I’ve written a few times already about why I believe Boris Johnson’s premiership will be a brief one. I will now outline a scenario for you involving him being deposed and replaced with Jeremy Hunt, all within roughly the next year or so. For various reasons, this process could take a little longer; this is a worst case for Boris Johnson I am about to outline.
Over the next six months, opinion on the government’s handling of the CoVid crisis hardens in all directions; everyone thinks they screwed up, often for completely different reasons. Some are convinced we didn’t go into lockdown quickly enough and this caused lost of life; others that HMG was too cautious in re-opening the economy, costing many their livelihoods. Added to this is no deal Brexit – it happens in January and is a complete mess. Rumbles about the parliamentary Conservative party defenestrating Boris start to become louder and louder. Then we have the local elections in May – and bear in mind, they will be double elections, taking in the 2020 set that hasn’t happened yet. In the face of CoVid and no deal, the Tories are walloped brutally, losing over a thousand seats. Meanwhile, Labour’s general election poll numbers have been rising and they are now between seven and ten points ahead of the Tories every time.
The end for Boris comes quicker than almost anyone had imagined. Wanting to strike in the direct shadow of the disastrous locals, the Tory backbenchers hand in their letters to the chair of the 1922 Committee. It is clear Boris has no support and he steps down. A leadership contest is called, the third one in six years. As per last time, many contenders enter the race. Sunak is considered the favourite at first. Gove gives it another try. Yet Hunt emerges as the likely winner soon enough. The advantages he has are unbeatable: he wasn’t part of the Boris Johnson government, which is the biggest one. He also screams corporate competence in an era where that has a lot of currency. Hunt gets Sunak to chuck in his bid to be leader by promising to keep him in Number 11. That done, Hunt strolls to victory.
Hunt governs early in his premiership as the anti-Boris. Pro-business, properly Conservative with all of the Leninism of the BJ administration vanquished. In order to win, he’ll have had to promise not to cave in and beg the EU for a deal that would look like a reversion to soft Brexit, so he’ll have to find some way to mitigate the negative effects of no deal without doing this, at least not immediately after getting into Number 10.
Hunt could beat Starmer in 2024 in much the same way Johnson won last time out – by presenting himself as fresh, nothing to do with the previous lot. The CoVid and no deal disasters had not happened on his watch; in fact, he can intimate that if only the Conservative membership had entrusted him with the leadership, none of it would have happened. Yes, Starmer is a solid chap. But so am I, and I don’t have the baggage of his pack of loonies trailing behind. Remember Corbyn and everything that came with him? The Labour Party hasn’t changed very much, just put a more respectable bloke up front. Forget about Starmer – do you want far left lunatics running the country?
If Hunt were to win the 2024 general election – or whenever the next one takes place – the victory would be massive for the Tories. There is a very good chance Labour could choose a terrible leader to succeed Starmer, should he step down after another Conservative victory. The left could take over the party again, leading to inevitable defeat in the election after that. Which means we would starting the 2030s with two solid decades of Tory prime ministers behind us with no end in sight. I want to stress that Hunt wouldn’t be guaranteed to beat Starmer – but he’d have a much better chance of doing so than Boris will, which I think Tories are going to realise sooner rather than later.
Again, this is a worst case scenario for Boris Johnson I have just laid out. It is possible he has some sort of big political recovery in the next year or so. Yet as I’ve said before, in order for that to happen, he either needs no deal Brexit to not be bad or to get some sort of deal from the EU at the last moment that is both practically sound (in other words, causes no serious disruption) and will keep his Eurosceptic backbenchers happy/give Farage no way in. It’s possible Boris finds a way to pull this off. I doubt he will but I have doubted him before and he’s sitting in Number 10 at present. I’d still put my money on Hunt from where I’m sitting now though.
I have a new book out now. It’s called “Politics is Murder” and follows the tale of a woman named Charlotte working at a failing think tank who has got ahead in her career in a novel way – she is a serial killer. One day, the police turn up at her door and tell her she is a suspect in a murder – only thing is, it is one she had nothing to do with. The plot takes in Conservative Party conference, a plot against the Foreign Secretary and some gangsters while Charlotte tries to find out who is trying to frame her for a murder she didn’t commit.
It’s available here: