Thursday, 15 January 2015

George Osborne is now backing Boris Johnson?

Or so says Peter Oborne.

It's not as if Osborne doesn't want to be leader, but he has "abandoned all realistic prospect of becoming Tory leader, not just now but ever. There are two main reasons for this.

First, [the] more Tory MPs that Michael Gove canvassed, the worse it got. Many Tories admire Mr Osborne. Very few think that he is a plausible party leader.

A second factor was more urgent: Theresa May. For reasons I do not fully understand, David Cameron and his inner circle have no time for Mrs May.
" And Johnson is the only person who can beat May. 

But that does not make Osborne and Johnson best friends: "Mr Osborne neither likes nor trusts Mr Johnson. ... Mr Johnson does not like or trust Mr Osborne either, but he knows and respects the fact that this is the man who is in ultimate charge of the Tory machine. He probably calculates that once he becomes leader he can do what he wants. Mr Osborne probably calculates that he can stop him." That sounds like a recipe for great government.

So "Here is the situation. The team that installed Michael Howard in 2003, and David Cameron as leader in 2005, is moving towards transition mode. It figures that Boris Johnson is broadly compatible: neo-liberal, pro-American, pro-European, liked by the big donors, a proven election-winner. He will play a huge part in the election campaign. In the event of a referendum on Europe he will champion the Yes vote (Mr Johnson’s Euroscepticism has been overestimated)."

They gave you Howard! They gave you Cameron! And now they give you Johnson! But who are they?

Oborne concludes "Many observers, contemplating this latest Bullingdon Club stitch-up, will side with Mrs May, the feisty outsider. What does the Home Secretary do about it? That is the subject for another column." "Many observers"? "Bullingdon Club stitch-up"? I'm not sure we need another column to see what May, the "feisty outsider", is doing about it - although I'd be surprised if that column didn't mention that there is a precedent for a strong-minded female from outside the Conservative Party's inner circle turning out to be a fair bit more successful than the Establishment candidate.

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