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Boris Johnson’s risky strategy is to be himself

23 July 2019

12:45 PM

23 July 2019

12:45 PM

Boris Johnson is the new leader of the Conservative party. He has defeated Jeremy Hunt by a two to one margin, 66 to 34 per cent. This gives him a mandate and will boost his political authority—a boost that he desperately needs given how small his working majority will be, even in combination with the DUP.

Boris Johnson’s speech was clearly a holding exercise, his team want to reserve their main messages for tomorrow when he actually becomes prime minister. It wouldn’t be a good look for him to be setting out his plans for the country to his Tory colleagues rather than the country as a whole.

But perhaps the most telling thing about the speech was how typically Boris it was. There were jokes and bad puns. Unlike when he became foreign secretary, Boris Johnson isn’t going to try and change his style. This is a risk; will his approach sound flippant when discussing serious issues?

But it is – on balance – sensible. When he tried to be a different kind of figure, it didn’t work. It felt forced rather than natural.

We now have Theresa May’s final PMQs tomorrow before Boris Johnson heads to the palace. In the intervening period, we’ll hear more and more speculation about who will fill Boris Johnson’s Cabinet. His margin of victory gives him quite a lot of room for manoeuvre. The divides in the party, though, mean it would be sensible of him to appoint as broad a Cabinet as is compatible with his plan to leave the EU by October 31st come what may.


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