Boris Johnson’s election victory has been the political equivalent of Dyno-Rod, unblocking the drains of Westminster, I say in the Sun this morning. The return of majority government has led to not only Brexit sailing through parliament but being vital to the restoration of power-sharing in Northern Ireland.
Moving forward offers a chance to bring the country back together. As Boris Johnson’s great hero Winston Churchill used to say, ‘in victory, magnanimity’. At Prime Minister’s Questions this week, he took a much less confrontational style than usual. With everyone apart from the Labour and Scottish National Party leaders, he went out of his way to be generous and not to try and score party political points.
Boris Johnson wants to occupy the common ground of British politics. His approach to Brexit night on January 31st reflects that. Rather than being out with Nigel Farage and co in Parliament Square, he’ll address the nation on this momentous moment from Downing Street. I’m told that the message will be upbeat but also try and reach out and reassure those who voted Remain.
It would be tempting for Boris Johnson to join in some full New Year’s Eve-style celebration, and there are undoubtedly Leave voters who would love him to do just that. But the danger is that this might alienate those who voted Remain but have now reconciled themselves to the result and want to help the country pull together.
What is key is that in the coming weeks the government shows that it knows what it wants to do to improve voters’ lives. Boris Johnson needs to put meat on the bones of his plan to ‘level-up’ infrastructure and opportunity across the country. He must show that he knows not only how to keep the economy growing but how to get it out of the 2nd gear that it—along with most of the rest of the Western world—has been stuck in since the financial crisis of 2008.