The Prime Minister has announced her resignation. Well, sort of. Regardless, an official Tory leadership contest now only appears a few weeks away. This makes it an apt time to start looking at some of the candidates. At the front of the queue is a certain Boris Johnson. So what is the case for Boris?
Let’s begin with the obvious point. First, he is a Brexiteer. The Conservative Party is currently haemorrhaging voters to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party both in European and Westminster voting intentions. Without these voters the Conservative Party will not be able to win a majority. Recent polls have indicated that Boris could be the best placed candidate to regain these voters for the Conservative Party.
Secondly, he is a winner. For all of the criticism about Boris (arguably much of it fair!), he is a winner. He won in Labour London in 2008 and 2012 and was pivotal in the referendum campaign. MPs fearful for their seats will be keen to back and support a winner. Boris has this track record. His supporters will suggest that he is the only candidate who can beat Corbyn. And beating Corbyn is the one thing which still unites the Tories.
Thirdly, he will enthuse the membership. Tory membership is dwindling a long way behind the Labour Party membership. Come election time this could be very damaging. Boris has always been very popular with the membership and could excite and engage the grassroots. He could also reach previous members who have left the Conservative Party to join the Brexit Party or other parties.
Fourthly, he is a politician made for the media and interactive age. He has strong cut through in the public at large and is a good media performer. In the current climate these characteristics matter. He also has the rare quality of appearing to be able to relate to the general public. Wherever Boris goes there is a crowd and people flock to come and see him. This makes him a rare beast.
This is far from exhaustive and of course there are counters to many of these points. That piece is for another day. However if the Tory MPs and the membership choose to make Boris Johnson our next Prime Minister, it will largely be based on these arguments. And yes that is not as unlikely as some maybe had hoped or predicted.