He is a big character with a marmite personality. He has an ability to get away with things his colleagues and opponents often can’t, including cocaine snorting and the most blatant of racist remarks. One of his former staffers allegedly described him as a “a serial sh**ger and a serial liar”. He is said to be disinterested in detail and somewhat lazy. There is a genuine belief among many in the Westminster village that he decided to back Brexit not because he believes in it, but because it was the best move for his political career. His casual remarks when he was our Foreign Secretary condemned a British female citizen to an extended stay in an Iranian prison. His ranting and commentary have offended everyone from the good folk of Liverpool to Muslims. As London Mayor he bough a water cannon that could not be used on Britain’s mainland for £300,000 and he had a madcap scheme for a garden bridge project in the capital which spectacularly failed. He promised he would lie in front of a bulldozer before he would allow the creation of a third runway at Heathrow, only to disappear abroad when crucial votes on the matter were taking place. He has dubbed gay men as “bumboys” adding the accusation of homophobia to his charge sheet.
Boris Johnson ladies and gentlemen. Our next Prime Minister.
But, will his premiership really be that bad? Those who are supporting him – and at the moment that appears to be a very big percentage of the Conservative Parliamentary Party and Tory members – will point to the fact that he is a “winner”. His success in two mayoral elections has won him this reputation.
They also claim that those of us who find some of his language and robust narrative offensive are “snowflakes”, a middle-class, neoliberal elite who have no sense of what the ‘ordinary’ man and woman in the street want. Boris, they say, reached the parts that other Conservatives simply can’t.
On Brexit, they believe that he can deliver the Unicorn scenario they dream of. And then it will be onwards towards a General Election crushing of the evil and dangerous Jeremy Corbyn.
Even beyond the Brexiter fanatics though, Johnson has some support. One Nation Tories believe that under his foreign-bashing, austerity-supporting, tax cuts for the rich supporting front, there is a liberal desperate to get out. They also hope, privately at least, that he will be far more conciliatory in his dealing with the EU, with one going as far as to say they can see him succumbing to the demand for a ‘People’s Vote’.
It is fair to say that on occasion Johnson has demonstrated an ability to be charming, humorous and even discuss social issues in a progressive manner. But it seems to me that Boris does what is best for Boris and for the foreseeable future that will mean doing the bidding of his ERG backers and trying to out-Farage, Farage.
So, will Boris be as bad a PM as some of us think? Sadly I can only conclude that he will be, which means that I and many others will be hoping that the discipline and vow of silence he has taken during the leadership contest so far will go out of the window for the remainder of the campaign and he blows up and blows it once again. The alternative candidate may not float your boat either. But for me it’s ABB – Anyone but Boris.