LONDON (AP) – â€œLove, Actuallyâ€ is all around this year in Britainâ€™s pre-Christmas election.
The 2003 romantic comedy about the love lives of assorted Londoners over the holiday season has played a surprisingly large role in the campaign for Thursday’s general election. It has inspired political ads from both Labour and the Conservatives, and â€œLove, Actuallyâ€ star Hugh Grant has been out on the campaign trail urging voters to oust Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Johnsonâ€™s Conservatives flooded social media Tuesday with an ad parodying the â€œLove, Actuallyâ€ scene in which Mark (Andrew Lincoln) stands at the door of secret crush Juliet (Keira Knightley), professing his love on a series of cue cards while her new husband sits obliviously inside.
In the political ad, Johnson stands on the threshold of a voter’s home, promising that if she votes Conservative â€œby this time next year, weâ€™ll have Brexit done â€¦ and we can move on.â€ The ad ends with an entreaty to â€œVote Conservative actually.â€
Johnson says he will lead Britain out of the European Union by the scheduled Jan. 31 deadline if he wins Thursday’s election.
Opposition Labour candidate Rosena Allin-Khan accused the Conservatives of ripping off her own similar â€œLove, Actuallyâ€ spoof, posted several weeks ago, in which she persuades a Conservative voter to change his mind.
The Conservative ad also sparked a flood of parodies, with rival parties and social media users replacing the writing on Johnsonâ€™s cards with less flattering slogans. Party campaigners probably wonâ€™t mind: The Conservative’s digital strategy throughout the campaign has been to get supporters and detractors alike talking about the party.
Former Justice Secretary David Gauke, who was expelled by Johnson for opposing his Brexit plan and is running Thursday as an independent, tweeted a photo of himself holding a card with the words â€œBrexit wonâ€™t get done, actually.â€
For many Britons, â€œLove, Actuallyâ€ has become a holiday season TV staple and a guilty pleasure. Some film fans cringe at its saccharine elements, like the adorable child, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who is helped by stepdad Liam Neeson to woo a classmate. But just as many cherish the scene in which Grant, as a boyish British prime minister, berates a boorish U.S. president played by Billy Bob Thornton.
That role helped make Grant a liberal heartthrob, and he has become increasingly political in real life, campaigning against press intrusion and the hacking of celebrities.
In this election, Grant has gone out on the campaign trail with non-Conservative candidates, urging electors to vote tactically to kick Johnsonâ€™s party out of office.
Grant conceded that the Conservative ad was â€œquite well done, very high production values.â€
â€œBut I did notice that one of the cards from the original film that he (Johnson) didnâ€™t hold up is the one where Andrew Lincoln held up a card saying â€˜because of Christmas you tell the truth,’â€œ Grant told the BBC. â€œAnd I just wonder if the spin doctors in the Tory party thought that was a card that wouldnâ€™t look too great in Boris Johnsonâ€™s hands.â€
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