The Left must expose how this man cannot possibly be Prime Minister
Boris Johnson has today formally launched his bid to succeed David Cameron as Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister.
No doubt he will talk about the need to unite the country as it enters uncertain times largely created by himself.
What he will fail to do is to point out that behind the bumbling buffoon image lays a politicians unsure of what he actually believes in and who has been economic with the truth to say the least.
Can Boris be trusted?
That the public believe all politicians lie to some degree or another is not new. Boris however, has a track record of being caught out more often than most.
In 2004 the then Conservative leader, Michael Howard, sacked Johnson as the party’s arts spokesman after misleading Howard over an alleged affair.
He was also previously sacked as a journalist at the Times for making up quotes.
National Health Service
Putting aside the UK Statistics Authority’s declaration that it was a ‘misleading’ figure, Johnson spent much of the EU referendum campaign associating himself with the claim that leaving the EU would lead to a £350 million a week dividend for the NHS.
One wonders how this tallies with his own declaration in 2003 that people would value the NHS more if they had to pay for the service when they use it. His comment in full read:
‘If NHS services continue to be free in this way, they will continue to be abused like any free service.
If people have to pay for them, they will value them more. Above all, there is an economic point.
In a very modest way, this extension of private funds into the NHS would help the chancellor’s straitened circumstances.’
Throughout the referendum campaign Boris continued to stoke fears about the potential impact of Turkey joining the EU.
In 2006 however he used a documentary for the BBC to argue that he could not wait for the ‘great moment’ when the two halves of the Roman Empire ‘are at last reunited in an expanded European Union’.
‘I believe our generation has a historic chance not just to reunite the two halves of the Roman Empire, but to build a bridge between the Islamic and the Christian worlds’, he said.
Johnson’s admission that he had prepared two columns for the Telegraph outlining which way he intended to campaign exposed the truth that, for Boris, his decision was less about the UK’s national interest and more about his personal leadership ambitions.
His willingness to gamble the country’s future for his own personal benefit is simply breath taking.
Single Market and Free Movement of People
In his Telegraph column this week he pledged that the UK will continue to have access to the single market with British people still ‘able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down’.
Within 24 hours however he was already rowing back on his comments, on the basis that he was ‘tired’ when he wrote them. If he wants to be Prime Minister he cannot use tiredness as an excuse for flip-flopping so much.
The question though is what he truly believes on the single market and the free movement of people. The answer is that no one really knows.
Throughout the referendum Johnson persistently critiqued an unelected bureaucracy in Brussels running many areas of UK life.
How then does this square with his apparent decision to rule out a snap election if he is elected leader?
Where is the democracy of someone becoming leader on the basis of a platform completely different to that of the previous leader and then renegotiating our relationship with the EU without any reference to the public?
Over the next few months it is beholden on all progressives to point out at every opportunity possible the unsuitability of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.
Yes, it’s up to the Conservative Party to decide. But the state of the country requires a serious leader that is comfortable in their own skin, not someone prepared to U-turn like there’s no tomorrow simply in the pursuit of short term popularity.
Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot ForwardSign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.