Churchillian rhetoric, Trump-style posturing and sudden moments of bashful shyness: MailOnline body language expert Judi James on Boris’s big pitch for PM
Boris Johnson channeled his inner Donald Trump as he launched his Tory leadership bid today – but he looked down after he promised to leave the EU on October 31, one of Britain’s top body language experts revealed today.
The favourite to replace Theresa May was so passionate as he set out his vision for Brexit it looked like he was ‘flinging invisible objects back towards the far wall’, says Judi James.
He aped his friend Donald Trump as he declared ‘Kick the can again and we kick the bucket’ – before borrowing a classic pointing gesture to hammer it home.
But with his new girlfriend Carrie Symonds watching from the audience there were moments of shyness, says Ms James, who noticed ‘he started tidying his lectern and reaching for some water’ when he promised to leave the EU on October 31, which she described as ‘incongruence’.
She added: ‘His steepled brows signaled serious concern as his eyes scanned his audience’.
Below is Judi James’ description of events:
Trumpian: Body language expert Judi James says that this gesture from Boris is straight from the President’s playbook as he hammered home: ‘Kick the can again and we kick the bucket’
Churchillian: Britain’s greatest Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously knew how to avoid negative body language – and Boris tried to same
Incongruence: Boris promised to take the UK out of the EU by October 31 – but looked down rather than continuing his gaze into the audience, which Ms James says appeared out of place with his message
Bashful: The former Foreign Secretary looked shy at times during the event in central London today
Steepled brows: Judi James says that his arched eyebrows signaled ‘serious concern’ as his eyes scanned his audience
Boris was aggressive as he hammered home his promises to deliver Brexit and unite the Tory party
By Judi James for MailOnline
With new girlfriend Carrie watching in the audience, Boris’s body language for this leadership speech appeared a cross between Churchillian non-verbal rhetoric; some Trump-style posturing and one-dimensional gesticulation, and sudden moments of what looked very much like bashful shyness.
His steepled brows signaled serious concern as his eyes scanned his audience from beneath the new, shorter blonde thatch.
Overall his gestures made it look as though he was on a cricket pitch: lots of flinging and catching and rituals that suggested he was flinging invisible objects back towards the far wall.
These gestures were congruent with his narrative that was all about the ‘three times rejected proposal’ and the idea of a No Deal Brexit. Unlike several of his opponents in this leadership race his gestures did come just before his words took form which should be a sign of an emotional and an intellectual match. His beachball hand gesture, clutched around chest height, would have sent subliminal signals of him being a safe pair of hands and when he rose onto his toes when he spoke of preparing for a No Deal Brexit he implied he was doing just that.
His Trump moment came with his US presidential-style slogan as, like Trump, he delivered his simplistic punchline for the masses along with a simplistic, emphatic hand gesture. ‘Kick the can again and we kick the bucket’ was his line and he delivered it with the classic Trump precision gesture with the thumb and index finger forming a large ‘O’ shape.
Like most of his opponents though, there were moments of incongruence. When he delivered his line ‘We must leave the EU on October 31 he performed a cut-off gesture, looking down straight after rather than studying the audience and allowing them to see his eye expression.
Instead he started tidying his lectern and reaching for some water, with this acted delay elongating his applause but with the downward gaze meaning his viewers missed out on the chance to look for signs of authenticity and genuine intent.
At other times he looked shy and showed moments of doubt, says Judi James
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