Peter Hoskin

Boris’s one-two punch against the coalition

Boris's one-two punch against the coalition
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Boris, we know, has never had any compunctions about distinguishing his views from those of the coalition government. Take his recent proclamations on the unions or on the economy, for instance. But his latest remarks are still striking in their forthrightness. Exhibit A is the article he has written for today's Sun, which — although it doesn't mention Ken Clarke by name — clearly has the Justice Secretary in mind when it exhorts that "it's time to stop offering shorter sentences and get-out clauses." And Exhibit B is his column for the Telegraph, which waxes condemnatory about Greece and the euro. As George Osborne struggles to limit our involvment in any Greek bailout to our pre-standing IMF obligations, Boris says that we and the rest of Europe should just pull out altogether, "stop chucking good money after bad," and let Greece fumble its own way towards fiscal sanity.

Easy to dismiss this — as No.10 might — as "Boris being Boris". But there's little doubting that the Mayor of London is sounding a bugle that will rally both public and Tory backbench sentiment. The coalition has recently gone out of its way to sound tough on the collapsing eurozone and tougher on crime and justice. This sort of thing could undo, or at least undermine, that work.