Today’s Sunday Times is reporting (££)
BORIS JOHNSON is preparing to call for a no vote in Britain’s referendum on the European Union in an attempt to extract greater concessions from Brussels than David Cameron is demanding.
In a stance that puts him on a collision course with the prime minister, the mayor of London believes Britain should reject any deal Cameron puts forward because the EU will not give enough ground.
Johnson has told friends that a no vote is desirable because it would prompt Brussels to offer a much better deal, which the public could then support in a second referendum.
Johnson said: We need to be bold. You have to show them that you are serious.
The mayor’s views, shared with friends last week, will send shockwaves through Downing Street. Both the yes and no camps had assumed that he would support Cameron in arguing for Britain to vote yes.
This strategy by Boris is fraught with risks for him, were IN to win, particularly comfortably, then he will lose some of his electoral lustre.Â It is also likely to anger David Cameron no end, when Boris ceases to be Mayor next May, it is anticipated he would get a senior cabinet role, Cameron might punish Boris for this, which might impact negatively on Boris’ political future.
His strategy is also likely to annoy the OUT movement, what he is effectively telling them is, if we vote to leave the EU, I’m going to try and re-run the referendum to keep us in the EU, which seems very undemocratic and realise all their worst fears about the EU and this referendum process. But on one level, the OUT movement will be delighted to have a popular big hitter on their side, who may well end being the face of OUT.
Overall, I read this intervention by Boris as him seeing his chances of succeeding David Cameron diminishing and is a transparent and cynical attempt to increase his chances by appealing to the Outers in the Tory party, who will form a substantial part of the voters who will elect the next Tory leader.
Plus, were the UK to vote to leave the EU, that would almost certainly trigger Cameron’s resignation and Boris might also benefit from that, as Mike and others have speculated, Cameron going at time of his own choosing benefits George Osborne in the succession, Cameron being forced out at a time not of his choosing, doesn’t help Osborne.
PS -The Sunday Times say Boris made his comments, after reading a blog by Dominic Cummings, the former Tory aide who is organising the no campaign, which is discussed here on the Spectator Coffee House Blog, link is here and is well worth reading.