Watch the full Thursday interview with Boris Johnson and ITV News Deputy Editor Anushka Asthana
As the pressure on Boris Johnson increases and his government is hit with allegations of parties during lockdown and a senior Tory's claims of bullying by the party's whips, body language expert Judi James, author of The Body Language Bible: The Hidden Meaning Behind People's Gestures and Expressions, took a look at the prime minister's interview this morning to assess just how he is faring
Unlike Boris Johnson's distraught and possibly tearful delivery on Tuesday and his ebullient body language come-back during Wednesday’s PMQs, today produced yet another version of the PM, or maybe three, as we saw him looking evasive and wary over the blackmail claims; weary but determined as he took the broken record route of trying to stick to his desired message on Covid, and then re-energised and more keenly engaged when talking about the Russian problem.
Boris Johnson bowed his head and breathes heavily as he is asked about saying sorry to the Queen in an interview on Tuesday
By wearing a mask Boris doesn’t hide his emotions, he emphasizes them.
The eyes are the most revealing body part and that is where our focus is directed, so that subtler details and micro-gestures are magnified.
He also spoke with his hands behind his back like a visiting consultant in the medical facility he was touring and the lack of gesticulation again helped us to study the message from his eyes and the alterations in his breathing.
Anxiety, stress or irritation can produce adrenalin which in turn produces shallower breathing and/or a rapid blink rate and Boris showed signs of both of these responses.
He began by leaning forward slightly in a politely enquiring mode and his speedy ‘yes’ to the initial question about hearing of the claims of bullying came swiftly.
Boris performed some sharp flurries of blinks as words like ‘threatened’ ‘money withdrawn’ and ‘blackmail’ were used, with the blinking looking like a form of cut-off to conceal the eye expression. Asked "were those tactics used," Boris performs what looks like a gesture of authority by rising up onto his toes and down again.
He shakes his head in a denial gesture as he says "I see no evidence…" and then we have the verbal swerve to regain control of the message as he says "What I am focused on…", using a head baton gesture to his right as though trying to steer round the challenging questions. He tries to re-boot once he is on-message but his ‘emphatic’ hand gestures, like a one-handed swipe look lacking in congruence.
When he is asked if he will look for evidence of the bullying he answers in the affirmative but his head shakes from side to side.
This could signal a sense of ‘why would we not?’ but it looks incongruent as a display signal. With the insistent grilling not showing signs of ending, Boris begins to look to his right as though checking an escape route.
Asked about being in a ‘bullish mood’ he releases what looks like a small snort or pant that escapes from the top of his mask, making a lock of his hair billow.
His breathing becomes heavier and his head performs a series of small bounces.
When the word ‘resign’ is thrown at him his head reels back and his eye turn to the side again as though looking for help, advice or a method of escape. Both Boris and the interviewer then talk over one another for a few moments, each on a different subject.
He tries to close the interview down by walking off but returns with what looks like a more enthusiastic eye expression when asked about the Ukraine.
Here he begins to talk like a leader again with a thoughtful, earnest delivery and a somber eye expression.