Conservative Diary

Boris Johnson (Mayor)

29 Apr 2013 12:15:22

Ken Clarke is right to abuse UKIP...and Boris Johnson is right to woo it

Screen shot 2013-04-29 at 12.11.59
By Andrew Gimson

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Ken Clarke appeared on television yesterday morning in a beige roll-neck jersey of what I can only call magnificent unfashionableness. The garment proclaimed, without need for words, an Englishman’s ancient and inviolable right to wear whatever he feels comfortable in on Sunday morning, regardless of how dowdy it may look to metropolitan trendies, and regardless of whether he happens to be going on television.

Mr Clarke has another ancient English characteristic. He enjoys being rude about people. In his Sunday morning interview with Dermot Murnaghan of Sky News, he was rude about UKIP. I find it frustrating to read only the most abusive snippets from this kind of attack, which is all one gets in news reports where the journalist is having to cover a lot of ground. So here are two of the exchanges quoted at greater length, taken from the transcript prepared for Sky News.

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31 Mar 2013 08:51:47

When should Boris seek to return to the Commons? May 2015 looks most sensible.

By Tim Montgomerie
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Johnson Boris 2012 ConHome

Exactly one week ago Boris Johnson had his interview with Eddie Mair. It looked bad at the time but one day later the Michael Cockerell documentary showed Boris at his best. Accusation after accusation was thrown at London's Mayor in the one hour BBC2 programme but the post-match consensus was that he had emerged at least unscathed and probably enhanced. His larger-than-life personality helps him overcome nearly all criticisms.

Those inside Number 10 who had enjoyed Boris Johnson's Night-Mair interview were no longer smiling by Thursday. A YouGov poll showed that Boris would eliminate Labour's opinion poll if he became leader. Boris was particularly popular among the UKIP voters who have deserted David Cameron.

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25 Mar 2013 22:46:37

Boris: Cockerell cuddle follows Mair mauling

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By Paul Goodman
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What did we learn from Michael Cockerell's documentary about the Mayor of London - Boris Johnson: The Irresistable Rise - which most of us we hadn't picked up already?  We were shown some footage we hadn't seen before: Childe Boris floating down a stream in an inflatable raft, during the pre-lapsarian age of innocence before the era of health and safety.  Some enchanting interview clips of his mother, Charlotte Johnson Wahl, flickered briefly across the screen.  We were granted a glimpse of a slimmer, younger, less stammer-prone Boris in his Oxford Union days.  More old film.  But were there any new insights?

Cockerell is an experienced maker of political documentaries with a standard technique - namely, of putting his subjects in front of videos that are either of or about themselves.  The aim is to allow the viewer to see them spooked by their own image: to embarrass them into blurting out, in some unstoppable moment of self-realisation, the truth about themselves.  The iron fist of this ruthless procedure is concealed in a velvet glove.  Cockerall has a manner so aimiable as to lull those subjects - not to mention the viewer - into a sense of false security.  So it is that Boris was ambushed by both the Darius Guppy tape and that Bullingdon photograph.

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24 Mar 2013 17:58:56

Round up of reactions to Boris Johnson's Night-Mair interview

By Tim Montgomerie
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Boris Johnson's critics are in upbeat mood today - after today's less-than-successful interview with Eddie Mair on BBC1 (watch here) and ahead of tomorrow night's Michael Cockerell documentary;

Sonia Purnell, his controversial and unauthorised biographer tells Guardian readers that his detractors "have been curiously muted until now" but, she hopes, that might be about to change.

Reflecting on the Mayor's Night-Mair interview the LibDem blogger Stephen Tall captured the general view that it will have hurt the man who was joint favourite to succeed David Cameron: "For most of the 10 minutes — and perhaps for the first time ever — Boris looked as if he would rather be anywhere else than beneath the glare of the TV lights. This was his reckoning, and he looked winded, lumbering like a past-his-prime former heavyweight champion. Only at the very end did we glimpse again the rambunctious front Boris likes to project, but by then it was too late."

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6 Jan 2013 16:58:32

Boris is (again) GQ's most influential man in Britain (and nine other things you need to know about its list of top 100 men)

By Tim Montgomerie
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Screen Shot 2013-01-05 at 16.21.53

Cover boy - Boris sporting a very nice silk and patriotic handkerchief in his suit pocket.

It's that time of year again when GQ names the one hundred most influential men in Britain. I've read it so you don't have to. In no particular order of importance (or silliness) here are ten observations on the list...

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29 Dec 2012 06:44:27

The Conservative achievement of 2012 was the re-election of Boris Johnson

By Tim Montgomerie
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Over the last couple of days we published the first two of ten picks of 2012 - as chosen by ConHome readers; Jesse Norman won the backbencher of the year award and, less happily, Nick Clegg won Yellow B**tard of the Year.

In the contest for Conservative achievement of 2012 there were four categories and the winner was Boris Johnson's re-election with 41.4% of the vote. The other nominations were...

  • Continuing reforms of schools, welfare and local government, scoring 29.3%;
  • A successful London 2012, scoring 16.6%; and
  • A reduction in health waiting times, crime, unemployment, immigration and borrowing, winning 12.6% of votes.


At the time I explained Boris Johnson's success in terms of three key factors...

"(1) Boris has never neglected Conservative values: "Some Right-wing Tories like to think that Boris has prospered because of his opposition to the euro, his hawkish approach to crime and his support for lower taxes.  These things have indeed been ingredients of his successful political recipe. He has never lost the support of core Tories because he has never forgotten that vital American maxim that you ‘dance with the one that brung you’.""

"Never" might have been over-stating it but "rarely" is close to the truth.

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16 Dec 2012 12:08:45

Now Boris wants a European referendum "before 2015"

By Matthew Barrett
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Boris flip flopsAfter backing a European referendum - in March he signed up to the People's Pledge, no less - and spending some time as the most prominent Conservative supporter of an in/out vote, Boris has spent the last few weeks backing away from his position. After being in favour of in/out, Boris rejected such a "simple" choice, and then argued that the referendum should be on Britain's membership of the single market.

His position seems to be that a referendum should be held following negotiations, and the question should ask people whether they want to stay in a single market-only Europe, or leave. On the Andrew Marr Show this morning, the Mayor of London's position seems to have entered the next stage of development. He hasn't fundamentally changed his position, but he now says that in an ideal world, any such referendum would take place before 2015:

"I happen to think, by the way, that the result, I don’t think that [leaving the EU] is necessarily the end of the world ... My preferred option is for us to stay in there. ... "It can’t [wait]. To a certain extent, this is now driven by the feeling that a lot of people have, that it was 1975 when the people were first put a clear proposition by Europe and it was a long time ago. Lots of other countries had referendums on the succeeding treaties and we’re never had a popular votes since ’75 on the European question. I would like to be able to campaign for the single market and a withdrawal from a lot of the nonsensical policies. ... I think it would be a good idea if they did it before 2015, it would be fantastic - but I can’t see them doing it before 2015. But all this will be revealed in a speech that is forthcoming."

The sense of urgency will probably re-endear Boris to some out-ers who would have been concerned by his recent manoeuvres. However people view his stance, we have confirmation that Boris will end 2012 believing we still need a relationship with Europe.

13 Dec 2012 08:27:15

You integrate if you want to, the PM’s not for integrating

By Peter Hoskin
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I doubt David Cameron will paraphrase Margaret Thatcher in his meeting with European leaders today, but the headline I’ve used above more or less sums up the attitude that he is taking to Brussels. According to a report in today’s Telegraph, the PM is set to back plans for closer political and economic integration in the Eurozone — the “you integrate if you want to”. But, as James Forsyth suggests in the Spectator, he wants to use that to remould Britain’s participation in the EU, away from that core of eurozone countries — “the PM’s not for integrating”.

How this might work in practice was suggested by a very important development last night. As the FT reports (£), it appears that George Osborne has won safeguards against a European banking union. Britain won’t be part of any such union, of course, but the Chancellor was concerned that it could wield undue influence over certain banks, such as Deutsche Bank, which operate within our shores — and so he’s been proposing “double majority” voting, whereby decisions relating to the banking union also have to be approved by a plurality of countries outside of it. Now that protection seems to have been secured, it sets a one helluva precedent for a future two-tier Europe.

But all of this is unlikely to quell the PM’s European troubles back home. He’s delayed his long-awaited speech on the issue once again, it seems, which will aggravate some folk. And then there’s the argument that Boris made last week, that encouraging closer integration in the Eurozone in “morally wrong”. He’d prefer Britain to simply withdraw anyway, into a relationship with Europe based almost exclusively on trade. To which, there’s the question put forward by Damian Green last night: would Europe ever allow that?

5 Dec 2012 07:52:49

Cameron and Boris both want renegotiation not exit --- but both seem ready to give voters an In/Out choice

By Tim Montgomerie
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"The London Mayor forces the pace on Europe, telling the Prime Minister to sever most of our ties with Brussels and hold an in-out referendum on a bare bones relationship."

That's the verdict of today's Sun on yesterday's speech by Boris Johnson on Europe and it looks like we may not have to wait long for Cameron to respond to the Mayor's lead.

This morning's Times (£) reports that the Prime Minister is also ready to give the British people an In/Out referendum at some point in the next parliament:

"Mr Cameron would urge the public to support a looser relationship with Brussels that he hopes to negotiate over the coming years. But he is ready to give the country the chance to say “no” to such a deal, a result that would effectively be seen as a vote to quit the EU, at least on the proposed terms."

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4 Dec 2012 10:24:49

Boris furthers his retreat from an In-Out referendum. So why did he sign up for one in the first place?

By Paul Goodman
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Until recently, Boris Johnson seemed to be offering himself as the leader of the movement within the party for an In-Out referendum.  This push to the head of the queue stretched through David Cameron's difficult summer, during which Nick Clegg came out against the boundary reform plan he'd previously backed, all the way to the autumn's party conference, at which the Mayor was greeted like a rock star.

That Boris didn't declare for Out passed some of these enthusiasts by.  It shouldn't have done - for despite writing some of the wittiest critiques of Brussels ever penned, this son of a former Euro MP has never been an Outer.  And this morning, in a speech at Reuters, he has consolidated the about-turn he made recently on his support for the People's Pledge - which he signed earlier this year, thus exciting those expectations about his support for an In-Out poll in the first place.

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