Boris Johnson declared his candidacy today. The Guardian’s Tom Kibasi speculates on his strategy – pick a fight with the EU, make Brexit the issue and call an election. Do a deal with Farage and save Britain from Corbyn. Will it work?
A poll in the Torygraph, where Johnson is a columnist, has him winning in a landslide. Count me as sceptical on that. Other commentators think that Corbyn and Labour will be devastated.
But that is what they said before the 2017 election. Jason Crowley, editor of the New Statesman, produced an issue just days before the election predicting a Labour wipeout.
Theresa May had the same view, She called the election, overruling the five-year statutory term, to give herself a strong mandate to deliver Brexit. The hung-Parliament outcome proved the pundits wrong.
The Brexit vote in 2015 at 17% mostly went to the Tories. Lib Dems went to Labour. Labour increased its vote by the largest percentage for several elections, based on its strong manifesto. The result also showed campaigns matter, with a spike in the Labour vote comparable to the New Zealand election.
For Johnson’s strategy to work he has to make Brexit the only issue for the campaign. Labour will have to make the issue an end to austerity and a better future for the many in Britain.
Johnson will have Sir Lynton Crosby, fresh from another triumph in Australia, as his adviser. Expect a black-banner negative and very personal attack on Corbyn. The good news for Corbyn is that with all the attacks on him from friend and foe he has the hide of a rhinoceros, and a track record of turning negatives into positives based on his principled values.
The election results for the European Parliament are likely to be an expression of frustration over Brexit rather than a choice for government in the UK. Labour also has a strong campaigning machine still in place as the recent Peterborough by-election demonstrated.
I think Johnson may well go for it. And it will not surprise me. if hubris is his downfall.