Boris Johnson Under Fire for Outrageous Joke about Thatcher and the Coal Mines

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under fire after a visit to Scotland Thursday. Johnson made a joke that has gone down the wrong way with many compatriots. “Shameful”, Scottish politicians call it.


Johnson had just visited a wind farm in Scotland’s Moray East on Thursday when some journalists asked him about the energy transition in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister replied that a lot of progress had already been made, adding a joke. “Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, who has closed a large number of coal mines across the country, we have started early and are now getting rid of that coal quickly,” he said with a laugh.

But the closure of the coal mines is not something to be laughed at by the Scots. It was the UK’s main industrial sector, and when Thatcher decided to close it, it led to massive strikes and violence across the UK. Many old mining sites in the country are still destroyed today, and unemployment is particularly high near them.

The criticism of the Scots on Johnson’s joke was therefore not tender. “Disgraceful,” Labor opposition leader Keir Starmer calls the “crude and insensitive” comment. “Lives and entire communities in Scotland have been devastated by Thatcher’s destruction of the coal industry, which had nothing to do with concern for the planet,” Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon added.

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