Boris johnson photo: eu2017.Ee. License: cc by 2.0
Jacob rees-mogg openly backs his rival
David lidington, the head of british prime minister theresa may’s cabinet, announced at the weekend at the political and economic forum in cernobbio, italy, that there will most likely be no brexit agreement with the eu until after the tories’ party conference in birmingham in october. Lidington said that while an agreement was expected by november, plans were being made for a so-called hard brexit if that could not be achieved "hard" brexit without an affiliation agreement.
Some observers believe that this delay will allow prime minister theresa may to hold on to her post, which was under threat in birmingham, for a little longer. Others, however, such as labour deputy leader tom watson, expect their main rival boris johnson to now come out of hiding more quickly and announce a counter-candidacy. Johnson has yet to do so – instead announcing that he and his wife will separate after 25 years of marriage.
Relationship to monogamy "distinctly oriental"
The sunday times was able to embellish this story with a leaked dossier from may circles in which johnson’s affairs had been collected: from his fling with it-girl petronella wyatt (who, alluding to johnson’s descent from an ottoman diplomat, said his relationship to monogamy was "distinctly oriental") about an unmarried child with a london art dealer from the higher society to his current love, a 30-year-old spin-doctor of his party, who had been photographed in hot pants and dancing on a car.
Johnson responded to this dossier by creating – metaphorically speaking – a "dead cat put on the table": he diverted attention from that with something even more attention-grabbing: a column in which he opined that theresa may had been "ditched" by eu chief negotiator michel barnier "have an explosive belt placed around the british interceptor" and handed him the lottery ticket for it.
However, as the spectator, among others, notes, this reopened one of his fundamental problems: with such revisions, johnson goes down well with the people – but not necessarily with the tory elite. There, for example, alan duncan "alan duncan, for example, spoke of the most hideous moment in modern british politics" and said that if they had not already brought about the "political end" johnson’s political end now, he would ensure that it would be later.
Johnson’s main rival, jacob rees-mogg, reacted quite differently, saying he favored boris johnson as britain’s brexit chief negotiator two years ago because he believed he would do the job "extraordinarily well" and saw no reason why that should not be the case now. If johnson was prime minister, rees-mogg said, then they had negotiated from a position of strength and were not going to be a "chequers mess", but the approach to a "clearer, cleaner brexit" have. Asked if that meant he was going to stump may, however, the politician only said: "i think boris is absolutely first class, but there is no vacancy at the moment".
Will rees-mogg become prime minister or home secretary??
The affair-free catholic is much more effective in his bid to become prime minister than he would be if he attacked johnson for his old england attitude to monogamy or his explosive belt comparison. If may fails because she negotiates either too unfavorable or no successor treaties at all with the eu, rees-mogg could therefore easily be the laughing stock who would be a compromise candidate for both her supporters and the johnsons. On social media, the decidedly witty speaker (who cites scoop as his favorite evelyn waugh book), who is traditionally dressed to the point of eccentricity, is already better received than johnson.
If the manages to unseat may himself, jacob rees-mogg will be traded as home secretary. Asked in july what he would change first, he cited narrowing the gap between policymakers and citizens, which has grown wider and less transparent in recent decades due to agencies and other bureaucracies. He also called for abolishing visa caps for professions sought in britain, such as doctors, in exchange for border controls to keep immigrants out of the welfare system.