Four reasons why a Boris Johnson return could end in disaster

“Boris Johnson divides opinion in the Tory party and the country alike. His Conservative supporters believe he is the only person who would stand a chance of winning the next election for them…….But other Tories believe a second stint in No 10 would be even more of a disaster than the first one, and the short leadership of Liz Truss, for the following reasons.”

Intruding on private grief – Owl

Toby Helm www.theguardian.com 

Boris Johnson divides opinion in the Tory party and the country alike. His Conservative supporters believe he is the only person who would stand a chance of winning the next election for them. They point out that despite having been ousted in July he still has a mandate, having won an 80 seat majority for the Tories at the 2019 general election. Because of that, they argue that calls by Labour and other parties for a general election would have far less resonance under a Johnson Mark II premiership. But other Tories believe a second stint in No 10 would be even more of a disaster than the first one, and the short leadership of Liz Truss, for the following reasons.

His return would split, possibly destroy, the party

Weighed down by scandals, including Partygate, Johnson was forced to quit in July after more than 50 government ministers and aides resigned, saying they could no longer back him. Most Conservative MPs thought he should go by that time and a large majority of voters. If he were to return – as if his removal had not been driven by issues of principle – many of those same MPs and ex-ministers would be enraged. Large numbers of former ministers would refuse to serve or back Johnson and some backbench MPs would quit the party. A parliamentary party already riven by splits would be potentially ungovernable at the time of an economic crisis and when the Tories are about 30 points behind in the polls.

The worst of Partygate – and Johnson’s role in it – is yet to come 

Tory and Labour MPs say investigations by the Commons privileges committee into whether Johnson misled MPs over Covid rule-breaking parties in No 10 are turning up such devastating evidence that he could “be gone by Christmas” if he were reinstalled. A large amount of documents from inside No 10 have already been handed over to Labour’s Harriet Harman, who is chairing the inquiry by the Commons privileges committee. Evidence sessions at which Johnson is expected to appear will begin in November. Such a prospect has already persuaded the likes of Dominic Raab, the former deputy prime minister under Johnson, to think again about attempting a comeback that could land him and his party into even deeper crisis. For the Tory party to lose another leader (albeit a retread) after just a matter of weeks would probably be terminal. If Johnson is found to have misled the Commons, he could be suspended, making his position untenable.

The economy and the markets would be destabilised – again.

Johnson has never been one for fiscal discipline and following the disaster of Liz Truss’s unfunded tax cuts, his return could unsettle the financial markets again, after Jeremy Hunt brought some calm by scrapping Truss’s economic plan. Johnson is also personally associated with many of the high-cost levelling up infrastructure projects that will probably be in the chancellor’s sights in cutting public spending. The return of Johnson would look like a backward step and is unlikely to signal more stable times ahead to the financial markets.

The rightwing press, and public opinion

On Saturday, even some leading rightwing commentators were arguing that Johnson should stand aside and not attempt a comeback. His time had passed. This was the view of Charles Moore in his Daily Telegraph column. There were signs too that the Sun and Daily Mail were hedging their bets, keen not to back a loser, as they had done with Truss, and seeing the dangers of another act of Tory self-harm.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.