by Stuart Clark |
22nd June – 12th July: Hustings by Conservative party members. There will be BBC, Sky and ITV TV debates (at this time only the ITV one has a scheduled date of 9th July). Jeremy Hunt has urged Boris to attend the first 2 before the postal votes start coming in. He quite rightly knows that they are his chance to show members that he is the better candidate. Boris just must keep his mouth shut (even at home, behind closed doors, his words trip him up. Especially when they reveal what many of us already suspect that he is a deeply unpleasant man). “get off me” will be on T-shirts soon I’m sure.
Monday 22 July: Next Prime Minister confirmed. A vote of no confidence will surely follow closely a Johnson victory.
How did we get here: Before the disastrous local and European elections, it would’ve been unlikely that Boris would’ve made it to the final two. MPs, in general work hard and don’t like to see men like Boris, famously lazy, attain power. But the Conservative’s disastrous results in both elections meant many Conservative MPs held their noses and voted for him as they believe only him and his popularity among the leavers would most likely save their seats, and the party. It’s now in the hands of the Conservative members. Interestingly, polls after the personal revelations about Boris’ relationship issues, show that his popularity has taken a bigger dip amongst the public than conservative party members, so MPs may have been a little hasty. In my view his personal relationships is none of our business, but it does reveal the tension and the strain is obviously getting to him.
The likely outcome: Boris Johnson is still our most likely next Prime Minister, but there is plenty of time for events to change that. I think it will be closer than anticipated. Whichever man triumphs, it’s almost certain they will push the EU for further concessions, although it’s not clear who they will ask (European Parliament security perhaps) as the new commission will not be in place until October. But they will speak to whoever will listen and a tweak, however irrelevant will be made to look like a major victory. One big concern, and something to look our for is: How much money and effort will be assigned to prepare for this “no-deal Brexit” both are insisting they don’t want, but must remain on the table and, in reality both will not let happen, but they may pretend they will, in the knowledge that parliament would stop them and they can claim they were prevented. Yes – that, I’m afraid, is how honest British politics works these days. You couldn’t make it up. (well you could but no one would believe you)
Jeremy Hunt campaign: He is working at a relentless pace and many, if they are paying attention have got to admire this. But we must keep reminding ourselves it is only conservative party members who are voting and they still, despite all the evidence believe Boris to be their champion and a worthy Prime Minister. Jeremy is, I’m sure, fully aware of his responsibilities as the current Foreign Secretary. There is an impending crisis going on with US/Iranian relations. This could play to his advantage, if he is seen to contribute diplomatically to stabilising the situation. Let’s not forget Trump spoke directly to him while making a speech asking his advice about another candidate. But if his attention is diverted it could derail his campaign which needs maximum effort.
Boris Johnson campaign:
He has learnt from Trump, that you can say anything you like and then deny you said it or change your mind without explanation. Today he is saying: we will withhold the £39 Billion (not possible) and use it to negotiate in trade talks, during the implementation period (he must know that without a withdrawal agreement there is no implementation period, because there is nothing to implement.)
When asked a difficult question, he goes into his bumbling funny fellow routine, like some aging comedian afraid he’s losing his audience. By the end of this campaign it will be wearing very thin – or we won’t be listening anymore.
How do the 99.9% of the population – who don’t have a say in choosing the next Prime Minister feel about this campaign: The overwhelming feeling on both sides of the Brexit divide is frustration, and helplessness. There is of course a sense of excitement. The absurdity of the British system seems designed to build tension, but it does make good TV. Putin today remarked that our system is strange, obviously jealous he hadn’t the nerve to adopt such a ridiculous system when circumventing the democratic process. He could’ve saved himself a lot of money and effort.
Labour, LibDems and the Brexit Party are all seeing opportunities: Labour are praying for a Jeremy Hunt victory because, against Boris it’s unclear they’d win a General Election. LibDems are desperately trying to find a new leader but do not have any suitable candidates. Brexit Party are preparing themselves too for a General Election and are also praying for a Jeremy Hunt victory and another delay in the Brexit Process which will give them all the ammunition they need. Change UK, or whatever they are calling themselves today are the only ones hoping for a Johnson victory in the hope that a few more Tory MPs who have been deselected will defect to them, but they may be out of luck as that ship seems to be sailing past. We will see.
Is what they are saying really what they mean: No.
Notable comments and supporters:
Boris has the support of Trump, but he also seemed to like Jeremy – in any sane world politicians would steer clear of him, but this is the reality we live in and, I’m afraid it matters.
It was interesting to hear Liam Fox as staunch Brexiteer come out strongly for Hunt. The remain members of the cabinet are of course hoping for Jeremy to triumph and many have already said they will not serve under a Johnson leadership – some may even defect?
My own view:
If I put aside my anger at the situation we find ourselves in. I am of course excited by the drama of the situation. And whichever candidate wins there are scenarios and opportunities, not currently being discussed, which make us remaining in the EU indefinitely still a distinct possibility. But let’s get this psychodrama over and done with first and then see where we are.
Stuart Clark, Editor, UK
Stuart Clark is currently, board member and Nominations officer for the Federalist Party
He was leader of the UK section of the European Federalist Party 2013-2016. He is active with Alliance Europa, and also the Federal Union in UK. As well as promoting Federalism, Stuart also campaigns for constitutional reform and electoral reform. He stood for Council Election in Lambeth in 2018. Stuart works for a global ticketing company and is based in London and Cornwall.