It should come as little surprise that Boris Johnson is running for prime minister once more. In a context of historically low polls for the Conservatives, and a disastrous set of EU election results, the celebrity of Boris Johnson is said to be the Conservative’s best chance of defeating Corbyn.
Perhaps five years ago, I would have agreed with you. Today, the British political landscape is volatile. Trust in our democratic institutions has never been lower. At a crucial moment in our national history, we need a leader, not a showman. You don’t beat Corbyn by out-Johnsoning him. You don’t solve Brexit, by crashing out with no deal.
The problem with Boris Johnson is that he talks in platitudes. Like Trump he diagnoses an issue, and aims to rectify it by pitting one against another. Complex issues are distilled to a single one liner. His oratory skills are unparalleled in our political class, but they will not solve the burning injustices we face in our country today.
His legacy as foreign secretary? Choosing not to uphold the equal rights of LGBT+ Bermudans and Caymanians. The imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. And, don’t forget, flying to Afghanistan to avoid a vote on Heathrow’s third runway.
His hopes for the future? Unlocking British enterprise by taking the attitude of “f**k business”.
This is a man who described women wearing the burka as “looking like letter boxes”. This is a man who criticised the police for spending money on historic cases of child sex abuse. Taking aside his incompetence, these attitudes make his values incompatible with that of Britain in 2019. He claims to want to take us forward, yet he is looking to engage us in a ‘Churchillian’ battle for independence from the EU, when what we need, is someone with the integrity, ability to compromise, and the vision to chart a new course forward. One that embraces the best of who we are as a people, and not only embraces the rich tapestry that is our diverse society, but champions it.
If Boris Johnson was to become elected as leader of the Conservative Party, and therefore become our next prime minister, I could only hope that he would prove me wrong. The problem is he has had every opportunity in the past to prove us wrong before. A record of incompetence and division is not conducive to that of a prospective prime minister.
His record in public life points to someone who is temperamentally unfit to be prime minister. Our party, and our country are better without him in our politics. Put simply, we deserve better than Boris Johnson.
At this crucial juncture in our national history we need a prime minister who can embark us upon a journey of national renewal; to deal with the burning injustices we face as a country, to bridge the divide between Remainers and Leavers, to equip our young people with the skills they need for the jobs of the future and to champion notions of aspiration.
Boris Johnson may see himself as our Churchill. Today, we should perhaps be following Disraeli in our pursuit of change. To ride out to meet it, and use it as the vessel by which we build a fairer and stronger country. One which we can truly call a United Kingdom.