Student protests Boris Johnson’s appearance at graduation ceremony

Photo: Ali West
Photo: Ali West
Photo: Ali West

A student supporting Britain’s membership of the EU has protested the appearance of Boris Johnson at today’s graduation ceremony by holding up a “Vote Remain” sign on stage.

Ali West, an American/Canadian fourth year St Andrews student, tweeted the image saying, “@BorisJohnson was in the audience at my graduation today, so naturally I had some thoughts. #voteremain #strongerin”.

Mr Johnson, the leading campaigner for a “Leave” vote in today’s referendum on EU membership, was in the audience for the graduation of his eldest daughter, Laura Johnson Wheeler, which took place on the same day.

Speaking to The Saint, Ms West said, “Graduations are not apolitical and never have been.

“In the US, many students decorate their mortarboards with messages about current issues, and invited speakers are often political leaders. I have lived in the UK for half a decade now, and for a multitude of reasons, I feel strongly that leaving the EU would be a grave mistake.

“This referendum was ill-conceived from the start and its rhetoric has been craven.”

“Mr. Johnson, in particular, has continually spread misinformation about the EU for his own political gain, and I could not pass up the chance to tell him in no uncertain terms what I and many of my fellow international students think of his behaviour.”

Mr Johnson also unfurled his own “last chance to vote poster” while sitting in the audience, according to The Daily Record.

A witness told the paper, “It was all done very much tongue in cheek. Both posters got a huge cheer and round of applause. Boris wasn’t telling people who to vote for, just for them to get out there and make the effort.”

The referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU takes place today (June 23).


  1. Boris didn’t hold up anything. While I agree it is important to send a strong message that many people disagree with him and misinformation is not okay, a graduation ceremony is not the place for that message. I hope no one feels that it put a damper on what is supposed to be a very special day. By all means give him a piece of your mind, but that wasn’t the place to do it. Just because the opportunity presented itself doesn’t mean it was appropriate and the thoughts of other students there should have be taken more into consideration before pulling a stunt like that.

  2. This is such a distasteful thing to do. He was there for his daughter and this isn’t an appropriate platform for her to be voicing her political beliefs. This is the UK, not the US.

    This just screams of attention-seeking behaviour, even more so when you know that Ali posted this photo on her Facebook for the likes.

    • Well, if you read the article and saw the photo, you’d realise that her education was right here at the University of St Andrews.

      Als, tarring all of “the younger generation” with the same brush on the brash actions of one student? That shows to me that you don’t seem to have much in the way of brains yourself.

  3. Good move to use a graduation ceremony to protest: a longstanding tradition if I recall from my own college days

  4. I’m disgusted by this.

    Way to make this occasion all about yourself and your unnecessary opinions. I’m all for Remain but this just shows your immaturity and disrespect to the academic institution – as well as your fellow peers and graduates – which awarded your degree.

    You would think that having spent 5 years in the UK you would have picked up some decorum.


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