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Episode Info:

We try to work out what the current favourite to be next Tory leader actually stands for. Can his time as Mayor of London tell us what kind of PM he might be? Will his journalistic past come back to haunt him? Does he have a political philosophy beyond 'doing Brexit'? Plus we discuss whether the Johnson-Trump comparisons really stand up. With Helen Thompson and Chris Brooke.


Talking Points:


What does Boris Johnson stand for?

  • He’s emphasizing is his experience as Mayor of London, especially his ability to assemble a good team (of course this can be debated).
  • But the other side of his pitch is about Brexit, and the politics of that are going to overshadow everything that a Johnson cabinet could do.
  • He would need a chancellor to do a lot of heavy lifting. Who would that person be? And is Johnson self-aware enough to see this?
  • Johnson wallows in imperial nostalgia. This puts him in direct opposition to Corbyn. Could this lead to more public sparring over foreign policy?


Could Johnson’s journalistic past create problems for him?

  • On the one hand, the people he offends aren’t likely to vote for him anyways. It’s hard to imagine a skeleton that would cut across political divides.
  • Michael Gove is clearly being held to a different standard right now. In some ways, Johnson has set himself outside of the traditional boundaries of political morality.
  • At the end of the day, however, the Conservative Party needs someone who can appeal to the Brexiteers, even if it might lose them some support elsewhere.


Does Johnson have a political philosophy?

  • He’s not particularly ideological.
  • His best pitch might be tax cuts plus Brexit, which looks a lot like Trump.
  • A lot of Conservative MP’s don’t like Johnson at all—they think he’s only out for himself.


Hunt is saying that the one thing we cannot have is an election; Johnson is saying the one thing that we cannot do is stay in the EU. Which is riskier?

  • The Conservative Party is in a bind, and it’s not clear how it will get out of this crisis.
  • But the problems run deeper than the Party.
  • Part of the reason for this impasse is that politicians keep postponing the moment of reckoning. Nothing that has happened so far has changed the fundamental issues.


Mentioned in this Episode:


Further Learning:


And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking


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