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Looking forward to 2018 and the Boris versus George fight for the Tory leadership

By Tim Montgomerie
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It is, of course, absurdly early to speculate but we're allowed a bit of fun ever so often, aren't we? In yesterday's Telegraph Benedict Brogan looked into the distance and to the battle to succeed David Cameron. If all goes well we're looking at 2017/2018 when Cameron stands down as Tory leader after seven or eight years at Number 10. The expectation is that the two leading contenders for the Tory crown will be George Osborne and Boris Johnson. Let's take a quick look at their strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities...



  • If the economy is restored to health he'll be the Chancellor that fixed the British economy
  • David Cameron will probably give his friend unofficial backing in any leadership election
  • He is currently seen - by grassroots Tories - as the most effective Cabinet minister and the Tory Right are warming to him as the government's tough man
  • He has a loyal, impressive circle of ministerial and kitchen cabinet advisers including Philip Hammond, Greg Hands, Rupert Harrison and Matt Hancock
  • Has a good relationship with the newspaper editors and leading Conservative commentators including Matthew d'Ancona, Daniel Finkelstein and James Forsyth are Osborne-ites


  • If he beats Ken Livingstone again he will be a proven winner and a proven winner in London - where Conservatives often stumble
  • On crime, Europe, grammar schools and tax he voices the views of most grassroots Tories
  • He has a formidable team of advisers including Lynton Crosby, Guto Harri, Anthony Browne and Edward Lister
  • He's "Boris" - with a rock star image that transcends politics


6a00d83451b31c69e2014e88e55dc7970d-500wi George:

  • He was coordinator of the unsuccessful 2010 general election campaign
  • Many doubt that he has the common touch


  • Although over 90% of Tory members think he's doing well as Mayor of London less than half currently think he should ever be Prime Minister
  • Question marks hang over his private life
  • His support for an amnesty for illegal immigrants could upset grassroots Tories



  • To set out a new conservatism that reaches out to the striving class
  • To build support among Tory MPs while Boris is outside of parliament

Johnson Boris Man of People Boris:

  • A successful 2012 Olympics Games give a re-elected Boris a major global platform
  • If strikes mount and Cameron doesn't act, he could become the voice of Tory voters and party members calling for tougher action
  • If the Cameron government fails he could be the untainted Conservative from across the water who can rescue the party from the doldrums



  • People might be bored of Cameronism by 2017/2018 and people want something very different
  • And the biggest threat of them all: The economy goes wrong or, related, Cameron doesn't win re-election


  • The timings don't work out and he hasn't got back into parliament in time for the race to succeed David Cameron
  • A failure to reform Transport for London could be a big blight on his time as London Mayor
  • Losing the Mayoralty next year if Ken Livingstone rides a wave of mid-term Coalition unpopularity.


As I say, absurdly early to speculate. Cameron stood for the leadership after just one term as an MP. The next leader might be one of the Class of 2010.


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