With the election of a new party leader and Prime Minister looming closely for the Tories, it is clear that whomever it is, must get it right this time, something that the outgoing Theresa May had failed greatly to do.
This person will most likely be Boris Johnson, a widely known Conservative star, storming ahead of his rivals amongst MPs and party members. Boris Johnson is the only man for the job; what with a strong record on Brexit, a Mayoralty of London under his belt, and strong support within the party, he’s unstoppable.
Or is he?
I expected much more from Johnson this time around. Many would agree that his premiership is something long awaited, what with Gove stabbing him in the back after the referendum, and the complete disaster it has been having a Remainer lead us into a minority government legislatively paralysed, with a team that viewed the Brexit question as a damage limitation exercise, rather than something that should be relished in with excitement.
Sadly, I haven’t seen the same excitement and vigour within Johnson, or the same passion. All I have seen is a man who wants to be careful, but being careful is not something he is known for amongst his supporters. He is known for his colourful language, messy hair and vivacious personality, with ideas that inspired.
Rather, we have been offered tax cuts for those earning over £60,000, when the average person in Britain earns just over £28,000. We’ve been offered a ‘can do’ attitude towards leaving the European Union on October 31st, rather than a ‘will do’ attitude. Now don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly support tax cuts. Those earning between 60-80k have 40% of their income taxed, and I personally do not believe that is fair.
We should be a nation of low taxation, allowing people to keep more of their money.
However, is this really a priority for the average Briton right now? Wouldn’t Dominic Raab’s pledge to lower tax for the lowest paid resonate more with those hard pressed and struggling to pay the bills, not those who can afford to live a relatively comfortable life?
After suffering the backlash of this proposal, during hustings on Sunday in Birmingham, Johnson backtracked slightly and conceded it would be part of a package, something that is a huge improvement, but with no concrete direction on this, I struggle to see a clear enough vision.
Even Jeremy Hunt has been able to muster this with his approach to ‘No Deal’, slashing corporation tax to Irish levels and increasing defence spending, paired with an ambition to turn Britain into the next Silicon Valley. But with his Remainer track record and close allegiance to Theresa May, he is defined by his stance on Brexit, no matter how many times he tries to convince us he’d actually go through with no deal. His opening speech in Birmingham confirmed to me that his approach to Brexit would be no different to Theresa May’s, as he too doled out the threat of ‘no Brexit’, which is really code for ‘it’s either a deal, or nothing’.
The reason why I criticise Johnson so closely is because this isn’t just about who leads the party or their policy on Brexit, even though both are extremely pertinent issues. It’s also about who can beat Corbyn at a general election with economically sensible, exciting ideas that would make those disillusioned with both Labour and the old Conservative brand, (many of whom have flocked to the Brexit Party), have their faith restored within politics and democracy, but the latest polls are not looking so great.
With the replacement of Theresa May improving the party’s chances, Labour remains on 26%, with the Conservative party on 24% (Survation, 20 Jun). This still means that Labour could sweep into power, and with the parliamentary arithmetic largely the same on Brexit, an early general election might just be a possibility. It’s either that or the possibility of a failure to deliver Brexit if Johnson’s rhetoric on no deal proves only that, which would also mean ‘bye-bye’ Conservatives and ‘hello’ Brexit party.
Either way, if Boris Johnson wants to beat Corbyn, he must offer up a vision in the upcoming hustings, or risk giving a Marxist the keys to Number 10.
The country relies upon it.