‘Johnson has one final shot at being leader then it’s all over’
BORIS JOHNSON thinks the Conservative Party will turn to a younger generation of MPs for its next leader, the journalist behind a documentary about him has claimed.
The Foreign Secretary believes Mrs May’s premiership could last less than a year and has asked friends about his prospects, according to Gary Gibbon, Channel Four’s political editor.
The claims, made in an article for The I newspaper, come after Mr Gibbon followed the Tory MP for the documentary, titled Boris Johnson: Blond Ambition, which airs tonight.
“Johnson has told friends that the party’s eyes are already turning to a new generation of MPs.” Mr Gibbon wrote. “Those close to Johnson say he thinks he probably has one more go at the top job in him and then it’s really over.”
The comments tee up a tension that is set to play out at the Tory conference this week as the Cabinet big guns and young upstarts tussle for the spotlight.
As well as Mr Johnson’s obvious leadership rivals – Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader; David Davis, the Brexit Secretary; and Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary – are a host of relative Henry Bolton, the new leader of Ukip, has said that “far from strengthening the UK’s hand in Brexit negotiations”, Theresa May’s Florence speech has weakened it.
In his speech to the party conference in Torquay, he said: “So, 14 months after the referendum, have we regained control of our borders? Are we able to conclude our own trade agreements?
“We have not, no. And our parliament and courts are still subordinate to a foreign power. Far from having a strong hand, we now learn that the European Commission pretty much dictated the language regarding the UK’s financial settlement to the EU that the Prime Minister used in her speech in Florence last week.”
unknowns. Many MPs from the 2015 and 2017 intakes believe the party needs to turn to younger blood to have any hope of winning a fourth term.
When the discussion crops up in the corridors of Westminster, some names are often repeated. Dominic Raab, the justice minister and former lawyer, is tipped by some colleagues for his intel- lect and Eurosceptic instincts. He campaigned heavily for Brexit last year.
Tom Tugendhat, a former soldier who joined Parliament in 2015, has risen swiftly to chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and raised eyebrows with frequent newspaper articles.
Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, and Brandon Lewis, who has the immigration brief, are two of the younger ministers attending Cabinet and are praised by some.
And then there is the maverick figure of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the ardent Eurosceptic whose surge in popularity this summer appears to be holding up.
Many will be speaking in Manchester – Mr Rees-Mogg no fewer than nine times in 48 hours – at fringe events full of the party members who will ultimately pick the next leader.
Timing will be crucial, say those who favour turning to the “next generation” when the leadership is next up for grabs. If it comes before March 2019, the official Brexit date, an experienced hand to guide talks looks best placed to take the helm – but if later than that, the need for party renewal could well favour a fresher face.