Why we believe Boris Johnson is the right man to deliver Brexit

Why we believe Boris Johnson is the right man to deliver Brexit

As we reach the concluding stage of the Conservative leadership election, with Tory members up and down the country starting to fill in their ballot papers, it is only appropriate that we at BrexitCentral should now formally take a view as to who should be the next Prime Minister – the Prime Minister to deliver on the historic referendum result of more than three years ago and get the UK out of the European Union.

First of all, we’d like to thank all the candidates who have engaged with BrexitCentral during the campaign. From the ranks of those eliminated earlier in the process, we were pleased to publish pieces from Matt Hancock, Mark Harper, Sajid Javid, Andrea Leadsom and Dominic Raab setting out their respective visions for delivering Brexit.

As far as Brexit is concerned, we feel the centre of gravity on the Tory benches has shifted during the course of this leadership election, with those actively opposed to No Deal under any circumstances now evidently reduced to a rump. Indeed, it is significant that both finalists – Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson – are committed to leaving without a deal if the EU refuses to come to a reasonable arrangement with the British Government.

Jeremy Hunt set out his big picture vision for Brexit for us here, and elaborated on this with a ten-point delivery plan last week. There is much to recommend in many of his proposals and, since there is no monopoly on good ideas, if he is unsuccessful, we trust that the victor will take the best aspects of his plan on board. 

Hunt also deserves praise for being one of the first senior Remainers in the Government to declare that he had changed his mind on Brexit, as he did in an interview with Iain Dale on LBC in October 2017. He explained how the arrogant behaviour of the European Commission since the referendum had made him rethink his position, while also admitting that he was wrong to have believed the Project Fear predictions of short-term economic pain that we were told would result from a Leave vote.

It is both notable and regrettable that when asked whether she had changed her mind since the referendum, Theresa May repeatedly refused to answer the question, such as when she was probed by Jeremy Paxman on the matter during the 2017 general election campaign.

Boris Johnson, however, has been an unstinting and passionate advocate for leaving the European Union since a time when it was still an unfashionable, anti-Establishment view. As Mayor of London, he defied the call from Prime Minister David Cameron to row in behind the Remain campaign and became an energetic advocate for Vote Leave. (Indeed, it’s a pity that he did not take the helm of the ship of state when Cameron left office after the referendum, but let’s not rake over old coals).

And then, exactly one year ago today, Johnson again put his career on the line for the Brexit cause when he, along with David Davis and Steve Baker, resigned from the Government in protest at Theresa May’s unacceptable Chequers proposal.

In his pitch to BrexitCentral readers yesterday, Johnson explained that he feels “a deep sense of personal responsibility for Brexit” and that this is why he is best placed to see it through – an assessment with which we agree.

More than three years on from the referendum, Brexit must happen, and soon, or else there is a risk that what little remains of public confidence in the democratic process will evaporate entirely, with the traditional party system also obliterated as a by-product. Boris Johnson understands the urgency of the situation and his specific commitment to deliver Brexit by the hard deadline of 31st October makes it clear to us that he is the right candidate to replace Theresa May.

Moreover, we believe he would inject a much-needed dose of optimism and positivity into the Brexit narrative emanating from both Downing Street and Whitehall. Under Theresa May, far too many ministers and civil servants have not only been reluctant to embrace the opportunities presented by our departure from the EU but, in some cases, they have actively tried to scupper the delivery of Brexit and been allowed to undermine the UK’s negotiating position without any repercussions from Number Ten.

We anticipate that Boris Johnson would oversee a very different operation. It will be important for him to ensure that those around him in Downing Street, as well those appointed as ministers, are signed up to his vision and timetable for delivering on Brexit. Wider than that, he will need to be diligent in his choices for other impending appointments such as the next Ambassador to the United States and Mark Carney’s replacement as Governor of the Bank of England if the government is to present a cohesive vision for Brexit Britain.

There are of course many issues aside from Brexit that require urgent attention from whoever becomes Prime Minister, such as housing, adult social care and funding for those with special educational needs, to name but three. Many of the public are getting understandably and increasingly agitated that big issues like these are not getting the attention they deserve owing to the amount of bandwidth taken up in Whitehall by Brexit. This is why we judge the delivery of our departure from the EU by that forthcoming deadline of 31st October as promised by Boris Johnson to be all the more important.

Through twice winning the mayoralty of a Labour-inclined city as a Conservative and attracting support for Vote Leave from those of all creeds and classes across the nation during the referendum campaign, Boris Johnson has a proven record of getting the public behind him against the pundits’ predictions.

If ever modern Britain needed a Prime Minister who could bring people together for a cause, it is surely now and for the delivery of Brexit. Right now Brexit is unfinished business – and we believe Boris Johnson is the right man to finish the job.