Peter Bingle believes Boris Johnson’s time has come. He is the Tory politician most likely to deliver all northern Brexit marginals whilst being the genuine voice of liberal England. He stands unchallenged.
There were many political commentators (me included) who thought the political career of Boris Johnson had ended prematurely but permanently when he resigned as Foreign Secretary. How wrong we all were…
The last few weeks have demonstrated yet again what a remarkable politician he is and, crucially, why he remains the Tory Party’s most popular and effective personality. The route to Number 10 has never looked more promising. Indeed, there is a growing inevitably about it.
Boris is a character. His out of control hair. His often dangerous cycling. His bizarre dress sense when jogging. This is no ordinary politician.
It is said that Frankie Howard scripted every ‘titter’ when performing. The same is true with Boris. Behind that amusingly shambolic political persona lurks a brilliant mind, huge ambition combined with an almost unique ability to connect with people from every class and ethnic background. The PM and most of her senior colleagues seem flat footed, rehearsed and dull in comparison.
People have short memories. When Boris announced that he was running for Mayor of London, the reaction of most ‘informed’ commentators was bemusement and scorn. (Modestly forbids me pointing out that I was one of the few who predicted he would win!) Yet, he defeated Ken not once but twice and was a great Mayor of London. Why? Because he had a bold, radical vision and was supported by two superb chiefs of staff, the late Sir Simon Milton and Sir Edward Lister who ensured his vision was delivered.
Boris was popular whilst Mayor with politicians of all political persuasions. He was inclusive, listened attentively and acted for the most part in a non-partisan manner. There are many London council leaders who wish he was still at City Hall.
One of Boris’s greatest strengths is the fact that it is almost important not to like him. He makes people laugh. London was a happier place when Boris was Mayor. City Hall was a happier place when Boris was Mayor.
The now infamous Daily Telegraph article was written to create an impact and it most certainly has. There is a genuine debate to be had over his choice of language but the right to annoy and offend is fundamental to our democratic process. What Boris didn’t expect was the quite imbecilic response of the Tory Party high command and his critics at Number 10. They have inadvertently restored Boris to his former place as the most popular politician in the country. A prime minister in waiting…
In the weeks before this year’s Tory Party conference in Birmingham, a critical battle for the heart and soul of the Tory Party is going to take place. The Chequers Brexit Plan has pitted the PM against mainstream Tory opinion and Brexit supporters in the country. Boris has positioned himself as their champion. The Battle of Birmingham could be bloody.
The biggest stumbling block to Boris’s political ambitions is the parliamentary Tory Party. In short, Tory MPs don’t like him. He has never been entirely comfortable or himself in the House of Commons. He will, therefore, need to mobilise Tory activists across the country to make his case to Tory MPs. Difficult but not impossible.
Boris is – to misquote WS Gilbert – a ‘most intriguing paradox’ but in these difficult times perhaps his time has finally come. He is the Tory politician most likely to deliver all those northern Brexit marginals whilst being the genuine voice of liberal England. Who else could do that? Nobody…