Moving On – The Tory Leadership

Whilst I was surprised by the Referendum result and others will no doubt be dismayed, it is to say the least something of a disappointment the amount of whining from those who backed or assumed Remain would win. Whilst David Cameron was visibly shaken on Friday morning and as the result ended his front bench political career earlier than expected, I hope he gets over his sulk and gets on with being Prime Minister for the duration of the leadership contest.

Although I think it should have been obvious to him, as I wrote previously, the way he and George Osborne conducted the campaign, ensured that regardless of the result, his time at No.10 was already over.

The Person for the Job if Remain

My earlier view was that even if Remain had won, unless by a whopping margin in the area of 75/25% for Remain, David Cameron would still have had to be replaced because of the divisions he had created in the Tory Party which he could never heal. I must also remind anybody reading this that whilst my vote was for Leave, my expectation before that Friday morning was for a Remain victory so my view looking forward was predicated on that and bringing the Conservative Party back together again.

Despite all the mess on the Opposition benches, that may not last forever and a viable Labour Leader may well appear very suddenly and in which case, Tory unity becomes crucial. To my mind one of the astounding failures of David Cameron during the Referendum was him blindly recreating the problems of the John Major era within his own party, an era which ended in a stunning victory for Tony Blair and Labour in a 1997 landslide, the public hate disunited parties.

So in that context my calculations were as follows: It has been said that George Osborne was favoured to take over from David Cameron when he stepped down but clearly, that couldn’t happen, he too was far too involved with ‘Project Fear’ during the Referendum. Equally because he was often cited as a future Tory Leader and had joined the Leave campaign, Boris Johnson couldn’t be a viable party leader, he too would have too many ‘enemies’ within the party. Equally, even if he wanted it, Michael Gove would be ruled out on a similar basis to Osborne but in his case because of supporting Leave.

From this it seemed to me that the most likely ‘unity’ choice would be Theresa May because whilst she officially supported the Governments Remain agenda, she deliberately kept a low profile and kept out of campaigning for Remain. That she is clearly politically ambitious and suitably calculating must be obvious and we have had a woman Prime Minister before, a certain Margaret Thatcher so that would be both different from previously whilst being broadly acceptable even to non Tories. However, is that true now ?

The Person for the Job if Leave

But the situation now is very different so does she still represent the best option for both the Conservative Party and more importantly, the Country at large ?

In simple terms, probably not. Whilst she most certainly has the ability to have taken the UK forward as Prime Minister of a UK that was still inside the EU, she would be totally the wrong person to have to deal with on going negotiations with the EU which will certainly take us to 2020 at a guess. Whilst like Maggie before her she would bring many strengths to the job of being PM, she lacks the ’rounded corners’ and sense of humour that will be required during those negotiations, being very dignified she is also far too brittle for such a task.

The only realistic choice as our next Prime Minister to deal with the EU negotiations is Boris Johnson because his deceptive ‘clown’ demeanour hides a sharp intellect, obvious political skills having won two terms as Mayor of London, a totally Socialist city and he will not be caught standing on his dignity plus has the psychology to weather setbacks along the way. Of course as all politicians are to a greater or lesser degree victims of their own egos ( why else do the job, the pay and conditions are shit ! ), Boris will have many enemies in the Tory Party, other MPs who resent his obvious success, a success they will never emulate however, they will mainly be within the main body and centre of the party who will more likely support unity, the EU sceptics will not have an issue, he has won his spurs there already.

So what I’m saying is that whilst he will have opposition from within the party, once in office it is likely to be muted and confined to negatively briefing journalists but because of his high profile during the campaign, the EU sceptic wing that would have destroyed Cameron and a Tory legislative program will give him no problems.

But it is more than that, it involves both the man, the product of a particular kind of education and what that education has bought with it. Johnson is highly literate, in no way xenophobic, totally aware of the whole sweep of history in a way few modern politicians of any country are. The negotiations with the EU will be difficult if only because they have not yet owned up to the problems they have which have nothing to do with the UK, they are in distinctly ‘sulk mode’ seeing the UK’s departure as a man running away from a marriage with his secretary, reality may seep in slowly but it will take time. To get the best outcome for both the UK and the EU, we need ‘our man’ in those negotiations to have the humour and robustness that Johnson has.

From Another Time

I am not sure that Boris Johnson would be a Kipling fan but the poem If sums up many things about the human condition and here the second verse:

“If you can dream-and not make dreams your master;

If you can think-but not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two imposters just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:”

Like Kipling, Johnson comes almost ‘from another time’ and yet, perhaps today and right now, this is his time and what he can achieve for the benefit of all sides is just why, whatever their petty emotions, the Tory Party should elect him as their new leader and therefore our next Prime Minister.

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