Boris Johnson tells synagogue audience ousting him as PM was ‘a mistake’

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Boris Johnson tells synagogue audience ousting him as PM was ‘a mistake’

Exclusive: In a Q&A session with members of the only shul in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat, the former prime minister also praised the 'enormous contribution' to this country made by Jews in London and elsewhere

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Boris Johnson speaks to Ruislip Synagogue members
Boris Johnson speaks to Ruislip Synagogue members

Boris Johnson has told a synagogue audience in his local constituency that he believes his ousting as prime minister was “a mistake.”

Appearing at the event for members of Ruislip Synagogue Johnson was responding to a question from an audience member.

An audience member at the Monday’s event told Jewish News:”Boris used the ‘mistake’ word unprompted when asked a question by an audience member

“It was clear throughout the conversation he felt he was wrongly removed. And it’s clear he definitely still has political ambitions.”

Johnson vowed to carry on supporting Sunak’s government from the back-benches but made it clear on several occasions he believed it was a “mistake” to replace him.

He also used the expression “if I rise again” during his conversation with about 40 members of the small west London congregation.

The former PM had pulled out of last month’s Tory leadership race, which left Sunak replacing Liz Truss as leader.

He had resigned as PM in July blaming the “herd instinct” of Tory MPs for his downfall.

In a question-and-answer session, chaired by former London Jewish Forum Director Daniel Kosky, Johnson stated it was “absolutely” his intention to stand in his local Uxbridge and South Ruislip at the next election, even though current polls suggest he would lose his seat.

Elsewhere in the revealing one hour long chat at the only shul in his west London constituency, Johnson praised the “enormous contribution” of the Jewish community in London and elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

He spoke of his own family roots which “traced back to a Rabbi in Moscow”.

On antisemitism, Johnson spoke of the need to “remain vigilant” against Jew hatred, which he added was “always  there like a spore of a virus incubating under the floorboards of society.”

Johnson said the community in the capital and elsewhere in the UK would continue to have his “unwavering support.”

He added he was “pleased to be able to support the Jewish community during my time as Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and Mayor of London.”

Johnson said he expected the war in Ukraine to continue for the foreseeable future and warned that there was no deal Ukraine could strike with Russia.

He said: “You can’t negotiate with a crocodile which is eating your leg” before adding, “I genuinely believe that Ukraine can win”.

Turning to the Middle East, Johnson said he was surprised that Iran has been unable to produce a nuclear weapon given its size and resources.

He defended the decision of the U.K. to sign the JCPOA while he was Foreign Secretary as “the right thing to do”, but stressed the U.K., Israel and other countries around the world must keep up pressure on Iran.

On Israel, Johnson praised the Abraham Accords and encouraged greater cooperation between Israel and the Gulf States, calling Israel “the economic powerhouse of the region”.

He said even “the Saudis” can see the merits of engaging with Israel.

Johnson also praised Donald Trump’s role in making the Abraham Accords happen, stating “it’s for this reason I disagree with people who say Trump was all bad”.

On the issue of housing targets which is currently splitting the Conservative Party, Johnson said there is a simple answer to the housing crisis.

“We must build infrastructure, then homes will be built,” he said.

He pointed to the success of developments at Barking Riverside and Battersea, where investing in new transport links “paid for themselves”.

Johnson said housing pressures in London and the southeast are exactly why he believes passionately in his policy of levelling-up “We need to bring jobs and investment to other parts of the country”.

When asked a question on Matt Hancock’s participation in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Johnson stated he wouldn’t follow in the footsteps of his father and take part in the show.

But asked whether he voted for Hancock, Johnson joked he couldn’t figure out how to, but that “Carrie worked it out and managed to vote for him”

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