BREXIT cheerleader Boris Johnson’s decision not to declare for the Conservative Party leadership contest, having been the one of the main architects of the events that led to Prime Minister David Cameron’s declaration of his intention to resign, is further confirmation that the former Mayor of London’s number one interest is himself. Anyone in a similar position would show the courage of their convictions and try to copperfasten their credibility with the electorate by putting their name forward, but not Boris, especially when he sensed the odds were against him.
He also saw the size and complexity of the job that faces the next Tory leader and Prime Minister in dealing with the implementation of the referendum decision for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. That seems like a lot of work with potential for major headaches.
After two terms as Mayor of London, which suited his eccentricity and gave him a very high profile, Johnson was at a loose end earlier this year and looking for a cause to help him boost his political career. He found this by espousing the populist leave cause in the referendum on the EU and gave the campaign a big boost with his larger-than-life persona, much to the chagrin of his former Eton schoolmate David Cameron, who wanted Britain to remain in the EU.
The bother began for Boris when the leave side – somewhat even to their own surprise – won the plebiscite and the realisation dawned on him that the wide-ranging and serious consequences of the decision would have to be dealt with, preferably by a senior figure in the Conservative Party that campaigned for the Brexit. Granted, Johnson’s leadership ambitions were thwarted by Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove declaring his candidacy, but this may have suited Boris just as well as – by his own admission – he did not see himself as the person best suited for a job that will involve huge application, patience and diplomacy.
Ironically, the frontrunner for the leadership of party and country is Home Secretary Theresa May, who backed the remain campaign. Having to take on the negotiations surrounding the British divorce from the EU may prove uncomfortable for her, but the will of the people needs to be acted upon.
There is a huge leadership vacuum in the two main political parties in the UK, with the Tories seeking a new leader and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn being put under massive pressure to resign after failing to mobilise his party members in sufficient numbers to vote to remain in the EU. It comes at a time when decisive leadership was never so urgently needed.
Then we had Nigel Farage quitting (again) as UKIP leader, like Boris Johnson, walking away from the Brexit mess.