Boris Johnson Lacks “Political Conviction” – Journalist on Conservative Party Leadership Race

© AP Photo / Rui VieiraBritish Conservative Party Member of Parliament Boris Johnson speaks at a fringe event during the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre, in Birmingham, England, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018.
British Conservative Party Member of Parliament Boris Johnson speaks at a fringe event during the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre, in Birmingham, England, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018.  - Sputnik International
PM candidate Rory Stewart has hit out at what he calls cheap electoral bribes made by the likes of Boris Johnson, as they both vie to replace Theresa May in number ten Downing Street. But will Bojo’s strategy actually be successful in tempting MPs and Tory Party members to back him in the long run?

And would he lose a general election to Jeremey Corbyn’s Labour Party, should he become Conservative leader? Sputnik spoke with journalist Marcus Stead for more… 

Sputnik:  Will Boris Johnson win the Conservative Party leadership race?

Marcus Stead: Well, Boris Johnson is by far the best known as a candidate among the British public, and indeed on the global stage; Donald Trump has a friendship with him, but there is a very real possibility that Boris Johnson won’t make it down to the final two candidates that are voted on by the Conservative Party grassroots membership.

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Johnson currently has the backing of forty seven Conservative MPs, and that’s way ahead of next placed Jeremy Hunt who has thirty two. A little word of caution there; Mr Johnson is a divisive figure among Conservative MPs, and it may well be that those who are likely to back him, have already done so.

Those ten candidates, as they are whittled down to two by the Conservative backbenchers, and the final two will then be voted on by the entire party membership, those supporters of other candidates will back anyone but Boris Johnson, meaning that he might not make it all the way down to the final two; but if he does, he will likely win among those grassroots, where he is hugely popular, not just because he is well known, but because he is a Brexiteer.

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I think we need to look a little bit more closely at his suitability to be prime minister. There seems to be a real lack of political conviction and principle with Boris Johnson, and prior to the 2016 Brexit referendum, he drafted two articles for the Daily Mail newspaper, one for remain and the other for leave.

He only decided at the last minute which was to be published, and which was to be spiked. Ken Livingstone ; Mr Johnson’s predecessor as Mayor of London, says that the only thing Johnson believes in, is being there, in other words he wants power for power’s sake.

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Johnson’s personal life is messy. It’s in the public domain that he has sired three children outside of marriage, and his professional moral compass fares little better. Within a year of becoming a trainee reporter at the Times in the early 1990’s, he was sacked for making up a quote from his godfather, historian Colin Lucas, and in 1995 when he was assistant editor of the Daily Telegraph, there was a recording of a telephone conversation four years earlier, where it emerged he plotted with his old Etonian friend Darius Guppy, to have the then News of the World reporter Stuart Collier beaten up, and then Guppy was later jailed for attempted jewel fraud.

Johnson’s former boss when he was a journalist, Max Hastings; has written several articles about his very significant character flaws, and indeed Sonia Purnell has written a whole book about them.

Sputnik: Which other prime ministerial candidates could pose the strongest challenge to Boris Johnson?

Marcus Stead: The calibre of people standing for the Conservative Party leadership is not great overall. The majority are not really household names outside of political anoraks; they are not well known, they could walk down any high street without being widely recognised, and very few of them seem to have much in the way of charisma, or gravitas, they don’t have a clear vision as to how they will handle the situation with Brexit, let alone to which direction they want to take the country in, in the years ahead.

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I just hope that the Conservative Party has learnt from the Theresa May experiment, because if you are serious about delivering Brexit it might actually help if you’ve got a prime minister who believes in it, and sees Brexit as an opportunity for the country, rather than a damage limitation exercise.

The candidate with the clearest vision and understanding is former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab. While his campaign speech on Monday was steady, it didn’t exactly enthuse people, so he’s got a lot of work to do.

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Whoever wins the race will ultimately have a similar situation, to the one Theresa May found herself in. The parliamentary arithmetic is still going to be exactly the same, the splits within the Conservative Party are not going to heal any time soon, and parliament will do everything it can to prevent a no deal Brexit, and it has various mechanisms for doing that, so whatever noises the leadership candidates make, no deal is not a realistic option.

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Whoever wins will have a choice between Theresa May’s deal, which they will struggle to get through the House of Commons, and revoking Article Fifty which will mean no Brexit, wh

ich will have all sorts of ramifications in the country, and for democracy itself, it would open a Pandora’s box, and the consequences would be huge.

The moot music from the EU is that nothing else is on the cards. All those jockeying for the top job, they would do well to clearly lay out their vision, as to what they want to do with the time available, and let’s remember, when the October 31st deadline was agreed back in March, the European Council President Donald Tusk warned the UK government not to waste that time, well we’re not far off having wasted half that time, and yet no progress has been made.

We should also remember that the French President Emmanuel Macron, the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar,  they’ve given very strong indications that they are opposed to any further extensions beyond that October deadline, so we’re in a very messy situation.

Sputnik: Would Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party beat the Conservatives in a general election, with Boris Johnson as leader?

Marcus Stead: Even a general election would be fraught with risk.

The opinion polls currently suggest that the Conservative Party would do very badly indeed, and whether Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party would make a serious breakthrough is doubtful, because of the first past the post electoral system used in elections to the House of Commons, and it’s entirely possible that a general election could hand the keys to Number Ten, to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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