Boris Johnson discusses democracy on stage at Gaston Hall
Category: Campus Life

Title: Boris Johnson at Georgetown: A Day Like Many Others As a Hoya

Author: Alex Johnson (C'25)
Date Published: May 1, 2024

From Hillary Clinton to Elizabeth Warren to Mike Pence and Stephen Breyer, the opportunity to hear from esteemed political figures is one of Georgetown’s unique perks. Throughout my time at Georgetown, countless political figures who I had grown up reading Gaston Hall being set up for speaker Boris Johnsonabout or seeing on the news have come to campus to share their stories and expertise. This other week, I had the pleasure of hearing from former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Gaston Hall at an event hosted by the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service.

What I love about these discussions at Georgetown is that the conversations are always frank. 

At Georgetown, I have heard the most honest, straightforward, and impactful statements from political figures, and Boris Johnson was no different. I didn’t agree with everything he had to say, but it was exciting to hear unvarnished opinions about world politics from a former world leader. While he covered a lot of ground, these are the parts of his moderate discussion I found most interesting.


To start the discussion, Johnson was asked to “make the case for democracy.” Johnson argued that democracy is both morally right and produces the greatest prosperity. He pointed to the UK’s ability to quickly research and manufacture an effective COVID-19 vaccine, suggesting that that type of progress and innovation could only happen in a democracy. I found his most interesting statement to be: “Democracy is the worst system in the world except for the others.” It acknowledges that the practice of democracBoris Johnson discusses democracy on stage at Gaston Hally is often difficult and reflects on its failures while continuing to emphasize its importance.


Event invitation and announcement for speaker, Boris JohnsonJohnson emphasized the importance of investing in Ukraine’s security, stating, “There is no more effective way in investing in Western security than in investing in Ukraine.” He maintained that American support has been integral to Ukraine, suggesting that Ukraine’s response to Russia would have been very different without it.

One of the best parts of Georgetown’s speakers is that students get to ask them complicated questions and receive honest answers — it was no different with Johnson. From interrogating Johnson about the British Museum’s Greek artifacts to posing the possibility of Scottish independence, the former prime minister touched on a range of pressing issues. Whether I was hearing Johnson defend the British Museum’s collection of Greek artifacts — he believes that the return of artifacts would destroy great cultural institutions — or state that he would respect the outcome of a referendum for Scottish independence, I felt incredibly lucky to hear the thoughts and opinions of such a prominent world leader. 

As a student studying politics — and as someone who just studied abroad in the United Kingdom — it is always exciting to hear perspectives that I don’t have access to in the news or textbooks. In classes such as Comparative Political Systems and International Security, we talk about the European Union or the war in Ukraine. At Georgetown, it is possBoris Johnson sitting on stage at Gaston Hall for his discussion on democracy with GU Politicsible to hear firsthand from world leaders about the same subjects. Further, I was excited to apply my experience studying abroad to the talk with Boris Johnson, as it allowed me to gain new perspectives on many issues that I had witnessed while in Scotland.

Without a doubt, the opportunity to hear from leaders like former Prime Minister Johnson is one of the most unique aspects of attending Georgetown. All students, whether current or prospective, should prioritize this opportunity when they are on the Hilltop.


Alex is a Georgetown Storyteller and a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, where he is majoring in government and minoring in religion, ethics, and world affairs.