The resurrection of Boris Johnson splits the Conservative Party in two | International
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Boris Johnson has enormous flaws, but also great abilities. Most notable is his ability to see where the wind of the times is blowing. That is the reason why he has allowed his allies to start mounting the campaign for his possible return to the political arena, while he measures the temperature from a distance. In fact, while the eternal commotion around his figure arose again, the former British Prime Minister was still on vacation in the Dominican Republic, and it was not until this Friday that he decided to advance his return to London. At 10:20 this Saturday (11:20 Spanish peninsular time), the British Airways plane that was bringing him back landed at London’s Gatwick airport. Some British televisions have chosen to broadcast the arrival live.
Conservatives today are divided between those who think that Johnson’s resurrection is a ridiculous and preposterous idea, that it will end up sinking the party; and those faithful to the controversial politician, convinced that the time has come to vindicate him. In the middle, the repentant or doubtful people who, given what was seen during the month and a half of Liz Truss’s mandate, begin to think that Johnson’s expulsion in July was premature, and that his electoral magic can once again get them out of the quagmire in the that are found.
Up to six members of the current government have already publicly expressed their support, with some nuance, for the possible candidacy of who remains the most popular British politician in recent decades. Defense Minister Ben Wallace – an eternal favorite for many deputies, but who has once again ruled himself out as a candidate – has made clear his “inclination” to support Johnson. “He still has to answer some questions about the Downing Street party scandal, which remains under parliamentary investigation, but he has a mandate [de las urnas]and the latter is something very important that we should not forget”, said Wallace.
The most notorious of the supporters has been Jacob Rees-Mogg, the eccentric leader of the Eurosceptics, today Minister for Business, Energy and Industry, who has even launched the hashtags #BorisorBust (Boris or the disaster). Along with Nadine Dorries, the former Minister of Culture, she belongs to the small circle that has kept the flame of devotion to Johnson burning, while the rest of the party has tried to turn the page in recent months.
Simon Clarke, the minister for the Leveling of the Territories (that idea that Johnson did not stop promoting during his mandate, which he even raised to ministerial rank, but that never materialized in anything), has joined the johnson wagon. “He achieved one of the biggest electoral victories in recent years [diciembre del 2019], with a mandate to unite and level the UK. And he succeeded in inspiring millions of people who had never before voted for the Conservative Party, to support a generous and optimistic vision of what the United Kingdom could become, ”Clarke wrote on Friday in the Daily Telegraph.
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Much more relevant to the cause of the former prime minister, however, may be the endorsement, announced this very Saturday, of Priti Patel. The person who was his Minister of the Interior, and the executor of a toughening of the immigration policy applauded by the hard wing of the party, has decided to join the battle: “Boris has the mandate to carry out our program, and a proven track record of make the right decision in big matters. I support him in the fight for leadership [del Partido Conservador]”, Patel wrote on Twitter.
Faced with this nostalgic version of Johnson, his detractors recall the national humiliation caused by the scandal of the prohibited parties in Downing Street during confinement; the lies and resignations incurred by the then prime minister; the weariness expressed by many citizens through the surveys; the cascading resignation of more than 60 members of his Government, when his decadence was evident, and the very fact, as Minister Wallace admitted, that the politician is still under investigation, in the Ethics Commission of Parliament, for possible perjury, by misleading MPs with his statements in the House of Commons.
“We need someone competent, at a time of great economic challenge for this country. Boris Johnson has always focused on the big picture, never on the details,” David Lidington, who was chief of staff to former Prime Minister Theresa May, and who remains a widely heard voice among moderate conservatives, told the BBC. . “He was never able to name a couple of ministers who had delegated authority to get things done. He just had a bunch of advisers in Downing Street, more concerned with talking to the press and yelling at each other all the time,” Lidington recalled.
And his was one of the mildest criticisms of an idea that is inconceivable to many Tories. “It would be impossible for me to stay in office if Boris returned as prime minister,” MP John Baron, a former military man and a great defender of Brexit, but still very critical of the previous Downing Street tenant, told the BBC. “I am convinced that he lied to Parliament on several occasions. We have to look forward, not back”, requested Baron, who also suggested that there would be a considerable number of deputies who could leave the conservative parliamentary group if Johnson returned to command.
“The prime minister that we need right now must cover all areas and show his face. Connect with citizens, with financial markets or with unions. All these things suppose technical problems of difficult solution. Frankly, it is not a terrain for Boris’s skills,” said former minister and Eurosceptic MP David Davis before directly asking the former prime minister “to stay on the beach.”
“His return, a solution? It would be going round and round again, in a death spiral for the Conservative Party ”, he has told TimesRadio William Hague, who was leader of the formation, anointed by Margaret Thatcher. “It is the worst idea I have heard in the 46 years that I have been a militant in conservatism.”
the real possibilities
Supporters of Johnson’s return assure, without providing data, that he will have no problem exceeding the threshold of 100 endorsements from deputies that the Conservative Party has imposed to restrict the time and number of candidates for primaries that it wishes to speed up as much as possible. The 100 guarantees must be submitted before 2:00 p.m. (3:00 p.m., Spanish peninsular time) next Monday, in order to compete. That limits the number of contenders to a maximum of three, which, in a first vote on the afternoon of that same Monday, would be reduced to two. Throughout the rest of the week, until Friday, October 28, members will vote online.
From the moment the rules became known, suspicions spread that the endorsement threshold had been established precisely to prevent a Johnson comeback. The pools that the media shuffled, with limited reliability, granted, on Friday night, between 90 and 100 endorsements to the former Minister of Economy, Rishi Sunak, who would become the first of the candidates to overcome the challenge; about 45 to Johnson and about 22 to Penny Mordaunt.
Mordaunt, the current leader of the House of Commons (a position similar to the Spanish Secretary for Relations with the Courts, but with a ministerial rank) announced her candidacy on Friday. In the first round of the last primaries, the one held between the deputies Tories before the vote went to the grassroots, Mordaunt came in third place, and was briefly the favorite among MPs and members. She then garnered the support of 105 deputies, to whom she aspires to have her part again.
In a more open competition, Johnson could hope to snatch Mordaunt from much of his endorsement, most of it coming from the far right wing of the party. But the 100-endorsement requirement makes the competition very uphill, even for someone as popular with the rank-and-file — but not as popular with Conservative MPs — as the former prime minister. And that is why many suspect that Johnson will only finally take the step if he is guaranteed at least a second position, which allows him to continue fighting among the affiliates. It is in this terrain where his chances would increase, and where the fragmentation of the party would be definitively consummated.
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