Hugh Grant on Boris Johnson: Sinister, narcissistic and alarming with potentially no principles at all

Chuka Umunna and Hugh Grant talk with the press yesterday in St John’s Gardens, London SW1

“Could someone interview Hugh Grant tomorrow?” came the call from our esteemed LDV editor Caron, late on Sunday.

Well, one of the advantages of being gloriously retired is that you can often turn on a sixpence. So I jumped at the chance to interview the great man despite basic logistics issues such as “where” and “when” being still unclear. As these basics remained unclear as hours passed I realised I would have to bring forward my powers of initiative and assertiveness.

Fortunately, thanks to the great assistance of our old friend Dr Evan Harris of Hacked Off and Helen Davies, chair of City of London and Westminster Liberal Democrats, yesterday I was introduced to Hugh Grant as a “friend” and got my three minutes with him. You can hear the whole interview here on SoundCloud. (It includes a section about press abuse.)

This was part of a pre-canvassing rally which took place in a corner of St John’s Gardens, London SW1, yesterday afternoon, led by Chuka Umunna, our candidate for the local City of London and Westminster constituency, and Siobhan Benita, our London Mayoral candidate. There was a large crowd of LibDem supporters plus about fifteen journalists including such eminences as the Guardian’s Jon Crace (who is much bigger in real life than he looks on the internet) and The Times’ Quentin Letts (who, as usual, looks like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth when he isn’t metaphorically bashing someone over the head with his keyboard).

As reported by Caron on Sunday, this week Hugh Grant is supporting a mixture of Lib Dem, Labour and Independent MPs. As he puts it:

I’m wandering round London and the suburbs, banging the drum for tactical voting because I think, in the absence of a complete Remain alliance, that’s our only hope as voters. So I go round shouting: “Vote for the person with the best chance of unseating the Tory to save the country.”

Of Chuka Umunna, Hugh Grant said that he had “admired” him for some time, describing him as a “man of principle – a very rare species in the world of British politics these days.”

I asked Hugh Grant what he thought of his old sparring partner (see “Taking on the Tabloids”), Boris Johnson. There followed a silence which lasted for what seemed like an eternity. It was in fact five seconds long and was broken by a large intake of breath by Mr Grant. He then said, thoughtfully:

I used to think “I don’t agree with you necessarily but fine, and you’ve got a sense of humour” but I have to say over the last few years I have come to regard him as increasingly sinister and my conclusion now is that – I’ve seen some narcissists in show business but I think he would be a rosette winner. I think he is a man of potentially no principles at all except for what’s best for Boris – how does he become Prime Minister and how does he cling to that position week by week by week whatever it takes I suspect he will do it and I find that very alarming.

I watched Mr Grant closely as he stood in front of the rally. He looked very solemn. His speech and his answers were very thoughtful, serious and obviously sincere.

This is not some lightweight luvvie riding a frivilous PR bandwagon between movie shoots. It is his first foray into an election. Hugh Grant obviously feels, deep down, that he wants to do something to help to “save the country”. He is, clearly, profoundly motivated by the issues at stake.

Good on him!

Here are two video clips from the event. Firstly, part of Hugh Grant’s speech to the rally. Then there are Chuka’s remarks.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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2 Comments

  • David Goble 4th Dec '19 - 3:56pm

    Over the time that Donald Trump has been President of the USA, I have often remarked to my wife that I feel that he is, possibly, the first elected leader in the Western world who appears to have no moral compass whatsoever. I cannot help feeling, much to my alarm, that there is a possibility of another leader being elected who also has no moral compass; one Boris Johnson. He appears to accept no responsibility for the consequences of any of his actions – one only has to look at the situation of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

  • When the Lib Dems were in the coalition and I used to point this out about Boris on LDV during the London Mayoral elections I was usually told that he was in fact a natural liberal and a much more substantial thinker than I credited him with being. I still think Labour’s big mistake was sticking with ken Livingstone rather than opting for Una King.

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