logo
POST TIME: 10 July, 2019 00:00 00 AM
It’s Brexit, stupid: the appeal of Boris
AFP, London

It’s Brexit, stupid: the appeal of Boris

There is a long charge sheet against Britain’s Boris Johnson but among Conservative party activists who will choose the country’s next prime minister, Brexit appears to trump everything.

The former foreign minister and ex-London mayor is accused of lying, incompetence and using divisive rhetoric, and also faces questions over his colourful private life.

But he led the campaign to take Britain out of the EU in the 2016 referendum and his promise to deliver on that vote, come what may, has made him the runaway favourite now to take power in Downing Street.

“Boris has a following in places a long way from London where people are very cross that they’ve voted for Brexit and it hasn’t happened,” said biographer Andrew Gimson.

Prime Minister Theresa May will step down this month after failing to get her EU divorce deal through parliament, twice delaying Britain’s departure date.

Johnson is vying with current foreign minister Jeremy Hunt to replace her, with the winner elected by 160,000 party members of the ruling Conservatives.

Both candidates say keeping the latest Brexit deadline of October 31 is a priority, even if that means a disorderly “no deal” departure. Tory members are clear about what they want. A YouGov survey last month found 54 percent would sacrifice their party to ensure Brexit happens, and 61 percent would even accept significant damage to the economy.

But another YouGov poll this weekend found that while 90 percent believed Johnson would follow through on his “no deal” threat, only 27 percent thought the same of Hunt.