In Dallas, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson calls for Ukraine support


Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson swung through Dallas Monday to thank Americans for supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia. He insisted that backing Ukraine was critical to maintaining democracy around the world.

“I’m here to say thanks, but also stick with it,” Johnson said during a stop at The Dallas Morning News’ editorial board.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he continued. “If we don’t do this now, [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin is going to do worse things.”

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Johnson’s Dallas trip included a visit with former President George W. Bush, where the two former world leaders talked about the war in Ukraine before a lighter conversation about art, one of Bush’s post-presidency passions.

On Tuesday, Johnson is scheduled to meet with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in Austin, where the two will discuss economic development.

The former prime minister also led a Monday lunch discussion sponsored by the Center for European Policy Analysis, where he was joined by Sen. John Cornyn and former NATO ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison. The CEPA was formed to “ensure strong transatlantic alliances” rooted in democratic principles.

Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks with The Dallas Morning News Editorial Board on Monday, May 22, 2023, in Dallas.(Elías Valverde II / Staff Photographer)

At the Crescent Club luncheon, Johnson said defeating Russia in Ukraine was important to stop future assaults on democracy, including fears that China will invade Taiwan.

“Putin’s conquest’s of Ukraine, had it happened, would have sent an immediate signal around the world that we’re not prepared to stick up for democracy,” Johnson said at the lunch. “It would have been terrible in its ramifications for Southeast Asia, in the South China Sea, for over the areas of attention and potential conflict between the great powers in the decades to come.”

Johnson said because of help from the United States, Russia would fail in Ukraine.

“Putin has failed and he’s going to be defeated,” he said. “The message I want to get over to you today…is that you’re backing the right horse. Ukraine is going to win.”

Since the war in Ukraine began, the United States appropriated at least $113 billion for military and humanitarian assistance.

“All that remains is to make sure that we do not lose that sense of urgency, that we do not get Ukraine fatigue, that we have the strategic resolve to stick with the Ukrainians for as long as it takes,” he said at the lunch.

After the lunch, Cornyn told The News that it was important to continue aid to Ukraine.

He addressed the issue of Ukraine fatigue in March.

“I’ve heard from my constituents back home in Texas who are deeply concerned about what these costs will mean here at home,” Cornyn said on the Senate floor on the anniversary of the invasion. “The point that keeps getting lost in this war is that a Ukrainian victory is in our national interest. … The most effective way to keep American troops out of the line of fire is to help the Ukrainians stop Putin now, before his conquest moves even further west.”

On Monday, Cornyn said President Joe Biden would have to show “presidential leadership in order to keep America focused on why Ukraine is in our national interest.”

“There remains broad bipartisan support in Congress, but the American people need to hear from the President of the United States,” Cornyn said. “He’s got the bully pulpit.”

His visit to Dallas was a first for Johnson, the former journalist and London mayor who was born in New York.

Johnson served as prime minister from July 24, 2019, to Sept. 6, 2022, and was instrumental in Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. His administration was plagued by scandal, including the “partygate” controversy involving reports of parties attended by conservatives and government officials at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when restrictions on such activities were in place.

When asked Monday whether Brexit was the right policy decision, Johnson said: “It’s done some amazing things, but it’s still too early to say.”

As for his first visit to Dallas, Johnson praised the weather and was taken aback when told it was rather cool for Texas standards.

At both stops Johnson told a story about how as a reporter he tried to get Bush, then the Texas governor, to give him a scoop about a presidential run.

As Johnson tells it, he was wearing his wife’s watch, which contained a picture of the late Argentine Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) walks through The Dallas Morning News newsroom after meeting with editorial board on Monday, May 22, 2023, in Dallas.(Elías Valverde II / Staff Photographer)

“He said that in Texas they took a very dim view of communism,” Johnson said. “I was so flustered by this brilliant remark that I lost my train of thought and I didn’t get the scoop.”

Johnson told The News that he was interested in seeing the sights of Dallas, including those featured in the famous TV show.

“I want to see the place where they shot J.R.,” he said.