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There’s no conceivable path for him to become leader again

todayAugust 13, 2023 4

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There’s no conceivable path for him to become leader again

It reads like a declaration of war – but in reality, Friday’s resignation statement matters because Boris Johnson is throwing in the towel on his political career.

Yes, there are hints of a third political comeback in his kinetic resignation statement.

“Never write him off,” say the pundits in the cheap seats.

Yes, there will be MPs bemoaning his departure if the Tories underwhelm at the next general election and calling for him to return. But he will not be there.

Johnson had a choice this week – and he could have chosen to remain.

That would have meant to stand and fight the verdict of the privileges committee, with all the opprobrium that he feels is unfairly heaped upon him.

Politics live: Boris Johnson quits

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Former PM Boris Johnson resigns

Then he would have had to watch as Tory MPs were asked to decide whether to back him.

Yes, some would. But despite the vocal minority of supporters, my conversations suggest that the raw numbers prepared to side with Boris Johnson against a Tory-dominated committee accusing him of deliberately misleading the Commons in pitiless detail may not have gone well for the former PM.

In the event he lost the vote and faced 10 or more days of suspension, he would also face the prospect of a by-election in his Uxbridge constituency.

Its 7,210 majority is well within the margin that could be swept away, which would be a decisively mortifying end to his political career.

Even if he won that vote, what would it be for?

There is no conceivable path to him becoming leader again.

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‘Johnson wasn’t good Uxbridge representative’

He would continue as he has since being slung out as PM – the ghost at the Tory feast, undermining Sunak and, should the Tories lose the next election, his successors.

Nobody has the ability to suck the oxygen out of the room like Johnson, with the media and a slice of the Conservative Party still hanging off his every word as if it mattered – that will not help current or future leadership contests.

So instead, Johnson opted to leave. It was the bold choice, but one in his self-interest.

This gives him a fighting chance of an exit on his own terms – taking aim at enemies inside and out of the Conservative party and to draft his own first version of history – all with the timing of his choosing and the spotlight firmly on what he wants people to see.

Read More:
Resignation statement in full
What led to former PM’s shock resignation?

It frees him to continue with massive earnings outside Westminster – now without the burden of declaring it in the Register of Members Interests.

And he will continue to comment on politics – perhaps he might return to a column in The Daily Telegraph?

Perhaps he might help buy The Daily Telegraph?

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All with the small but vocal hardline supporters suggesting his ousting the reason for the likely electoral difficulties faced by his successor.

There was no sign on Friday night that his departure had triggered a Tory civil war – allies like Priti Patel and Simon Clarke pensive but restrained.

No sign of more by-elections beyond the two already known.

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‘Boris brought this on himself’

Now he can concentrate on honing his legacy – yes the 2019 election, Brexit, vaccine and leading the world on Ukraine, but also upending the way politics works in this country. His method was unlikely to unite, but will never be forgotten.

He will never shun the limelight, his momentous decision was about making sure it shows his best side. That’s why, once more, on Friday he voted to leave: to preserve the myth, and not put it to test against reality.

Written by: Newsroom

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