Boris to lead Reform UK?

Boris to lead Reform UK?

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson Portrait

Assume for a moment that you are Boris, and that you would like to be Prime Minister again. What are your prospects of regaining the Tory leadership?

Before the GE? Nearly zero. You aren’t an MP, and Sunak has made it clear that you’re not going to be a candidate under his leadership. After the GE? Well, maybe. But someone else will have been made leader post-Sunak. Will they be in a hurry to welcome a rival back in a by-election? Why would they do that? If they generously made it possible, your first task would be to undermine them so as to replace them before 2029.

So is there another option? Yes. Ask Reform UK if they’re bored with waiting for Farage to decide and would like you as leader. I bet they’ll say yes in a heartbeat. At that point, their poll rating will jump from the current 10-12% to at least 20%, probably 25%. I expect Farage would back you too. At that point, the Tories collapse into the low teens, and “only Reform UK can stop Labour in this seat” becomes a credible claim in many constituencies, plus “Let’s make Brexit realty work”, and they would pick up seats.

There is then a reasonable chance that you can win a seat and in all probability become LOTO, which you would undoubtedly find to be fun – partisan rhetoric is your genuine strength, perhaps rather more than the boring details of governing. The seat where you live, Didcot and Wantage, is the only Oxfordshire seat where RefUK has yet to select – a coincidence, or a contingency plan?

The Tories would collapse rapidly, and in a “statesmanlike” move you could then reverse engineer a merger between RefUK and the Tory rump. If Labour proved unpopular, you could win in 2029.

This course of action does require a certain degree of self-interestedness.  Is that an insuperable objection?

Nick Palmer

Nick Palmer was Labour MP for Broxtowe 1997-2010.

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