Boris Johnson has said he hopes Ukraine will be able to host next year’s Eurovision song contest, after the country was ruled out due to the war with Russia.
Ukraine won this year’s contest, but the event’s organisers said the 2023 edition could not go ahead in the war-torn country, with the UK being considered as a possible host.
But speaking to reporters at RAF Brize Norton after returning from an unannounced visit to Kyiv, the prime minister said he hoped the contest could go ahead in Ukraine.
He said: “The Ukrainians won the Eurovision Song Contest. I know we had a fantastic entry, I know we came second and I’d love it to be in this country.
“But the fact is that they won and they deserve to have it. I believe that they can have it and I believe that they should have it.
“I believe the Kyiv or any other safe Ukrainian city would be a fantastic place to have it.”
The BBC has been in talks with the European Broadcasting Union about hosting the event after the EBU ruled it could not go ahead in Ukraine as war rages in the country.
The move would be a break with the tradition of the winner hosting the following year’s event.
Ukrainian group Kalush Orchestra buoyed spirits at home when they stormed to victory in May. The UK was runner-up in the 2022 contest thanks to Sam Ryder’s performance of his song “Space Man”.
Ukraine’s Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko, as well the country’s three previous winners, pushed back against the EBU’s decision, arguing that holding the contest in Ukraine would send a “strong signal” of support.
British Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries wrote on Twitter it was “devastating” that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had “cast any doubt over whether Eurovision could be held in Ukraine next year”.
Russian forces have switched their focus to the Donbas after a series of setbacks early in the war, including the failure to seize Ukraine’s capital.
Mr Johnson said that Kyiv appeared “far more lively” than it had been.
“I have just been to Kyiv. I won’t say it is completely jiving and buzzing and popping but it is far, far more lively.
“People are much more confident. People are out in the streets eating in cafes and restaurants in a way that they weren’t a even few weeks ago,” he said.