Despite having to resign as Prime Minister in July 2022 over all those unfortunate “memory lapses” concerning Lockdown Parties, and despite his own fellow Conservative colleagues resigning en masse in order to force him out, the truth of the matter is that Boris Johnson has never really gone away. Indeed, he has been remarkably sure-footed ever since not to embarrass the Government during his period in exile, whilst keeping a very high-profile role at Davos, Washington and in Kiev. Is there an agenda behind this? The answer, in short, is Yes. Boris thinks he can become Prime Minister again! And he is not alone.
Conservative pundit Iain Dale lays out how he sees this unfolding.
“However much the salons of Islington and Camden don’t understand Johnson’s appeal, there is little doubt in my mind that if MPs think mitigating the scale of defeat at the next election is the priority, then replacing Sunak with Johnson has a logic to it, even if long term they would rue the day. In addition, there’s the inconvenience of the Select Committee inquiry into Johnson’s truth-telling (or otherwise) over what he knew about partygate and when he knew it. That could still scupper everything.”
Dale nails it. If the Conservatives do as badly in the May local Council elections as the polls suggest, MPs will face a dramatic choice. They either stick with current unloved Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and face wipe-out in 2024 in the looming General Election, or they take a massive gamble and restore Boris Johnson as Leader. The hope would be his presence at the helm would help ameliorate predicted losses in Red Walls seats and there is always the outside possibility of a win. This summer will determine the fate of Sunak and Johnson.
Lots of salesmen for Boris allege that he is ‘A great communicator’ who bravely led us through Covid and has stood shoulder to shoulder with Ukrainian leader Zelensky. They will add that ONLY Boris can reach disillusioned Tory voters and perhaps save the Party from the biggest defeat in its history.
There are a few problems with this theory not least that Boris Johnson may lose his Uxbridge Westminster seat in the next election! Then there is the Select Committee investigation into Boris Johnson over “Partygate” which could similarly destroy his chance of regaining the crown as Conservative Leader. I would add a third problem to these which is the idea that Johnson still holds the deep affections of the British voters. He doesn’t. People still remember the fact that Johnson lied to them over Lockdown parties, and many won’t forgive him that. His Party continues to pursue policies which are diametrically opposed to the interests of their core voters, and which are electoral kryptonite!
Being able to bluster and posture are the core dimensions to the Boris Johnson political personality. It is entirely conceivable that he could win the leadership of the Conservative Party later this summer/early Autumn and so return as Prime Minister, but the chaos that surrounds him will not go away and his Party will still lose to Labour in the 2024 poll. Changing the Captain on the Titanic only ever ends in the same result.