiteers. Changes in Britain's relationships took centre stage.
3. Big Mannerisms
Communication experts at Successfully Speaking suggest that body language, facial expressions, and eye contact (or lack thereof) are all super important when trying to make a point to others.
During his entire career in politics, Johnson's arguably played up to a slightly bumbling larger-than-life personality. The movements he made during his initial speeches matched this. He used a lot of exaggerated hand gestures and facial expressions to push points home. In typical Johnson fashion, he also didn’t maintain a lot of eye contact.
Meanwhile, I’m not sure anyone's face has ever moved as much as Hugh Grant’s does in his big speech with the U.S. President in Love Actually. He looks off into space and experiences every emotion under the sun up on the podium.
It’s no secret that both Johnson and Grant are from privileged backgrounds. Educated at Eton, Johnson's persona is super posh and his first speech as PM was no different. With characteristic intonation and a ton of rhetorical questions, it’s as if Grant and Johnson had been given the same speech training.
5. Looking For The Lols
Johnson has never been shy of a laugh. In fact he looks more at home when people are laughing with him. This meant that, whether you thought they were funny or not, throughout Johnson's acceptance speech, he did his best to play for laughs. In Love Actually, Hugh Grant gets the press pool giggling while listing all the things that are truly great about the UK (including David Beckham's right foot.)
6. “The Awesome Foursome” vs “We May Be A Small Country But We’re A Great One Too"
In his speech, Johnson promised to unify the country. This lead him to describe England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales as the “awesome foursome.” I’ll just let that sink in.
However, this idea of national pride and unity was also the basis of Grant’s speech in Love Actually, shown when he told press and the U.S. president "We may be a small country but we're a great one too." While Johnson may not have come out with a phrase which will now be forever etched in my mind, the sentiment of the UK being a great nation was the core idea for both.
7. Making The Most Of An Embarrassing Moment
One of the greatest moments in Love Actually is when Hugh Grant leaves the stage after putting the U.S. President in his place, dances through the halls of Number 10, and gets caught by one of his staff. Johnson is no stranger to these moments, himself. One of the most famous images to come out of his time as London Mayor was him getting stuck in the middle of a zip line over London's Victoria Park while wearing a hard hat and waving Union Jack flags. Any other politician would have called it a PR disaster, but it all just added to Johnson's public persona.
There may be a formula for delivery a good speech but between their big hair, posh accents, and slapstick approach, it's hard not to draw comparisons on Boris Johnson and Hugh Grant's Prime Minister in Love Actually. While one may be known as being a little more suave than the other it's as if they're singing from the same hymn sheet.