Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
17 October 2019

Boris Johnson once vowed to “eat” compulsory ID if any government introduced it

Does the Prime Minister proposing photo ID for voting believe the law shouldn’t apply to him?

By Media Mole

Boris Johnson’s government has announced plans to make photo identification compulsory for voting — a move that has been denounced as an act of “voter suppression”. As campaigners and opposition parties have warned, working class and ethnic minority groups are less likely than others to have ID (and, conveniently, are also less likely to vote Conservative). 

Johnson, presumably, can sympathise with the revolt against compulsory voting — because he was once part of it. 

In 2004, writing as a Conservative MP, Johnson declared in the Daily Telegraph: “If I am ever asked, on the streets of London, or in any other venue, public or private, to produce my ID card as evidence that I am who I say I am, when I have done nothing wrong and when I am simply ambling along and breathing God’s fresh air like any other freeborn Englishman, then I will take that card out of my wallet and physically eat it in the presence of whatever emanation of the state has demanded that I produce it.”

Had the author of those words stolen Johnson’s identity? Or does the Prime Minister simply believe that the new law should not apply to him? Your mole awaits an explanation.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them