Boris Johnson has been accused of faking crowds at his campaign launch after photos emerged seeming to show huge open spaces around the supporters.
The Prime Minister launched the Conservative Party election campaign at the NEC in the West Midlands on Wednesday night, urging voters to “come with us”.
He spoke to cheers from party members and activists, with some reports suggesting that there were only 500 handpicked members at the launch.
Images released show a packed crowd of supporters, even though the NEC hall was only about a third full.
Fake promises to get Brexit done— David Schneider (@davidschneider) November 7, 2019
Fake numbers of hospitals being built
Fake NHS stats
Fake promises on schools
Fake Brexit deadlines
Fake statements on free trade and free ports
All in front of a fake large crowd.
Welcome to the Tory Campaign Launch. pic.twitter.com/XOtV8LgRd9
Some critics compared the apparently careful management of images to make it appear as if Mr Johnson was addressing a packed crowd of supporters to US President Donald Trump’s choreographed appearances.
Actor and writer David Schneider shared a picture with the caption: “Fake promises to get Brexit done, Fake numbers of hospitals being built, Fake NHS stats, Fake promises on schools, Fake Brexit deadlines, Fake statements on free trade and free ports, Faked videos, Faked adverts, All in front of a fake large crowd. Welcome to the Tory Campaign Launch.”
Journalist Paul Mason wrote: “Morning, media students: this is a shot of Boris Johnson's launch event.
“Now watch last night's TV news coverage of it and repeat after me "I must not manufacture consent"....”
Morning, media students: this is a shot of Boris Johnson's launch event. Now watch last night's TV news coverage of it and repeat after me "I must not manufacture consent".... pic.twitter.com/9XPoOcAaNp— Paul Mason (@paulmasonnews) November 7, 2019
Activists and supporters also wore t-shirts sporting slogans including “20,000 more police officers” and “Get Brexit Done” in another move condemned by critics who said they had all been told to wear the clothing which was handed out at the launch.
Journalists at the launch also pointed out the contrast between the reality of the launch and how it appeared on television.
Worth pointing out the room is really quite empty. Crowd made up of Tory members pic.twitter.com/93yVYJu3jW— Arj Singh (@singharj) November 6, 2019
But looks good and full on telly..... pic.twitter.com/lp35rSdZZ4— Arj Singh (@singharj) November 6, 2019
Half an hour before the Prime Minister’s arrival, a handful of demonstrators carrying Stand Up To Racism posters and chanting “Boris Johnson, hear us say, refugees here to stay” and “no to austerity” were escorted out by security.
The chants turned to “Tory scum, out of Brum” as they were moved outside.
Virgin Train delays also put a dampener on the evening, leaving senior cabinet ministers stuck at Birmingham International Station.