Now that we have the “Gang of Six”, the members of Cameron’s cabinet who have decided to break ranks and openly support Brexit, one of their ranks being Michael Gove, everyone is waiting to see which side in the EU debate Boris will support. The London mayor has said previously that he will come down with “deafening eclat” on one side or the other in regards to this issue. But the thing is, while it still matters to the relevant campaigns which side BoJo picks, to the future career prospects of Boris Johnson, deals with Cameron aside, it really no longer matters. Boris has missed his moment already.
It was eaten by Michael Gove. The justice secretary came out at the right time with the right pitch. We hear now that Cameron is “putting the squeeze” on Boris to support a Remain vote, and that Gove is chivying him to go the other way. The point being that in either scenario, Boris is a follower not a leader. He had a chance to appear to be an original thinking, but that has passed him by as everyone has chosen a side and he looks like the last kid picked in a schoolyard football match.
In fact, I would say whatever he does now, Boris will kind of look bad. If he supports Remain, it appears like he’s caved into the prime minister’s demands for careerist reasons; if he gets behind Leave, it will just look like he’s following Gove’s lead; if he stays clear of the whole thing, he’s got that ridiculous “deafening eclat” line making him look silly.
Boris should have picked a side a long time ago and stuck with it. Or told the world he wasn’t very fussed and vowed to stay out of it all. Now, he’s boxed himself into an impossible political position.
So what will Boris do? Who knows, it really is impossible to say at this stage. All I know is, the answer to that question matters a great deal less than it did even a week ago.