Comedian and political activist Mark Thomas drew cheers and applause from students when he tore into Prime Minister Boris Johnson at their graduation ceremony.
During the rant inside the hallowed Canterbury Cathedral the stand-up comedian, who was wearing a red gown and mortarboard after being awarded an honorary doctorate of arts from the University of Kent, accused Mr Johnson of being “lying, corrupt, narcissistic, inept” and called for him to be “publicly horse-whipped once a week, every week touring around the towns and cities of the UK”.
He began his talk on Thursday fairly low-key by saying: “I’ve been asked to give a few words of advice. I genuinely don’t know that much. DMs [Doc Martens boots] are overpriced. Hobnobs are over-valued.”
Then he let the bile flow.
“Boris Johnson is a venal, lying, corrupt, narcissistic, inept, totally money-grabbing evil man who should never have been allowed near power. Never!”
To cheers from the knave, he carried on: “That man should be publicly horse-whipped once a week, every week touring the towns and cities of the UK.
“He has brought shame and disrespect to our country. He has increased racism, violence and division.”
Thumping the lectern the 59-year-old comic added: “He has insisted on corrupting our country and we will not have it!”
After a pause he went on: “I was going to do a non-controversial set but the thing about Johnson which got me more than anything is the fact he values himself and his small cabal, the rich elites and their enrichment and his own narcissism, above everything else.”
Ending the one minute 38 second tirade, he said: “The one thing that Covid has taught us is that we are dependant upon each other.”
The anti-Boris outburst has been watched 1.2 million times since it was first posted on social media on Saturday morning.
In a tweet, Conservative MP Neil O’Brien commented: “Universities are not really politically neutral places any more, which is a shame.”
In reply, one wrote: “They never were. Are you politically neutral or did you just forget to put the word ‘Conservative’ on your Twitter bio?”
Another added: “He’s a comedian giving a thank-you speech for an honorary degree and not involved in working and teaching there. Universities should NEVER be afraid to call out political corruption and oppression, be it from the left or right.”
A third remarked: “If you were familiar with Mark Thomas’s work you would know he’d given New Labour a firm kicking for their authoritarian traits as well. So yes, he is politically neutral because he calls both sides out.”
Mark Thomas is best known for his satire, political stunts and Channel 4 show The Mark Thomas Comedy Product.
In a Tweet he told his 132,000 followers: “Thank you to everyone who mentioned my doctorate speech at Canterbury Cathedral. The speech as you can see was largely unplanned and somewhat improvised. Congrats to everyone who received their degrees MAs and PhDs. Onwards xx”
Former Canterbury City Council Lib Dem councillor Alex Perkins replied: “It was truly wonderful and very well received. Definitely a joy. It put a spring in my step and I felt like someone had changed my batteries. Thank you!”
Boris Johnson resigned just over a week ago as Tory party leader amid a string of high-profile scandals but is expected to remain as Prime Minister until early September.