A Frosty Leadership Hunt | Ben Woods


To list Johnson’s failures would be a never-ending task. No sooner would the job appear done than another insurmountable ream of paper would thump down on your desk. From moral authority, to policy, to leadership. Lockdown, Northern Ireland, taxation, party-gate. No vision, no direction.

So why should he stay?

The answer has little to do with Boris Johnson. First, we must understand the question. The question is not do you agree with Johnson’s policy or persona. The question is not does he meet your ideals. The question is not even do you want Johnson as Prime Minister.

For each of those my answer is a resounding no. But that’s not the question. The question is: “In a choice between Johnson and his likely replacement who would you prefer as Prime Minister?”

That is a very different question. It’s no longer an abstract discussion nor even a discussion about one man’s failings. Instead, it is a relative discussion, a choice not between ideals but between realities. It is as much a discussion about the likely successor as it is the current occupant. Crucially this is a question not of removal but of replacement.

It’s also important to note the word likely in the phrase “likely successor”. Just as this isn’t a question of Johnson vs the ideal neither is it a question of Johnson vs a rising star like Badenoch or a stalwart of the Conservative right like Frost. At present the likely contenders are Truss and Hunt. The former whose personality is like a hyperactive child has backed Johnson’s policies to the hilt, or the latter who defines the dreary and whose policy ideas from Covid to Brexit is matched only by his woeful record in government in its atrociousness.

I acknowledge this amounts not to a defence of Johnson but rather an unenthusiastic acknowledgement that Lady Luck has once again stuck the hapless, embattled but crucially unchallenged PM. This shouldn’t comfort Johnson for long. As the sun starts to set, and Lady Luck rests her eyes, the frost starts to freeze the grass, and I’m sure the months and years to come will bring new challengers to the fore.


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