The political walkabout is a staple in the diet of the campaigning politician. And, despite dodging the odd egg or milkshake being considered an occupational hazard, it’s a task Boris Johnson has relished. He may wish he had not bothered on Thursday.
Because, where Gordon Brown had his “bigoted woman” and Ed Miliband had his bacon sandwich, the prime minister has a “please leave my town”.
Johnson was approached by a member of the public while in Morely in Leeds. The man smiled and greeted the prime minister with a handshake, before politely asking him to leave his town. “I will, very soon,” replied Johnson, as the man clapped him on his back and walked away.
On the same day, he was castigated by another member of the public, who was not appeased by the PM’s assurances that his government is seeking a deal. “You should be in Brussels, negotiating,” the man told him. Johnson replied that the government has “been negotiating” but the man, undeterred, shot back: “You are not. You are in Morley, in Leeds.”
He accused Johnson of “playing games”, though Johnson – with some support from the watching audience of passers-by – responded that he believed people wanted to leave the EU on 31 October.
The scenes were yet more bad news for a prime minister whose own brother, Jo Johnson, resigned from the government and indicated he would not seek reelection as an MP because of an “unresolvable tension” between his family loyalty and the national interest.
Several Labour politicians seized on the footage of Johnson’s interaction with one of the men: