Returning from a surprise trip to Kyiv, the prime minister said the Ukrainians won the 2022 contest “fair and square”, and suggested the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) should reconsider.
In statement on Friday, the EBU revealed it had started “discussions” with the BBC about hosting the annual contest in the UK after concluding that Ukraine would not be able to fulfil “security and operational guarantees”.
Speaking at RAFT Brize Norton on Saturday, Mr Johnson said he believed it should be possible for the music contest to go ahead in the eastern European country despite intense fighting in the east of the country.
“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,” the prime minister told reporters.
“People are out in the streets eating in cafes and restaurants in a way that they weren’t a even few weeks ago”.
He added: “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 to have it.”
“I hope the European Broadcasting Union will recognise that. It’s a year away, it’s going to be fine by the time the European song contest comes round.”
The Ukrainian entry of Kalush Orchestra won the competition in Turin, Italy this year and it is traditional that the winning country hosts the event the following year.
However, the EBU has stated that following a “full assessment and feasibility study” they have concluded that the “security and operational guarantees” required to host the event cannot be fulfilled by Ukraine’s public broadcaster UA:PBC.
Mr Johnson’s remarks also come after a No 10 spokesperson told reporters on Friday that Ukraine’s victory in 2022 was “richly deserved, and as the rightful winner the government’s firm wish has been to see next year’s contest hosted there.”
But they added: “If the EBU decides that the competition can’t go ahead in Ukraine, we would of course welcome the opportunity to work closely with Ukraine and the BBC to host it here in the UK.
“But we would be committed to ensuring it overwhelmingly reflects Ukraine’s rich culture, heritage and creativity, as well as building on the ongoing partnership between our two countries.”