Matthew Wright 7am - 10am
LBC Views: Boris got a warm welcome in Finland, but would it be the same in Finchley?
12 May 2022, 11:15 | Updated: 12 May 2022, 11:31
IT WAS early on Saturday morning when my phone rang. Would I be prepared to go to Finland where I would link up with Prime Minister Boris Johnson after he had met with the Finnish President in Helsinki, and then get an exclusive interview with the PM as he flew back to London.
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The answer was obvious – but there were a few hurdles to clear. Firstly, it was happening in FOUR days’ time and secondly we’d be stopping off in Sweden early in the morning en route.
It was quickly determined we’d decline the Swedish leg of the trip, do Wednesday morning’s breakfast show from Helsinki and then be waiting for the Prime Minister when he landed in Finland that afternoon. Any of you fortunate to know anything about the Finnish psyche will be aware orderliness and efficiency drive everything.
So, once me and my two colleagues were part of the ‘PM press pack’ we were on the move quickly. The speed of our arrival in the city would not have disgraced Mikka Hakkinen and the motorcycle escort and closed roads added a Presidential feel to the convoy.
But to keep up with the breath-taking schedule, the press corps are herded around in a way that is cross between farmers using electric cattle prods and teachers taking a disorderly class on a school trip.
There’s no room for error. Take a ‘comfort break’ at the wrong time, and the charabanc will roll on without you! If you don’t get your seat at the press conference the second you arrive, you’re demoted to the corridor.
But, it works. And it has to be said incredibly well.
When it was over it was time to board the PM’s plane which, while not like a Putin yacht with gold plated toilet fittings, is supremely comfortable – but it should be.
Everyone, including the phalanx of police protection officers and No. 10 press team, deserve a seat with a little extra leg room after the pace they are forced to keep up.
As for Boris, he clearly loves playing the role of global statesman – and it’s easy to see why.
With the pound falling, interest rates soaring and growth declining, what better than to be seen signing supposedly crucial defence accords with nations close to the aggressive Russian bear?
But think on this. As we screeched to a halt at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, a crowd of Fins had gathered and called out “We love you Boris!” and chanted his name as he posed for the cameras.
A warm welcome in Sweden and Finland … but would he get the same in Swindon or Finchley?