Opinion Ruth Dudley Edwards

Sunday 23 July 2017

The man who would, and could, be king

Boris Johnson's genius for handling bad publicity was to the fore again last week, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

Ruth Dudley Edwards

Ruth Dudley Edwards

'DURING my one-man show, Rock 'n' Roll Politics," wrote Steve Richards, the distinguished political commentator last week, "I reflect briefly on who is likely to be the next leader of the Conservative Party. At one performance in December, I offered to pay each member of the vast audience £10,000 if Boris Johnson were to succeed David Cameron."

Richards' argument is that Boris is leader-in-waiting and, in Britain, leaders-in-waiting (like Denis Healey, Michael Heseltine, Michael Portillo and David Miliband) almost never become leaders. He's peaked too early, and, what's more, his cupboard is jammed with skeletons.

Some of Boris's familiar skeletons were on display last Sunday morning on the Andrew Marr Show, where Eddie Mair asked harsh questions about various indiscretions and cover-ups that were to be discussed the following night on the BBC in Michael Cockerell's excellent Boris Johnson: the Irresistible Rise. I had read various accounts of the programmes, ranging from "car-crash" to "priceless", and was even more than usual leaning towards the "Surely-he'll-never-make-it" side of the eternal "Could-Boris-really-become-PM?" question.

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