Johnson met with House and Senate GOP leadership and other Republican lawmakers on Tuesday to lobby support for the U.S. to sustain aid to Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion. The future of American aid to Ukraine has been up in the air since Republicans took control of the House, amid resistance from some members, and a sustained push of pro-Russia talking points from far-right personalities like Fox News’ Carlson.
“I’ve been amazed and horrified by how many people are frightened of a guy called Tucker Carlson,” Johnson said Wednesday during a discussion at the Atlantic Council think tank. “Has anybody heard of Tucker Carlson? What is it with this guy?”
“All these wonderful Republicans seem somehow intimidated by his perspective,” he said, adding that he was “struck by how often this comes up.”
“Bad ideas,” Johnson said, are “starting to infect some of the thinking around the world” about what Russian President Vladimir Putin stands for and believes in.
“It’s a disaster,” Johnson said. “He stands for war, aggression, systematic murder, rape and destruction. That’s what he stands for.”
⚡️@BorisJohnson: “Has anyone heard of a guy called @TuckerCarlson?”
“[His] bad ideas are starting to infect thinking around the world about what Putin stands for...[Putin] stands for war, aggression systematic murder, rape and destruction.” pic.twitter.com/69waqx4dpt
— Andrew D'Anieri (@andrew_danieri) February 1, 2023
Johnson, who led the U.K. when Russia first invaded Ukraine, was a strong supporter of the latter during his tenure. He stepped down as prime minister in September following multiple scandals. Downing Street has distanced itself from Johnson’s U.S. trip, saying the former prime minister is acting in his own capacity.
Carlson, who has a history of siding with Russia, has escalated his pro-Russia and anti-Ukraine rhetoric since the invasion last February, repeatedly parroting Kremlin propaganda and earning a rapport with Russian state media.
He routinely vilifies the U.S. government for sending aid to Ukraine and pushes conspiratorial claims that support his messaging. In December, when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the U.S. in a bid for continued aid, Carlson complained that he was “dressed like the manager of a strip club” and said it was “humiliating” that he was allowed to address Congress.