(Barndoor Strategy CEO Havard Hughes with Boris Johnson)
The polls have now closed in the Conservative leadership contest and it is all but inevitable that next Tuesday, Boris Johnson will be named as the new party leader and therefore the new Prime Minister.
There has been much mainstream media criticism of the fact that the new Prime Minister will be chosen by a small group of Conservative Party members. But Britain is a Parliamentary not a Presidential democracy. We have never had directly-elected leaders.
The leader of the political party with a parliamentary majority is always invited to form a government. If that leader choses to resign, as Theresa May has, their replacement steps into the role of Prime Minister. It happened a decade ago when Gordon Brown replaced Tony Blair, it happened in 2016 when Theresa May replaced David Cameron, and it will happen again next week.
To change this would mean making fundamental alterations to our democratic process and could even end up challenging the role of the Monarch as Head of State.
Of course, the new Prime Minister might choose to have an election quickly. But they are under no obligation to do so.
This choice is going to be a tough one for Boris. On the one hand, he has promised to deal with Brexit by the current 31st October deadline and this is where all his focus will need to be over the next three months.
But getting anything Brexit-related through Parliament looks almost impossible. The Conservative Government has a majority of just 3 in the Commons even with the support of the Democratic Unionists. Significantly more Conservative MPs than that are opposed to leaving the EU and would vote against anything but the loosest Withdrawal Agreement, something Boris couldn’t countenance without betraying his promises to the Tory grassroots.
The Labour Party’s decision to finally commit to being a remain party makes any agreement in the current Parliament look impossible.
It is a situation where Boris might be tempted to go to the polls. While Parliament remains staunchly pro-remain, polling suggests that the majority of British people still support leave. It is a scenario where Boris might expect to win a working majority to finally deliver Brexit. But there is one sticking point; the Brexit Party.
Nigel Farage’s new party swept to victory in the recent European elections and the risk for Boris is that the Brexit Party could split the Tory vote and let in Jeremy Corbyn.
If Boris can deliver Brexit before going to the country, he could neuter the Brexit Party threat and make the election about Boris vs Jeremy Corbyn. The latter’s appalling satisfaction ratings despite being up against one of the least popular Prime Ministers ever suggests that contest would be a first-round knock-out.
It is a decision that could define his time in office in much the same way that Theresa May’s decision to go to the polls in 2017, which saw her majority reduced, has ultimately defined hers.
But what type of Prime Minister would Boris be? Again, the mainstream media has been full of claim and counterclaim from people who have tangential links to him from his time at the Telegraph, or as London Mayor.
The best and most honest insight into Boris comes from those who worked closest to him over a period of years and our own Roger Evans is one of the best placed people to turn to.
Roger worked alongside Boris in City Hall as his Deputy Mayor and de-facto number two for years. Nobody knows Boris’ character, his attributes, and his failing better. And as he revealed in a recent blogpost, there are a number of reasons why he believes Boris can be a success.
Roger confirms that Boris is not a details man, but rightly notes that Tony Blair and David Cameron weren’t either. Both of them were successful and popular Prime Ministers whereas Gordon Brown and Theresa May, who were hot on detail, were anything but.
Boris’ strengths come in his ability to pick the right people to work around him, his openness to new ideas and different ways of thinking, and his determination to improve the lives of people.
But most of all, Boris brings with him a positivity that has been sorely lacking in British politics of late. He is a leader for difficult times, a man who can propel the country through tough times, whatever happens, and who can attract supporters from not just the Brexit Party but all sides of the political divide.
In a sense, Boris is a bit like no deal Brexit. There is a degree of uncertainty about him. But there is also a huge amount of opportunity and a sense that if we do take the plunge, things could ultimately work out for the best.
One thing Boris is certain to deliver in Number 10 is an end to the uncertainty that has dogged British politics for the past three years. On his watch, things will start to happen again and for businesses, financial institutions, and workers up and down the country, this cannot happen a moment too soon.
Here at Barndoor Strategy, we are perfectly placed to help you and your business seize the opportunities that will arise in Boris’ Britain.
So, why not drop us a line today to see what we can do for you.