Boris Johnson, grinning smugly at the media circus he’s attracted, steps off the Virgin Pendolino from Euston. It’s an image that was beamed into my home (and millions of others), I watched it on BBC News but, before that, I found out that it had happened via twitter.
What’s remarkable here is not the fact that I found this out via twitter, it’s the fact that ‘Just Boris’ or, rather, “Team ‘Just Boris’ “ managed to leak so carefully the details of his train, that none of the media had time to catch it before he left London, or even join it en-route – leading to the scene we saw of him leaving the station, surrounded by a media scrum and a flock of his supporters. It wouldn’t be unfair to liken his arrival in Birmingham to that of a football team returning home after a famous victory. Boris, of course, would be the star striker – Cameron, on the other hand, would be the coach, forgotten in the heat of the moment.
This is David Cameron’s problem. He is the Prime Minister and Conservatives, but it’s never been more obvious that he wants the top job. It’s the career equivalent of being followed by the grim reaper, and the Prime Minister is doing his best to hide it whilst a man who he needs to be one of his closest allies is, in fact, surrounding himself in a cult of personality.
As expected, the coverage surrounding Johnson’s speech was fairly extensive for someone who was not the main speaker at a party conference, and had little policy of note to talk on. The main remark that was focussed on was his compliment to the Prime Minister, suggesting that he’s perhaps not a threat to him right now. Or, maybe, that he doesn’t want all the attention, although this implies that he is most certainly the most important person in the Conservative party today. After all, he probably is.
Then the news broke that terms had been agreed for the Scottish independence referendum. This is pretty remarkable news, and it was hinted that something like this would come out during the Troy conference – it was spun as a win for them: one question, two options, a decisive result. Okay, I’ll forget the SNP were leaning towards the same thing themselves quite some time ago. This isn’t even the interesting part, however, it’s the fact that it came out after Boris’s speech. Call me cynical, but it’s looks like Cameron was trying to divert as much attention away from Boris, Mayor of London, and back to the Government in Westminster. It worked pretty well, but it didn’t help the Prime Minister, so much as steal Johnson’s limelight.
If my theory is correct, then it shows the Prime Minister is fearing a challenge from the Mayor of London for the top job: the man responsible for today’s referendum announcement was one Michael Moore MP. Scottish Secretary, and Lib Dem.