What’s Boris Johnson’s plan?

How much would you say is Boris Johnson’s eurosceptic approach an effort to position as the next Tory leader and how it may influence British politics? Read few comments.

Andrew Russell, Professor, Head of Politics, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester

Seeing as Boris Johnson has today followed up this approach by announcing that he intends to stand again for election to Westminster in 2015 and is looking for a suitable seat, it is hard to see this intervention as anything other than a statement of intent aimed at the Conservative rank and file.

Many Conservative activists were disinclined to buy into the Cameron (modernisation) project from the start but in 2005 he did promise them the prospect of a return to government. To many of those loyalist party members he failed delivery this victory falling short of an absolute majority in 2010 and had to deal with the Liberal Democrats in order to form an effective majority. The coalition is a reminder of the lack of success of the Conservative project in two ways – firstly the programme of the govt has been tempered (diluted?) by needing to get LibDem approval and secondly the need to create govt and cabinet jobs for LibDem MPs meant that many Conservative MPs who might have harboured personal ambitions in a majority govt were overlooked in the construction of the new regime (often in favour of the very party that they fought at the local level).

Add to this the Con activist obsession with UKIP- who they see as parking their tanks on the traditional party position and it’s easy to see where opposition to Cameron may find expression. For my money it’s clear that UKIP recruits Labour voters too but the activist base of UKIP definitely has a large intersection with Tory defectors.

So BJ is reminding everyone in the party – and the media outside – that he represents a viable alternative strategy. He too is a modernising in some social reforms but is dry on economic matters, Eurosceptic by default and has a record of wining elections outright. If he wins a seat in 2015 and the Conservatives do not win an overall majority he could well be an effective challenger to Cameron.

Richard Hayton, Lecturer in Politics, School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), University of Leeds

Boris Johnson is clearly trying to position himself to be a potential candidate for the Conservative Party leadership when the vacancy next arises. However, is Euro-scepticism is only one element of his strategy. The Conservative Party as a whole is now firmly Euro-sceptic, so anyone hoping to be a credible leadership candidate would need to have clear Euro-sceptic credentials. Other figures who have been talked of as potential candidates in a future leadership election (for example Philip Hammond, Michael Gove, and Liam Fox) have all stressed their Euro-scepticism.

Alan Convery, Lecturer in Politics, Politics and International Relations, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

I think that Boris’s eurosceptic approach chimes with his own views and is not stated simply to increase his chances of becoming Tory leader. This increasingly eurosceptic approach has also been echoed by Philip Hammond and Michael Gove who have previously stated that the UK should be prepared to leave the EU if it does not get the concessions it wants through renegotiation.


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