October 8, 2017

Boris’ Last Stand

Boris Johnson has revealed his true character; one defined by hypocrisy, ineffectiveness and opportunism. He must never become Prime Minister, says William Walter. 

Boris Johnson has many talents. His undoubted intelligence, unbridled ambition, unique brand of charisma and loveable character all serve him well. They helped see him elected to two successful terms as mayor of London – and in doing so overcome the city’s entrenched leaning towards Labour. They saw him elected to Parliament, first as MP for Henley in 2001 and subsequently as MP for Uxbridge in 2016. And, most significantly, they saw him deliver the crucial swing in favour of Brexit during last year’s referendum. Irrespective of which side of the Brexit debate you fall, history will undoubtedly remember his crucial role in determining the outcome of that historic decision.

In spite of these qualities, however, the past 18 months have seen a different side of Boris’ character come to the fore. A character defined by hypocrisy, ineffectiveness and opportunism.

Perhaps the most brazen example was the revelation that his decision to lead the Vote Leave campaign was borne out not by an entrenched sense of political ideology or belief, but merely as a convenient means by which to strengthen his chances of leading the Conservative Party. Calculating that the remain campaign would secure the vote, he would successfully curry favour among Eurosceptic party members and MPs, while seeing the UK continue its membership of the European Union. In doing so he would position himself for a future bid to be Party leader and, ultimately, Prime Minister.

Heralding his role in the out campaign, while also burnishing his credentials as a luminary and competent administrator who as London mayor presided over the triumphant London Olympics, while also delivering major improvements to London’s transport network, he was returned to Parliament in what was seen as the next logical step in his ambition to secure the keys to 10 Downing Street. Despite being seen as the front runner in the subsequent leadership election in the wake of Cameron’s resignation, a combination of political skulduggery and division saw him withdraw his candidacy.

With Theresa May installed as Prime Minister, Johnson was promoted to Cabinet as Foreign Secretary. May anticipated that a combination of his high-profile and grasp of foreign relations he would help draw positive attention to the Government’s work overseas.

But, rather than growing an international fan base, Boris seems to be viewed as an oafish, embarrassing eccentric, naïve to the political sensitivities in other parts of the world. The most recent example came less than a fortnight ago when, while in Yangon, Myanmar, he began to recite ‘The Road to Mandalay’, a colonial era poem by Rudyard Kippling. Our embarrassed ambassador, Andrew Patrick, was forced to hurriedly intervene.

Another example also came last month when he quipped that the city of Sirte in Libya might become a new Dubai once “the dead bodies” have been removed. The comments were met by criticism from around the world.

But most significant has been his unguarded shots at the European Union, it’s officials and their Brexit negotiating positions. A recent example came last July when Johnson commented that European officials could ‘go whistle’ regarding their proposed settlement costs for the UK’s divorce bill from the European Union. The unsolicited comments, while they may be welcomed by some, serve only to entrench the EU’s position and alienate the very European officials that will be signing off on any Brexit deal we might strike.

In addition to these indiscretions, and following the Queen’s Speech in June, Johnson was put forward to appear on BBC Radio 4’s Eddie Mair show. The interview saw him posed with a series of questions regarding the Queen’s speech. The excruciating interview saw the Foreign Secretary stumble from question to question, unable to answer even basic questions surrounding the contents of the speech.

With errors and misjudgements such as these, Theresa May has come under increasing pressure both from Tory backbenchers and Cabinet colleagues to sack the Foreign Secretary.

Aware of his vulnerable position, and in yet another example of his self-interest and opportunism, rather than expressing humility over his errors and indiscretions, Boris has sought to undermine the Government’s negotiating position and further destabilise Theresa May’s government. In this, ‘Boris’ last stand’, his reckoning is that by promoting his own ‘red lines’ and advocating a tougher stance on the Brexit negotiations he will keep his ambitions for leadership alive by further enforcing his popularity among the Party’s grassroots, while also signalling to the Prime Minister the potential damage he is can wreak on the backbenches.

With the debate surrounding Johnson’s continued role in Government and the vulnerability of Theresa May’s leadership continuing to thunder on in this weekend’s papers, it is worth looking at the broader issue at stake: Brexit. To deliver it successfully, and to avoid the economic ruin it has the capacity to deliver, it must be led by a leader not consumed with self-interest, who has a grasp of the detail, who is able to negotiate effectively, but, above all, it must be led by one whose character is marked by courage and conviction. Boris is not that man.

1.95 avg. rating (39% score) - 56 votes
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William Walter
William Walter is the Founder and Editor of Comment Central. He began his career in Parliament working for three Conservative MPs — the then Shadow Minister for Universities & Skills, Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Opposition Treasury whip, James Duddridge MP, and former Shadow Pensions Minister, Nigel Waterson MP. In addition to his Parliamentary work he has also written for a range of publications, including: The Daily Telegraph, City AM, Metro and Conservative Home.
  • Thank you for that update, Friend Cat! I am now hopeful that, by the end of the year, the figure will be more than 130% of Our Climate Scientists.

  • That clearly ridiculous figure has now been updated.

    It is now been verified as being 117.247% of all Climate Scientists…

    So comforting to have this degree of accuracy.

  • boptah

    If Boris was so smart he would not have capitulated to the ECJ . He is dead in the eyes of true patriots.

  • John M

    I know both Westminster politicos and media are all in frenzy at the moment, and most of them are desperate to be the one to claim Boris’ political scalp, but this whole “outrage” over Johnson’s Libya comments are a pathetic and purely artificial piece of fake news to everyone outside Westminster.

    Can anyone state honestly that Johnson’s comments were in any way innacurate? Libya has been in a state of continual unrest ever since ‘we’ toppled Gaddafi, and is governed by a particularly unpleasent, undemocratic and brutal group of Islamists whose single redeeming feature is that they are not called Gaddafi and are happy to supply oil to the West.

    Conflict is rife. There are “dead bodies” everywhere, every day. What is inaccurate or outrageous about pointing out the bleeding obvious?

  • Dougie

    I’m afraid this is drivel, William. To take just one point, Johnson was in Myanmar last January, not a fortnight ago. Have you any evidence that anyone there, other than our ambassador, was offended? In fact, the ambassador showed exactly why the FCO has been such a disaster for Britain over the past 50 years. He exemplifies the “cringe” approach to British history that the FCO has adopted (exemplified by its willing subjugation to the EU), despite which, Britain is still much admired in much of “abroad”. Clearly, neither you nor the ambassador has reread Road to Mandalay (assuming you’ve ever read it in the first place). It is not a paean to Empire but, rather, a description of the common soldiery’s affection and respect for the East. In quoting the lines about temple bells, Johnson showed a knowledge and understanding of the culture of Myanmar that his hosts would have appreciated.

  • Prompt Critical

    It’s not

    Boris’

    It’s

    Boris’s

  • lizmilton

    The documentary evidence on

    Reject-the-Eudotcodotuk

    Is well worth looking at…confirmation that that the EU and ECJ were set up for complete German domination of of Europe, as we are seeing

  • lizmilton

    You might like to have a look at articles on St Jo on

    Thetruthseekerdotcodotuk

    The police video evidence is particularly telling…

    The establishment up to its old tricks…which continue to this day…

  • DespiteBrexit

    “Perhaps the most brazen example was the revelation that his decision to lead the Vote Leave campaign was borne out not by an entrenched sense of political ideology or belief, but merely as a convenient means by which to strengthen his chances of leading the Conservative Party. Calculating that the remain campaign would secure the vote, he would successfully curry favour among Eurosceptic party members and MPs, while seeing the UK continue its membership of the European Union. In doing so he would position himself for a future bid to be Party leader and, ultimately, Prime Minister.”
    As others have asked, where exactly is the evidence for this? And, if it is true, why was he heard to comment despairingly “we’re ***ked” in response to the news of the untimely demise of Saint Jo Cox?
    There are good reasons to be wary of Boris, despite his many talents and benefits for political life. However this piece is just one long, nasty smear.

  • Slimy Chucklebutti

    ‘..good enough to become an MP..’
    You must be joking, the dross that sit in the HoC is anything but high quality with the odd exception.
    Our political class are dire and if they weren’t elected as MPs would have difficulty finding a proper job.

  • robert everitt

    But you do not say why he would not make a good leader.You would have condemned Churchill pre 1939.

  • ColdWater Economics

    The Guardian is reporting that Mrs May says European Court of Justice rulings will continue to be our law during ‘the transition.’ Laws to which the British people will have no input whatsoever during that period. To my mind, this is absolutely unacceptable at the basic level of human rights/democratic rights. Sorry, but if that’s her line, she’s got to go.

  • MacGuffin

    Oh what nonsense. Remoaners know that Johnson is the only proper Leave supporter with a shot at the leader’s job (Sorry, David Davis, Michael Gove, Liam Fox, etc) so they and their media allies are gunning for him. I don’t believe a word of what is being spun against Leavers these days.

  • Muttley

    That’s settled then!

  • Tinxx

    The Myanmar “incident” was not recent – it was just shown on Channel 4’s documentary recently. Similarly, his comments on Sirte reflect a reality on the ground that those who wished to take offence were able to take out of context for their own purposes. All of these kinds of “incidents” are a reflection of how the Media wishes to control the narrative and portray Boris Johnson for their own reasons. His “red lines” were nothing of the sort and his interventions with respect to his 4000 word article were a very necessary reminder of what Brexit’s focus should be on – leaving the EU – not trying to appease Remain voters with a series of capitulatons and endless transition periods. This is an unoriginal, sneering critique of Boris Johnson that would not be out of pace in the leader column of the Evening Standard. I had come to expect better from Comment Central.

  • Mojo

    When did you last visit the Home Counties!!!!! Boris Johnson is actually not much liked outside London and the South East. He is seen as a charismatic MP who is great company. The country as a whole feel he is probably not leadership material but he is a committed Brexiteer. Unfortunately we have no strong band of Brexiteers in government. Most of the cabinet were chosen from the Remainer brigade. So our biggest push has been from the backbenches.

    When we won the referendum, we genuinely thought our elected peers would listen to us and create a dynamic government of Brexiteers. But no. They carried on in the same Londoncentric bubble. The Brexiteers in government shamefully backed Theresa May when they should have gathered around Andrea Leadsom. They have only themselves to blame for this lacklustre government that is losing the support of the Leavers. At last Boris is realising that Hammond and Rudd are calling the tunes and we will be left with Brussels asking for more UK money, no say at the table and no rebate. Just to satisfy the Remainers and their paymasters, the globalists. They do not care for the people of this country. Mrs May doesn’t want the intelligent Brexiteers who are articulate, visionary and determined so she has not promoted anyone capable. If we fall onto WTO rules, the majority of this country will be happy. If we are kept in the EU and treated like a poor cousin there will a Labour government within a year.

  • Apparently, it’s been verified by 97% of Climate Scientists …

  • Mojo

    You must be very frightened of Boris delivering the Brexit that 17″4 million people voted for

  • Chead

    When William Walter made it up, just now.

  • Edgar

    So true, she obviously tried to set him up – also to give him a job which would take him out of the country for a lot of the time, so he would not be in Westminster scheming against her. That worked well, didn’t it!

  • Edgar

    Well he wasn’t despised by the millions of Londoners (me included) who normally voted Labour but made him Mayor, then re-elected him for a second term.

  • ScaryBiscuits

    The blue-rinse brigade (you must be over 50 yourself because nobody younger even knows what that means) has always been reliably onside with public opinion. Like any other group of voters, they are not the enemy. If you get them onside you get millions more. Scoff all you like.

  • ScaryBiscuits

    Boris Johnson has won two elections as mayor in a Labour supporting city. He’s the most recognisable and the most popular politician in the country. Who is this William Walter saying what Boris must or must not do? Surely that’s up to Conservative Party members and voters?
    Also, rather than presenting your slurs and opinions as facts and assuming everybody is out for themselves (which says more about you than your subject), there is an alternative explanation for Boris’s actions, that he really does want us to leave the EU. People are still talking about his 4,000 word article because it is an example of leadership, sadly lacking from the rest of the cabinet.

  • thedesertrat

    Gove put his name forward when he realised Johnson had no intention of standing. Johnson had 4 days in which to do so and didn’t. Gove stood because he thought it wrong that no leading leave campaigner had put their names forward.
    As for Johnson being nominated Foreign Secretary, well what agreement May reached with Johnson for not challenging her we’ll never know. Not that he ever had any intention to do so anyway.
    Johnson may be loved by the blue rinse brigade of the home counties but he’s despised by the rest of the country for the very reasons mentioned by the writer.

  • AlfTupperDarlin

    “They saw him elected to Parliament, first as MP for Henley in 2001 and subsequently as MP for Uxbridge in 2016.” He won his seat for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in the general election of 2015. William Walter’s grasp of the truth is shaky at best. His poisonous fantasies, on the other hand, sit perfectly with being a democracy-denying remoaner.

  • Bogbrush

    “Perhaps the most brazen example was the revelation that his decision to lead the Vote Leave campaign was borne out not by an entrenched sense of political ideology or belief, but merely as a convenient means by which to strengthen his chances of leading the Conservative Party. Calculating that the remain campaign would secure the vote, he would successfully curry favour among Eurosceptic party members and MPs, while seeing the UK continue its membership of the European Union. In doing so he would position himself for a future bid to be Party leader and, ultimately, Prime Minister.”

    You have the source for this assertion? Could you provide it?

  • hobspawn

    Don’t think I’ve ever read such a dishonest and serpentine pack of lies as this article in my life. “May anticipated that a combination of his high-profile and grasp of
    foreign relations he would help draw positive attention to the
    Government’s work overseas.” Honestly, how stupid do you think we are? Boris was set up by this scheming reasonous Prime Minister by putting him in a department for which he was extemely unsuited, and where his talents would count against him. The more I read the malevolent guff coming from snivelling liars like this bog-roll scribbler, the more I begin to suspect that Boris is the man to lead us against the cancer that is the British and international establishment.

  • Leo Savantt

    The author is obviously no fan of Johnson and it is hard to dismiss the numerous and often deserved criticisms contained within the article. Yet the elephant in the electoral room is Jeremy Corbyn, for all Johnson’s failings anyone who can ensure that Labour are denied the opportunity to form a government should not be dismissed. Doubts exist as to whether or not Mrs. May is up to this existential task, Johnson therefore can not be discounted; although there is, one hopes, a better alternative failing that if Boris can trump Corbyn he is a card that must be played.

  • Wahaay

    Boris Johnson is the only realistic chance the Conservatives have of seeing off the populist rise of Corbyn.He’s popular with grassroots Tories and a not inconsiderable number of potentially non-Tory voters.
    He’s also the leading Cabinet member still loyal to the vote and aspirations of all those people who gave Brexit a majority at the referendum.
    The writer of this piece on the other hand has never been good enough to become an MP and is clearly desperately envious of Boris’s success in journalism as he’s only risen to the heights of City AM and the Metro …
    If May is smart she’ll keep Boris onside and promise him her support for his succession after Brexit and before the next GE.

  • Count Boso

    “the revelation that his decision to lead the Vote Leave campaign was borne out not by an entrenched sense of political ideology or belief, but merely as a convenient means by which to strengthen his chances of leading the Conservative Party.” When did this “revelation” come to light?

  • ColdWater Economics

    Frankly, I think that the tactic of trying not to alienate the EU officials has been tried fairly exhaustively. So far all approaches, including Mrs May’s willingness to send them a bucketload of our money has been met only with stonewalling, arrogance and, frankly, abuse. And not only for Mrs May: I think Mr Cameron did his level best to be nice to these officials and it got him precisely nowhere.

    The EU officials are not our friends, nor should we expect them to be: they will protect their interests. We must protect ours, and if they insist on playing hardball, we absolutely should too.

  • Peter Divey

    Will, Johnson was stabbed in the back by Gove. Problems aplenty have spun out from that for the entire party. It gave us May ultimately. His pro-Brexit essay was just that. I never saw it as a challenge for the PM’s position. It was a necessary rebuke, a reminder that Brexit need not be carved out of subservience to the EU. He is gaff-prone, but no more or less than before. His position as Foreign Secretary does not suit his personality so you wonder why May promoted him, perhaps because it is a restriction on his usual cavalier style? I would take Johnson over May in a heartbeat, but then i would prefer my postman.

    The EU have pilloried May. Suddenly they are back-tracking, talking about the excellent working relationship they have with her. Why is that? Because someone could rise who is not a Remainer. The last thing the EU want is someone with courage and conviction. Someone who might not be so easily manipulated. Johnson is at least standing up even if it is a last stand. Who else is? Problem is Will, the qualities you describe as being ideal in your final paragraph seem to be in short supply almost anywhere in the entirety of British politics. And the EU know it.

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