Boris Johnson is having a deeply unimpressive referendum campaign so far

Boris Johnson is having a deeply unimpressive referendum campaign so far

If he wants to be leader, he needs to improve sharply in the next three months just to make the final two of the next Tory leadership contest.

Look at the above video from Boris Johnson’s appearance at the Treasury Select Committee earlier on this week, where his past comments/hyperbole on the EU came back to haunt him. Then there’s that tweet showing his inconsistency. Unfortunately for Boris these are the norms, not the exceptions. When he recently appeared on The Andrew Marr Show and was so unimpressive, Trevor Kavanagh of The Sun wrote of that appearance that it “may have damaged both Brexit and [Boris Johnson’s] dream of becoming our next Prime Minister.” People like Michael Gove have made a more articulate case for leaving the EU than Boris has so far.

The next general election campaign will echo the lines of the last campaign, Tory competence versus Labour chaos. That message won’t work if the Tory leader is seen as a buffoon or not as a credible Prime Minister. Despite recent appearances the Tory Party really does want to win the next general election, it would be wrong to view the next Tory leadership contest solely through the prism of only the EU referendum. The members have already said their two main criteria when choosing the next leader will be 1) Who will be the most competent PM and 2) Who has the best chance of winning in 2020. This represents good news for Theresa May, who in my opinion is value at  11/1 to be next Prime Minister, as she radiates competency.

As Matthew Parris noted in The Times yesterday (££), Boris Johnson in the past called Labour’s repeal of Section 28 “appalling”, who joked about “tank-topped bum-boys.” These sort of comments will come back and haunt Boris, whilst undoing the Tory detoxification project. Compare and contrast with Theresa May’s ‘Nasty Party’ comments, only one of those will be helped by their respective past comments, and it isn’t Boris. With Mike pointing out how the polls have a history of overestimating Boris, you can see the appeal of Boris waning with MPs further. On past performance Boris Johnson won’t survive the white heat of a Tory leadership contest.

Boris Johnson, David Cameron, and George Osborne all became MPs in June 2001, the performance so far by Boris Johnson in this referendum campaign has reminded us why Cameron and Osborne became Tory leader and Shadow Chancellor respectively within a little over four years of becoming MPs, whilst Boris Johnson was wasting away on the backbenches. History has shown, this far out it is profitable to lay the favourite for the Tory leadership, Boris is not showing any evidence why punters should break that habit. Simply not being Boris Johnson might be enough to win the Tory leadership.


PS – The Treasury select committee member Wes Streeting was deeply impressive during the questioning of Boris Johnson, coupled with his recent joke at George Osborne’s expense “Recalling a deeply, deeply unfortunate and certainly not amusing mix-up in which Barack Obama kept calling Osborne ‘Geoffrey’, Streeting had a Rainbow gag up his sleeve: “There’s probably a risk when President Obama visits next month he’ll think you’ve changed your name from Geoffrey to Bungle.”” Wes Streeting is worth backing at 66/1 for next Labour leader with Ladbrokes, I like him a lot.

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