Boris Johnson’s resignation speech wasn’t the Geoffrey Howe moment some had built it up to be. But the former Foreign Secretary’s critique of Theresa May’s Brexit policy certainly gave Tory MPs food for thought. Johnson made clear he thought the policy amounted to Brexit in name only – and pushed for a change of course.
Given that the Prime Minister shows no sign of backing down and is adamant hers is the right way, this presents the Brexiteers with a problem. Despite their insistence they would rather May stay in office, will this position be tenable in two months time if nothing has changed? And who could they turn to should they need someone to step up and challenge May?
Perhaps a clue can be found in Jacob Rees-Mogg’s endorsement of Johnson’s speech. The arch-Brexiteer has dubbed it ‘the speech of a statesman’:
The speech of a statesman. https://t.co/2H98U9hJJJ
— Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) July 18, 2018
A statesman destined for No 10?