United Kingdom: Is Prime Minister Boris inevitable?
The race is BoJo’s to lose.
Can anyone stop Boris Johnson from becoming Britain’s next prime minister? asked Andrew Grice in Independent.co.uk. Now that Theresa May has stepped down over her failure to get her Brexit plan through Parliament, lawmakers from the ruling Conservative Party must pick two of their number to stand in a party-wide election in July. Of the five Conservative leadership candidates still in the running, ardent Brexiteer Johnson is far and away the front-runner. Some lawmakers now want his rivals to step aside so the former London mayor and ex–foreign secretary can be “rubber-stamped by party members in a confirmatory ballot.” But that is how May became prime minister following David Cameron’s resignation in 2016, and she turned out to be such a disaster that at least the appearance of vetting is now mandatory. Yet other leadership candidates, such as Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Home Secretary Sajid Javid, are “treating Johnson with kid gloves” because they, too, assume he will win and they want to be in his cabinet.
Boris is the right man for the job because he really “does believe in Brexit,” said Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph. May voted for Britain to remain in the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum and lacked the ardor necessary to win concessions from Brussels. Johnson, on the other hand, was a key leader of the pro-Brexit campaign and has said he’s prepared for the U.K. to leave the bloc without a deal. There’s also the fact that Boris “is literally the only candidate who has personally won millions of votes (twice, when mayor of London).” That will be a crucial asset at the next general election, with the upstart Brexit Party of Nigel Farage—which placed first in Britain’s recent elections for the European Parliament—threatening to steal scores of Conservative seats.
BoJo, as the tabloids call him, is “unsuitable as prime minister in a million ways,” said Camilla Long in The Times. Posh and eternally disheveled, he’s an incorrigible liar who forged his career as The Daily Telegraph’s correspondent in Brussels in the 1990s by making up entirely untrue stories about bureaucratic overreach. He wrote that the EU planned to ban insufficiently curvy bananas and regulate condom size. A notorious philanderer—“there have been three mistresses on record, an abortion, and at least one love child”—the 54-year-old Johnson is currently shacked up with a 31-year-old political PR expert, having left his long-suffering second wife of 25 years.
Johnson’s very “untrustworthiness” makes him the ideal candidate, said Simon Jenkins in The Guardian. The Brexit deal that May carefully negotiated with Brussels, and which Parliament rejected three times, is our only route out of the EU. Yet the Conservative contenders all claim they can win a more favorable deal from the EU, something Brussels has said repeatedly won’t happen. Our next prime minister will be the candidate who can be relied on to back down fastest on what he promised. “Whose record of double-talk, about-turn, and mendacity will prove the most robust?” That will surely be Johnson’s. ■