A curious end to a strange day: UN treated to a typically bombastic Johnsonian speech

The Prime Minister’s address to the United Nations was two hours late. It wasn’t his fault; many of the global leaders speaking before him talked for too long.

Despite starting his day at 5.30am listening to the Supreme Court it was nearly 10pm when Boris Johnson got to his feet, but he was in his element.

The focus of his speech was artificial intelligence - “a giant dark thunder cloud waiting to burst”.

He warned the General Assembly that the world had to find the right balance between freedom and control of emerging technologies.

But it was all delivered in that bombastic Johnsonian way to which we in the UK have become accustomed; “What will synthetic biology stand for - restoring our livers and our eyes with miracle regeneration of the tissues, like some fantastic hangover cure? Or will it bring terrifying limbless chickens to our tables?”

The few UN members listen to Johnson discuss 'limbless chickens'. Credit: AP

He talked about Prometheus, Michelin starred restaurants in London, The Terminator, the London weather and how long Brexit was taking. At times there was laughter in the hall.

On TV, the listening diplomats looked less impressed, it's not always clear how well this kind of humour travels, especially subjected to simultaneous translation.

  • Boris Johnson compares the story of Prometheus to Brexit

It was a curious end to a strange day.

And then he was off: straight to JFK airport for the hastily rearranged flight to London and the resumption of Parliament, MPs waiting to peck at him like eagles at Prometheus.