One of the criticisms of the idea of Boris Johnson as a potential Prime Minister is that he doesn’t look the part and isn’t serious enough. The argument goes that it is all very well for the Mayor of London to jape around, but quite another thing for the Prime Minister to (Phil Collins produced a very punchy version of this point of view (£) in The Times this week).
But as Charles Moore argues in his column, this argument misses that ‘conventional politics is now failing more comprehensively than at any time since the 1930s, and that Boris Johnson is the only unconventional politician in the field.’ It is precisely because Boris does not conform to what is expected of a modern politician that he appeals.
Now, it should be remembered that Boris remains a long way away from Downing Street and David Cameron’s position remains pretty secure by the standards of mid-term Prime Ministers. Someone in Number 10 said to me about Boris this week, ‘as rivals goes, he’s not even in the House of Commons’. Boris can’t be Prime Minister until that changes which means that all of this talk is even more speculative than most leadership speculation is. Indeed, I suspect that the Cameroons would be far more concerned if a bandwagon was building behind somebody who was actually an MP.
There’s little doubt, though, that Boris has used this week to put down a marker. The idea of him leading the Tories has now entered the mainstream. It is no longer just a joke.Tags: Boris Johnson, Conservatives, David Cameron, UK politics