December 5, 2019
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Yorkshire police chief lashes out at BoJo for using new recruits as ‘backdrop’ for political speech Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under fire from a Yorkshire police chief, who says the premier used his police recruits as a “backdrop” for a partisan political speech.

On a visit to police training facilities in West Yorkshire to mark a new recruitment drive on Thursday, the PM launched into polemics about Brexit, slamming his Labor rival Jeremy Corbyn and rehashing the previous days’ talking points about the need for a new election – flanked by several dozen police trainees. A political speech was not on the agenda, however, says West Yorkshire Chief Constable John Robins.

“We had no prior knowledge that the speech would be broadened to other issues until it was delivered,” Robins said in a statement on Friday, adding he was under the impression that “any involvement of our officers [would be] solely about police officer recruitment.”

While Robins said he was pleased his force was chosen to be the “focal point” of the recruitment campaign, his enthusiasm was “overshadowed” by the media coverage of the event, and Johnson’s speech.

I was therefore disappointed to see my police officers as a backdrop to the part of the speech that was not related to recruitment.

John Apter, the national chairman of the Police Federation in England and Wales, said the PM’s use of police recruits to bolster “a political speech” surprised him, telling the Times it was “the wrong decision.”

Johnson’s political opposition also made hay out of the faux pas, with the Labour chairwoman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, Yvette Cooper, dubbing it “an abuse of power.”

“They have a job to do here in West Yorks, and they train and work hard for the whole community – completely unacceptable to use them in this way,” Cooper told the Daily Mail.

It’s been a tough week for Johnson, facing an internal rebellion from fellow Tories, an outright Conservative defection which dashed his party’s narrow majority, as well as a series of defeats in parliament, where opposition politicians have obstructed his hasty approach to Brexit. The West Yorkshire police can now be added to the heap of critics.

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Conrad Contributor