Boris Johnson, the former head of the UK Foreign Office, has emerged as the favourite to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May, according to a poll conducted by conservativehome.com, which supports the ruling Conservative Party, The Independent reports.
Johnson currently commands support of 29% of ordinary Tory activists, a fourfold increase since July 9, 2018, when he resigned as foreign secretary over his disagreement with Theresa May’s Brexit plan.
The poll shows that Johnson is 10% ahead of his nearest rival, home secretary Sajid Javid, which makes him a definite leader in the potential race for the prime minister’s seat.
MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, a vocal supporter of Brexit within the Conservative Party, also made it to the top 3, with 13.3% of respondents favoring him. Yet another Euroskeptic, environment minister Michael Gove, is supported by 7.3% of about 1,400 Tory activists that took part in the survey.
Another poll conducted in July by the YouGov sociological service showed that Johnson topped the rating of politicians able to carry out Brexit better than May. In that poll, 38% supporters of the UK’s biggest political forces – the Conservative and Labour Parties – voted in his favor.
The same poll showed that about 38% of respondents would be willing to vote for a new right-wing party determined to go through with Brexit, while 24% would support an ultra-right anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim political force.
Once again, Boris Johnson resigned on July 9, 2018. He had served as foreign secretary for just under two years, since July 13, 2016. In his resignation letter addressed to Prime Minister May, he stated that he decided to quit because he realized that the government did not share his stance on Brexit, of which he had been one of the main initiators, back under Prime Minister David Cameron. He demanded a tougher scenario for leaving the European Union, while May favors a “soft Brexit”.
Johnson stated that the Brexit “dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt”, while the direction offered by May meant that the UK was headed for “the status of a colony”.
Remarkably, Brexit became an apple of discord in the May government, also leading to resignation of David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. By the way, the talks on the Brexit agreement between Brussels and London are progressing with great difficulty, stalled since March over an issue of setting up a border between Ireland, which remains an EU member, and Northern Ireland, which is leaving the EU as part of the UK…
Going back to the above poll of Tory supporters, it is hardly possible to find in UK a public figure, more popular (especially in London) and known than Boris Johnson. And his popularity is mostly due not to his outstanding abilities or achievements at various positions within the government or as the mayor of London, but rather to his extraordinary statements and unpredictable behavior. It is no coincidence that British media have nicknamed him “clown Boris”.
To a large extent, Johnson’s character and manners can be explained through his genealogy: he has in him the blood of the Ottomans, Germans, French and even Russians. As to his Russian roots, his maternal great-grandfather was paleographer Elias Avery Lowe, born to a Jewish family in Kalvarija, Lithuania, then part of the Russian Empire. His paternal great-grandmother was Circassian and flew from Russia during the Caucasian war in the 19th century. Boris himself was named after a Russian immigrant, supporter of the White movement, whom his parents befriended in Mexico.
Unfortunately, his Russian roots did not instill in Johnson any loyalty towards Russia: he is one of the most vocal critics of it in the United Kingdom. However, we are discussing a different topic today, and that is the acute shortage of high-ranking politicians on the British political landscape, if such a notorious person as Boris Johnson can be viewed as prime minister material.
Speaking about one of Britain’s most popular politicians today, we need to acknowledge that his behavior is in a way similar to that of US President Donald Trump, who described Johnson as his “best friend” immediately after he quit the cabinet. In an interview with The Sun given during his recent visit to the UK, Trump said directly that Johnson would make a great prime minister. And this is with Theresa May alongside!
Only Trump knows what he means by a “great prime minister”. But it is obvious that Boris Johnson is by any criterion inferior even to many “mediocre” prime ministers of the past, not to say anything about such grand figures as, for example, Sir Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.
But right now the United Kingdom does not have politicians of that scale. No matter how hard Theresa May is trying to resemble Margaret Thatcher, she is a far cry from the Iron Lady. Britain is likely to suffer from the lack of top class politicians for years to come.