So Boris has gone for Leave; but as he gave the media advance warning on that score, we all knew it was coming. He held the media scrum outside his front door, keeping them waiting for his big out of the closet speech on the EU. Only it wasn’t much of a speech in the end. Rather brief and lacking in oomph. Boris is a guy who can deliver on this front too – there is a reason that you have to queue for ages and sit through some terrible Tory conference agenda bit in order to see Boris speak at Conservative Party conference every year (and why it’s usually worth in the end).
So what did he say exactly? In a rambling, semi-coherent rant, Boris said he thought we should be out of Europe because of sovereignty issues. He also said he thought Cameron had done a good job renegotiating, but the renegotiation was still crap. That he would campaign for Leave, but in what sounded like a significantly subdued way, stating that he wouldn’t think of debating a member of his own party.
That last bit was the real portion of relief for those who wish to Remain. Boris v Cameron would be a frightening roller coaster for those scared of Brexit, the prime minister having to go up against someone who the nation likes and listens to (although that is a frightening thought in and of itself, though I digress). What we on the Stay In side really want to see in terms of TV debate is Cameron v Farage. That’s because all Cameron really has to say in that one is something along the lines of “as a lifelong conservative, I think leaving right now is too risky” and he has Nigel snookered. Farage can then splutter all he wants about immigration and a terrorist showing up and killing people in Leicester Square all because of the EU, but it wouldn’t matter. He still needs to outline something he can’t, namely a guaranteed soft-landing out of the European Union.
So while having Boris on the other side is not ideal for Remain, it’s not the end of the world given the limp-wristed way BoJo seems intent on going about “campaigning”. He’s made it clear he has no intention of taking on Cameron – which is the thing he would have been most valuable on for the Leave camp. It’s hard to see him standing next to Farage and Galloway at some rally, so what is the this campaigning by Boris actually going to consist of? A few articles and the occasional radio interview over the coming months, it sounds like, offering qualified views as to why we should Leave (maybe). Everyone said Boris would be a game changer for whichever side he picked – I’m not really sure he’s going to make much of a difference in the end, particularly given the way he’s set out how he wishes to conduct himself pre-June 23rd.