Two remaining

Two remaining

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt: The Battle for Leadership

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt

After two days of voting, Tory MPs have selected Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to advance to the next stage of the leadership election. The final winner will be chosen by the party’s 160,000 members. Boris Johnson received over half the votes, with 160, while Jeremy Hunt narrowly edged out Michael Gove, with 77 votes to 75.

Boris Johnson’s Rise to Power

Boris Johnson’s journey to become the Prime Minister now appears even more likely than it did a week ago. His main obstacle has always been winning over fellow Conservative MPs. Johnson has never been known as a team player, instead focusing on personal gain, earning £540,000 in one year from journalism and public speaking. Furthermore, he has been mediocre and uninspiring in parliament. However, party members across the country adore his charismatic speeches and flamboyant style, aligning with his stance on Brexit.

Can Jeremy Hunt Create an Upset?

Jeremy Hunt faces an uphill battle trying to slow down Johnson’s momentum. As foreign secretary, Hunt has proven to be an impressive figure. He transformed a marginal seat into a safe one and served as the health secretary for an unprecedented six years. Comparatively, he has outperformed Johnson in the role of foreign secretary, revitalizing a demoralized department. Despite his accomplishments, Hunt must appeal to a party that has become fixated on Brexit and clinging to unrealistic expectations. Furthermore, he is burdened with the mark of Cain within the Conservative Party for having voted Remain in the 2016 referendum.

Missed Opportunity for Michael Gove

Had Michael Gove been selected instead of Jeremy Hunt, Boris Johnson would have faced a much tougher challenge. Gove is a highly skilled debater, quick-witted, well-versed in policy details, and willing to strike hard. Gove could have severely damaged Johnson’s campaign. However, Jeremy Hunt is seen as too moderate and lacks the ability to burst the Boris balloon. Luck is on Johnson’s side once again.

Self-Preservation and Party Unity

Tory MPs had self-preservation in mind when they chose Hunt and Johnson to compete. They wanted to avoid a destructive competition reminiscent of the ancient Greek story of Polynices and Eteocles, who killed each other in their quest for power over Thebes. Johnson and Gove were close friends, with Gove initially supporting Johnson’s campaign for premiership in 2016. However, Gove eventually turned against his friend and mentor, publicly stating that Johnson was unfit to be prime minister. By choosing Hunt over Gove, MPs aimed to avoid a bloody confrontation and distance themselves from this psycho-drama.

The Price of Privilege

The Conservative Party’s choice of Hunt and Johnson highlights a lack of diversity. Both candidates hail from prestigious private schools and attended Oxford University. In the leadership race, candidates like Sajid Javid, the son of a Pakistani bus driver, Michael Gove, the adopted son of an Aberdeen fishmonger, and Rory Stewart, a highly accomplished former diplomat, author, and academic, were eliminated. Rumors also suggest that Johnson’s team employed cunning tactics typical of the Oxford Union to eliminate competitors. This leadership race has been riddled with lies and pomposity, according to one Tory MP.

The Path to Party Healing

For the future of the Conservative Party, it is vital that personal rifts created during this leadership campaign and its predecessor are repaired. Boris Johnson and Rory Stewart need to reconcile, with Stewart setting aside his pride and rescinding his promise to refuse a role in a Johnson administration. Stewart has proven his ability to excite middle-of-the-road voters and would make an exceptional foreign secretary.

Even more critical is the mending of fences between Johnson and Gove. Gove is a rare Brexiteer who acknowledges the dangers of a no-deal Brexit. He possesses the skills and strengths that Johnson lacks when it comes to energizing government departments, detailed policy knowledge, and broad interest in public affairs. In an ideal scenario, Gove would serve as an excellent CEO alongside Johnson’s chairmanship of the board. However, in an ideal world, figures like Polynices and Eteocles would not have met such a tragic fate.

As the leadership race intensifies, it is crucial for the Conservative Party to find unity and restore trust among its members. Only through healing and reconciliation can the party move forward and effectively address the challenges that lie ahead.