Creative chaos

Well, well: Boris Johnson takes himself out of running to be new British prime minister

By —— Bio and Archives--June 30, 2016

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Let me explain what the political press means when they talk about chaos and tumult: Usually this means that someone didn’t do what they thought he or she was going to do (or should do), or the outcome of an event is not what they predicted. Once David Cameron followed the Brexit vote by announcing he would step down as British prime minister, the political press immediately assumed that former London Mayor Boris Johnson - who backed Brexit perhaps more openly and aggressively than any other political figure in the UK - would seek and win the post.

Today, the Tories are in chaos as the media defines it. Horrors. They don’t know what’s going to happen and they’ll have to go through a process to figure it out:

  The race to become Britain’s next prime minister took a dramatic, unexpected turn Thursday as former London Mayor Boris Johnson — popular with the public and widely considered to be a front-runner — ruled himself out of contention after the defection of a key ally.

  In a morning of political machinations and high-stakes treachery that had commentators reaching for Shakespearean parallels, Justice Secretary Michael Gove abruptly withdrew his support for Johnson and announced he would run for the Conservative Party leadership himself.

  Johnson, a prominent campaigner for Britain’s withdrawal from the 28-nation European Union, then told a news conference that the next Conservative leader would need to unite the party and ensure Britain’s standing in the world.

  “Having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in Parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me,” he said to the astonishment of journalists and supporters.

  The decision by Johnson, 52, is an unexpected twist in a political career that saw him serve as journalist, lawmaker and mayor, building a public profile on Latin quips, cycling and rumpled eccentricity, while nurturing a poorly concealed ambition to lead his country.

  Johnson’s decision to break with longtime ally Prime Minister David Cameron and back the “leave” side in Britain’s EU referendum seemed to have paid off last week, when Cameron resigned after voters decided 52 to 48 percent to exit the bloc.

Um, Johnson’s decision did pay off. Brexit passed. Most of us would consider it a success when we pursue something and achieve the something. Only the political press considers it a failure when your success in one thing doesn’t result in you then getting elected to some higher office.

And what’s with this business about “high-stakes treachery”? One guy decides not to back another guy, and that means we need to find quotes from Shakespeare to describe what’s going on? (Also, why does the reporting of any news story have to include the experience reporters have reporting the story? Who cares?)


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I have no strong opinion on whether Boris Johnson would have made a good prime minister. I don’t know enough about him. But in general I think it’s healthy that the Tories have to go through a thoughtful process - and maybe a bit of a battle - to choose their next leader, and the nation’s next prime minister. Britain has a huge opportunity here to break free of the EU’s grip and establish free-market policies that can engender growth and wealth creation way beyond the pace being set by the continent. It also has huge challenges, of course, just remaining united.

It should take some effort to make sure the right person is being chosen, and if Johnson doesn’t want the job, then it’s good he’s telling us now.

What’s important is not the intrigue of the moment. It’s what happens when Britain has a new leader and he or she endeavors to actually lead.

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Dan Calabrese -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by HermanCain.com, which can be found at HermanCain.com

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