‘The more he speaks the less he says’: 7 bizarre lines from Boris Johnson’s conference speech

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Boris Johnson Tory Party Conference speechY
Boris Johnson displayed his trademark use of colourful language and phrasing during his 43-minute Tory party conference address. (Getty)

“My chestnuts in a Tartarian pit”, “build back beaver” and “coagulated roundabouts”.

These were just three of the bizarre turns of phrases deployed by Boris Johnson in his keynote conference speech – one littered with colourful language that has become the prime minister's trademark.

Johnson used his 43-minute speech to present a vision of Britain that would be driven by a high-wage, high-skills workforce for a “low-tax economy”.

He also heaped praise on the NHS and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, crediting it for allowing the country to open up again on 19 July following months of lockdown.

However, it was the flamboyant phrasing that Johnson is known for which stood out in his address.

Boris Johnson has given his first in-person speech at Tory conference since winning the 2019 general election. (PA)
Boris Johnson has given his first in-person speech at Tory conference since winning the 2019 general election. (PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his keynote speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. Picture date: Wednesday October 6, 2021.
Prime minister Boris Johnson delivers his keynote speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. (PA)

Referring to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Johnson branded him a “lefty lawyer” and the “Starmer chameleon”, while also branding former leader Jeremy Corbyn as a “corduroyed communist cosmonaut”.

He also made light of Michael Gove being filmed dancing at a nightclub, calling the housing secretary “Jon Bon Govi”.

However, for some, Johnson’s speech was designed to hide government mis-steps, with Labour highlighting child poverty and the state of public services in England.

Shadow child poverty secretary Wes Streeting tweeted: “The more he speaks the less he says.

“The low wage, low productivity, low skill economy Boris Johnson describes, where life expectancy is falling and child poverty is rising, is a direct result of Tory policies he has championed for 11 years.”

SNP MP Pete Wishart described Johnson’s speech as “like a poor stand up routine with rotten jokes delivered by someone with no self awareness”, while Labour’s Peter Kyle said the PM was “rambling, gabbling, incoherent”.

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon added: “For all the bluster, all the colourful display, there is a bleak truth. He [Johnson] and the rest of his cabinet are in it for themselves, and to hell with the consequences.”

Yahoo News UK has captured a snapshot of the prime minister’s most colourful comments.

'My chestnuts in a Tartarian pit’

While reflecting on his time in hospital as he recovered from COVID last year, Johnson mentioned a large hole he noticed being dug outside, joking that it may have been for himself.

He said: “They seemed to be digging a hole for something or indeed someone, possibly me.

“But the NHS saved me and our wonderful nurses pulled my chestnuts out of that Tartarian pit, and I went back on a visit the other day and I saw that the hole had been filled in with three or four gleaming storeys of a new paediatrics unit.”

Watch: PM pushes levelling up message during conference speech

The Tartarian pit is Johnson’s reference to the Tartarian Empire, a lost civilisation from north-central Asia – a region that was at that point poor understood by Europeans.

Recent conspiracy theories have suggested that modern architecture are in fact buildings from the supposed lost empire of ‘Tartaria’.

‘Build back beaver’

Riffing on this year’s ‘Build back better’ slogan for the Tory conference, Johnson joked about being unable to paint the door of No 10 Downing Street and shared an ambition of trying to “rewild” parts of the country as he welcomed otters and beavers returning to rivers.

“If that isn’t conservative, my friends, I don’t know what is – build back beaver, I say,” he said.

He also made a similar joke when highlighting how the US was importing British beef again, telling the crowd: “Build back burger”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his keynote speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. Picture date: Wednesday October 6, 2021.
Boris Johnson came up with a series of bizarre phrases during his conference speech. (PA)

'Powder rooms of North London’

The PM denounced Labour’s suggestion of decriminalising drugs as “straight from the powder rooms of north London dinner parties”.

Sir Keir Starmer is the MP for Holborn and St Pancras in north London, while several other Labour MPs represent other constituencies in the surrounding areas, while ‘powder rooms’ are areas where drugs can often be consumed secretly.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is joined by his wife Carrie on stage after delivering his keynote speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. Picture date: Wednesday October 6, 2021.
Boris Johnson is joined by his wife Carrie on stage after delivering his keynote speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. (PA)

‘Raucous caucus from the anti-Aukus caucus’

On the new Australia, UK and US (Aukus) defence pact, Johnson noted that Labour voted against it at their party conference last week.

Using his infamous way with words, Johnson said: “I know there has been a certain raucous caucus from the anti-Aukus caucus but Aukus is simply a recognition of the reality that the world is tilting on its economic axis and our trade and relations in the Indo-Pacific are becoming more vital more than ever before.”

'Firing staple guns like carbines'

Johnson was full of praise for the UK’s vaccine rollout and said the country was able to open up ahead of other nations due to the rapid pace jabs were administered to the most vulnerable groups.

He said: “The magic potion (vaccine) invented in Oxford University and bottled in Wales, distributed at incredible speed to vaccination centres everywhere.

“I saw the army in action in Glasgow, firing staple guns like carbines as they set up a huge vaccination centre and in Fermanagh, I saw the needles go in like a collective sewing machine.”

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his keynote speech on the final day of the annual Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Central convention centre in Manchester, northwest England, on October 6, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Johnson delivers his keynote speech on the final day of the annual Conservative Party Conference. (Getty)

'Monkey glands and royal jelly'

The PM also used colourful terms when discussing his levelling up policy and describing the imbalance in regions across the UK.

He added: “It is not just that there is a gap between London and the South East and the rest of the country, there are aching gaps within the regions themselves.

“What monkey glands are they applying in Ribble Valley? What royal jelly are they eating that they live seven years longer than the people of Blackpool only 33 miles away?”

'Fibre-optic vermicelli'

Johnson added the rollout of fibre-optic broadband, or as he describes it 'fibre-optic vermicelli', was helping to level up the country.

He also took this opportunity to praise Chancellor Rishi Sunak and criticise SNP leader Ian Blackford.

He said: “Thanks to Rishi’s superdeduction the pace is now accelerating massively.

“As companies thrust the fibre-optic vermicelli in the most hard to reach places.

“For years SNP leader Ian Blackford has been telling the Commons that he is nothing but a humble crofter on the Isle of Skye.

“Now we have fibre-optic broadband so good that we can inspect the library or is it perhaps the billiard room of Ian Blackford’s croft.

“And that is levelling up in action.”

Watch: Johnson arrives ahead of speech at Tory Party Conference

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