« | Home | »

Boris Johnson’s Great and Glorious Future


The mayor of London riding sidecar to the Polish foreign minister

The mayor of London riding sidecar to the Polish foreign minister

The text of Boris Johnson’s speech at Bloomberg headquarters on Wednesday has the following helpful subheadings: ‘The European Nightmare’, ‘The Solution – Reform and Referendum’, ‘But Be Prepared for a New Future’, ‘The Dream’. The first part of the speech is devoted to the nightmare of EU health and safety regulations (truck drivers must not drive for more than nine hours a day etc), but Britain could have ‘a great and glorious’ future if it leaves the EU. London is already ‘the America of the European Union’ (because it’s a place of ‘massive opportunity’, not because it’s one of the most unequal cities on earth).

Johnson mentioned that he’d recently been in Bydgoszcz, and praised Poland for having kept out of the euro. Oddly, he didn’t mention seeing his old friend Radek Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister and former Bullingdon Club member who tweeted pictures of them together at the weekend. It’s hard to believe they didn’t discuss the part of Johnson’s speech of most interest to some of their fellow Bullingdonians: ‘So, let me put it this way – I have not got any particular seat lined up but I do think in all probability – since you can’t do these things furtively, I might as well be absolutely clear – in all probability I will try to find somewhere to stand in 2015.’

The Conservative Party has already chosen 74 of its prospective parliamentary candidates. Whether unaligned voters would want Boris Johnson to be their MP is beside the point. The only thing that matters is his appeal to a local Conservative Association, and for the last paid-up members of a dying grassroots party, Johnson would be irresistible: imagine the attendance at the next summer fete.

There’s speculation that Johnson might look to be selected in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, whose longstanding MP (majority at the last election: 11,216) is retiring. This would present a staggering conflict of interest for a mayor of London who is pushing for a new airport in the Thames Estuary to replace Heathrow – and makes all Johnson’s pronouncements on the subject even more suspect than they have already been. He may have local support for the move – the current Conservative leader of Hillingdon Council has campaigned against a third runway at Heathrow whenever it’s been suggested.

There are plenty of powerful arguments against HS2, but when Johnson has weighed in locally, he’s attacked the proposed connection from the high speed line at Ickenham to Heathrow: it’s ‘a ludicrous waste of money and should be scrapped’. Howard Davies, the chairman of the Airports Commission says that the coalition has asked him to delay his report on the future of London’s airports until after the election. Johnson has called the commission’s approach ‘gloopy and tangled’. Davies accused of the mayor of ‘vulgar abuse’.

There’s an orgy of interest in what Johnson will do and where he will stand. One option that doesn’t appear to be on the table is his stepping down as mayor to take up a seat outside London. Still, north-west Londoners desperate to have an old Etonian and Bullingdonian for an MP need only move north across the boundary to Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, which has been represented since 2010 by Nick (son of Douglas) Hurd.

Comments on “Boris Johnson’s Great and Glorious Future”

  1. streetsj says:

    Where is the conflict of interest? Electors know where he stands on the issue before they vote. What am I missing?

  2. Harry Stopes says:

    The conflict is that as Mayor he’s supposed to take decisions for the benefit of London as a whole. At the same time though, Boris qua Boris (as opposed to Boris qua Mayor) may be inclined to favour a particular set of Londoners, those whose parliamentary votes he may want. A possible seat in Uxbridge and his opposition to Heathrow expansion makes this a real possibility.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.

  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • name on Who is the enemy?: Simply stating it is correct doesn't make it so, I just wish you would apply the same epistemic vigilance to "Muslim crimes" as you do to their Hebrew...
    • Glen Newey on Unwinnable War: The legal issue admits of far less clarity than the simple terms in which you – I imagine quite sincerely – frame them. For the benefit of readers...
    • Geoff Roberts on The New Normal: The causes go back a long way into the colonial past, but the more immediate causes stem from the activities of the US forces in the name of freedom a...
    • sol_adelman on The New Normal: There's also the fact that the French state denied the mass drownings of '61 even happened for forty-odd years. No episode in post-war W European hist...
    • funky gibbon on At Wembley: If England get France in the quarter finals of Euro 16 I expect that a good deal of the fraternity will go out the window

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Edward Said: The Iraq War
    17 April 2003

    ‘This is the most reckless war in modern times. It is all about imperial arrogance unschooled in worldliness, unfettered either by competence or experience, undeterred by history or human complexity, unrepentant in its violence and the cruelty of its technology.’

    David Runciman:
    The Politics of Good Intentions
    8 May 2003

    ‘One of the things that unites all critics of Blair’s war in Iraq, whether from the Left or the Right, is that they are sick of the sound of Blair trumpeting the purity of his purpose, when what matters is the consequences of his actions.’

    Simon Wren-Lewis: The Austerity Con
    19 February 2015

    ‘How did a policy that makes so little sense to economists come to be seen by so many people as inevitable?’

    Hugh Roberts: The Hijackers
    16 July 2015

    ‘American intelligence saw Islamic State coming and was not only relaxed about the prospect but, it appears, positively interested in it.’

Advertisement Advertisement