IT’S TIME FOR BORIS
IN THE MINDS of many, the political career of the Right Honourable Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip was effectively over when he announced, against all expectation, that he would not run for the leadership of the Conservative Party in June 2016. This followed the decision of his erstwhile supporter Michael Gove to withdraw his support for Johnson at the last moment, having concluded that he ‘cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead’. The Daily Telegraph described this reversal as ‘the most spectacular political assassination in a generation’.
Fortunately, its effects weren’t permanent. Boris is back from the dead. And Spear’s backs his candidacy to be the next leader of the party and, by extension, the next prime minister of this country.
First, there is no doubt that Johnson has the stomach to complete the task of Brexit, which has already claimed the scalp of one occupant of Number 10. All to the good – from the Spear’s perspective – is that despite being the face of the Brexit campaign in 2016, Boris has never been an anti-European obsessive. Detractors may argue that he backed Leave only to further his own narrow political ambitions; Spear’s does not agree.
What is important is that Johnson approaches the Brexit issue from a pragmatic perspective but, at the same time, clearly believes in it – unlike some of his colleagues who perceive it as an obligation placed on legislators by the ‘ignorant’ masses.
Boris can and will implement Brexit and that is a good thing, since the uncertainty over Britain’s departure from the EU is one of the clouds that needs to be lifted from our lives. Get it done, as the chancellor Philip Hammond has said on more than one occasion, and that will release a wall of investment from business which is currently stockpiling its cash.
But another, much darker cloud still needs to be lifted from Britain – the menace of Jeremy Corbyn, whose hard-left Labour Party poses a perilous threat to the long-term prosperity of the country. Until Corbyn is replaced by a more moderate, credible leader – until Labour saves itself from the quagmire of socialistic populism – he is a grave risk to Britain. The salient point in Johnson’s favour is that if there is anyone in the Conservative Party who can beat Corbyn, it is him. Don’t forget, he managed to get the Labour-backing capital to vote him in twice as mayor of London, defeating another old-left populist, Ken Livingstone.
But whoever next leads the Conservatives doesn’t just have to have Corbyn and his bankrupt collection of Marxist cronies to contend with: there is also the potentially existential threat to the Conservatives posed by the Brexit Party. Again, if there is anyone who can overshadow Nigel Farage – both as a communicator and in terms of commitment to Brexit – it is Johnson.
And it’s not just Johnson’s abilities as an orator that set him apart from the adenoidal pack of contenders. He has charm in abundance: as Rory Stewart, his extremely able rival for the Tory leadership who is interviewed in this edition of Spear’s, has himself noted, it’s ‘impossible to be angry at’ Boris.
Johnson also has influential friends, including Donald Trump, the US president. Having an occupant of the White House who takes your phone calls with a sympathetic ear, is an undoubted benefit, especially when the man in question is Trump.
That Johnson is also a genuine One Nation Tory – he wouldn’t have won in London otherwise – and has long espoused progressive views on the environment and social matters is all the more important. Could he be the man to make Trump recognise the danger of climate change, when so many others, including the Prince of Wales, have tried and failed? If anyone can it’s Boris.
Nor will Johnson be afraid of inviting the most talented individuals to join him in his cabinet: one of the benefits of having an egomaniac in Number 10. We already know he’ll be a good delegator: with a properly talented cabinet, that should be a boon for government.
For these reasons and more, Spear’s backs Boris. Exit Theresa, pursued by a bear.