Boris Johnson's 'Titanic success for Brexit' remark holed below waterline
Published 03/11/2016 | 00:11
The UK will make a "Titanic" success of Brexit, Boris Johnson has said as he picked up an award for political comeback of the year.
When ex-chancellor George Osborne pointed out that "the Titanic sank", the Foreign Secretary changed his mind and went with " colossal " instead, prompting riotous laughter from the audience.
He was speaking at the annual Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards ceremony at Rosewood Hotel, which saw a gathering of current and former Government ministers including Prime Minister Theresa May.
Mr Johnson told the audience he was taking the "machete of freedom" to the EU legislation and insisted Brexit plans were going well.
He said: "In the words of our great Prime Minister I believe they understand that Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a Titanic success of it."
In a night of in-jokes and fun-poking, Mrs May went on stage dressed in a hard hat and hi-vis jacket to collect her Politician of the Year Award from Mr Osborne, who frequently donned the safety garb for campaign visits to building sites while he was in Number 11.
And former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine was the butt of a running joke.
Lord Heseltine was forced to deny killing his mother's pet Alsatian, insisting Kim was still alive after the incident and was put down the following day by the vet because of its violent outburst.
On his elevation to Foreign Secretary after a doomed leadership bid, Mr Johnson said: "Like the faithful Alsatian belonging to Michael Heseltine, there have been moments since June 23, when in those very grim days after June 23, I genuinely feared that I might be strangled by a crazed, pop-eyed Europhile Remainer and like Kim the Alsatian therefore I am absolutely thrilled to have had this reprieve.
"The dog had a very brief reprieve. I hope that obviously my comeback will be a bit longer than Kim the Alsatian's."
Mr Osborne joined in with the good-humoured banter, mocking former justice secretary Michael Gove, his wife Sarah Vine and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
And he also aimed some shots at Mrs May, who sacked him as chancellor in her first reshuffle.
Before presenting the award, he said: " There won't be much time for chit chat, a bit like when Theresa and I last spoke."
Later, when talking about Mr Corbyn's performance at Prime Minister's Questions pre-Brexit vote, he added: "When evidence emerges of Theresa May's ardent support for the European Union he doesn't mention it, mind you neither did she."
Mrs May enjoyed a meteoric, if tumultuous, rise to No 10 in 2016, winning the Tory leadership and becoming PM after her main challenger Andrea Leadsom dropped out of the highly-fraught contest that followed David Cameron's resignation after the Brexit vote.
Mr Osborne later hit back at Mrs May's jibes at his expense, tweeting a photo of himself in a hi-vis jacket with the comment: "Back with its rightful owner."