Ed West

Ukip need not fear Boris Johnson

Ukip need not fear Boris Johnson
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So Boris Johnson is standing for parliament next year, triggering speculation about what would happen if David Cameron lost the election. Could we have Ed Miliband as prime minister, followed by Boris Johnson? Jon Stewart would have a field decade.

Boris is easily the most popular Conservative politician around, both inside and outside the party, and is the only one to have genuine appeal with the public. People go up to him to shake his hand in the street, rather than just vomit everywhere, as is the case with most other Tories.

Both he and Nigel Farage are jovial figures whose cheery, bumbling persona enables us to forgive any private failings. Indeed, while most frontbench politicians will get picked up for pulling a funny face, Boris could be caught in bed alongside a dead rent boy and all he’d have to say is ‘cripes, what-o!’ and everyone would laugh it off. Unlike his colleagues, he understands that most of the British public like toffs so long as they are amusing and not arrogant, and he plays up to it.

But if the Tory Party hopes to head off Ukip by employing this ambitious blond then I suspect they will be disappointed. Boris Johnson is a liberal — nothing wrong with that, as he’s a liberal in the old-fashioned sense of the word — but the people who have deserted the Tories tend to be small-c conservatives. And while he’s socially liberal on most issues, on the core one driving people to Ukip BoJo is the most immigrationiste of any senior Tory.

Ukip will easily pick up on this. In the meantime they could also point out that Boris doesn’t have to do that much as Mayor of London, and some of what he has done he has not done particularly well; take, for example, his behaviour towards Tube workers. And then there's the increased scrutiny that Boris will now face: Gazooks, er, cripes, etc.