Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said the UK will make a “Titanic success” of Brexit. He made the remark as he was presenting an award to George Osborne at the Spectator magazine’s Parliamentarian of the Year ceremony in London. After loud laughter from the audience, he clarified his comments, saying Brexit would be a “colossal success”.
The annual ceremony from the magazine awarded Mr Johnson the political comeback of the year prize. Accepting it, he said: “In the words of our great prime minister… I understood that Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a Titanic success of it.”
But it was not just Mr Johnson getting the laughs.
Prime Minister Theresa May paid sartorial tribute to former chancellor George Osborne, appearing alongside him wearing a hard hat and high-visibility jacket as she accepted her politician of the year prize.
The apparel was much favoured by Mr Osborne during his cabinet days for official visits to factories and large-scale infrastructure projects. As she accepted her award, the prime minister told the audience: “Oh, come on. We’re all builders now.”
Mr Osborne was the guest of honour, using his speech to mock himself and his party colleagues as he handed out his own “real parliamentary awards”.
His self-styled “Sam Allardyce campaign manager of the year award” went to Michael Gove – who Mr Osborne said “made up with the quantity of his leadership campaigns what they lacked in quality”. He gave his “President Erdogan prize for the attempted coup that makes the leader stronger” to the entire parliamentary Labour Party, referring to the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader in September.
Mr Osborne later presented Mrs May with her politician of the year award. Accepting it, Mrs May added a dig over Mr Osborne’s warnings on behalf of the Remain campaign ahead of the Brexit referendum.
She said: “I’m particularly pleased to receive this award from George, because I gather that when it came to the voting it actually got very tight and I owe it to George that he just nudged me over the line – because he told the other members of the jury that if they didn’t vote for me, the economy would collapse and World War Three would start.”
Mrs May also joked about Sir Craig Oliver, former director of communications for her predecessor, David Cameron. She said: “I understand that in his book about the referendum campaign, Craig says that, when he heard the result of the referendum, he walked out of the office, he walked out into Whitehall and he started retching violently.
“I have to say, I think we all know that feeling. Most of us experienced it too – when we saw his name on the resignation honours list.” But she changed the tone by raising a toast to Mr Cameron, who recently stood down as an MP.