Sunday, February 21, 2016

The EU Referendum 2 - Boris votes for Boris

After an "agonising decision", my MP Boris Johnson has opted for the UK to leave the EU. Did it really hinge on an exhausting examination of the terms of the weekend deal? Or a cynical political calculation which goes like this.

1) Johnson placed himself to replace Cameron if the Tories had failed to win the 2015 general election.
2) Cameron's unexpected victory wrong-footed all of his rivals and his announcement that he would stand down before the next election shut them up pro tem.
3) Cameron's mate George Osborne is the obvious replacement, the man who can undertake to carry on Cameron's policies.
4) So Johnson's hopes of becoming leader of the party and next PM rest on Cameron & Osborne getting a severe setback.
5) Such a setback can only now be if they commit to a Yes result in the referendum (which I assume they will) and the nation votes No.
6) Ergo, Johnson has to be seen as effectively heading the No vote, although given the various parties already committed to that cause, he is unlikely to be the titular leader of any of them.
7) If Cameron wins the referendum then Johnson has not lost much; he will have got a lot of exposure and he can continue to place himself as the alternative to Cameron/Osborne when the time comes. If he loses then Boris can put himself forward as the voice of the people, or something similar.

So I suspect the "agonising" was about whether the above line of reasoning was valid. Because if Boris was really convinced that the UK should not be in the EU he could have made that known a long time ago.

It's a shame that such a charismatic political figure should have opted for a very short-term political judgement on a matter that will be of great importance to the country, and to Europe, for maybe the next thirty years. In my opinion he should have made the long term judgement and for such a scholar of classical history, the lessons from two thousand years of splintered and fractious European nation-states ought to have been learned.

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