Boris Johnson has gambled his long-standing ambition to become Britain’s next Prime Minister by joining the campaign to leave the European Union, putting himself at loggerheads with David Cameron and George Osborne. In a move that will electrify the referendum campaign, Mr Johnson decided to back a ‘Brexit’ (British exit) despite personal appeals from Mr Cameron to support his position. We are lead to believe that through his actions Mr Johnson believes that the European political project was in danger of loosing proper democratic control.
Unlike some of those backing a Brexit, Johnson raises the possibility that Britain may not ultimately leave the EU in the event of a leave vote. He in fact calls for Britain to have a deep and co-operative relationship with the EU.
His decision will entice the referendum campaign and came as a major blow to David Cameron just one day after the Prime Minister called the June 23 vote.
It sets the stage for a leadership campaign that looks likely to see Mr. Johnson face off against George Osborne, the Chancellor, for the chance to succeed Mr. Cameron when he steps down. This now causes even deeper divisions within the Conservative Party as many conservative MP’s have let Mr. Cameron know their own stance on the EU referendum. For example, Stroud MP, Neil Carmichael, says ‘I hope other Conservative party members follow my lead and vote to stay in the EU’.
Cameron is therefore seeing opposition within his own party about the EU and now he must deal with the shock of Boris’ change of heart. Johnson’s decision is bound to deepen the party’s internal rift but, given Boris’ importance is routinely overestimated, whether he will be the enormous asset the leave side calculates he will be is another matter. It was vital to see the referendum and the internal Tory battle as unique in their own two ways but some newspapers believe that Johnson’s antics might precipitate an early general election. While it is thought that the referendum would make life hard for some pro-Cameron MPs in the constituencies, Johnson’s influence is arguably overstated in comparison to the bigger issues facing the UK and the EU.
some newspapers believe that Johnson’s antics might precipitate an early general election
The public are surprised at Johnson’s sudden change of mind due to the fact that in the past he has written a lot about the importance of staying in the European Union and it seems as though he is perhaps putting his personal leadership ambitions above the national interest.
Johnson believes that there is a way that we could actually get a better deal that does more for Britain and restores some control to the people in this country. However, it’s hard to believe the mayor’s words when he has advocated staying in the EU for so long.
The leave campaign has now been boosted by the Mayor of London which could potentially boost his bid to be the next Conservative leader. For someone who has been mayor of London since 2008 and who was re-elected in 2012, he’s certainly not under the radar. In fact, opinion polls have shown that the public view him as the second most credible politician on this issue behind Prime Minister Cameron. However, Boris’ support for a ‘brexit’ has increased concerns over the risk of Britain leaving the EU weighing on the pound because until recently, the sterling has been a popular choice with investors around the world. Our economy has outperformed many others, interest rate rises looked imminent. However, not only have our economic fortunes dimmed, we now have a date for an EU referendum – June 23.
The impact of the ‘Boris Bombshell’ was very much felt. There’s no doubt that Boris Johnson’s decision to support the campaign to leave the EU triggered a sell-off. Investors view his declaration as making the prospect of an “out” vote more likely. He is, after all, a very popular politician.
Some would have you believe that this is proof that investors also believe that Britain outside the EU would be a poorer nation and a less attractive place to invest. This is a harder punch to land, not least because there’s no definitive proof that that would be the case.
Investors view his declaration as making the prospect of an “out” vote more likely
First and foremost, the fall in the value of the pound feels like a reaction to the heightened risk of the unknown. Human beings don’t tend to like change or uncertainty, and investors (usually) are human beings. My belief, and it is not a particularly controversial one, is that the prevailing view of investors is that Britain will vote to remain in the EU. So in the coming days expect financial markets to be very sensitive to any news which hints at a different outcome. But even when you step back and have a look at the data, you notice that the pound has been weakening. The prospect of an interest rate rise has diminished, the likelihood of a Brexit has incrementally increased – both are being felt.
The Prime Minister has characterized a decision to leave the European Union as “a leap in the dark.” That feels like a fair comment. So students of Exeter- you have four months to decide whether it’s a heroic or a foolish one.
Despite Boris Johnson’s turn around and the increase in support in polls for the out campaign, there still remains a great deal of reasons why we most likely will not leave the EU. To understand the dynamics that strongly favor an “in” vote, start with the politics. Until this month’s deal, Britain’s leaders were not seriously making the case against Brexit. After all, Prime Minister David Cameron and his government had to pretend that they would contemplate a breakup if the EU rejected their demands.
Under these circumstances, it is impossible for either Labour politicians or business leaders to advocate an EU deal that Cameron himself felt he was not yet ready to promote. The Out lobby therefore enjoyed a virtual monopoly of public attention. This situation may briefly persist, even though the EU deal has now been agreed, because Cameron has no wish to antagonize his party’s implacable euro skeptics until it is absolutely necessary, but as the referendum approaches, this political imbalance will abruptly reverse.
One reason is Cameron’s decision to release his ministers from party discipline during the referendum campaign. Initially viewed as a sign of weakness, Cameron’s move has turned out to be a masterstroke. Having been offered the freedom to “vote your conscience” on the EU deal, most significant Conservative politicians – with the notable exceptions of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove – have come around to supporting Cameron.
Cameron’s move has turned out to be a masterstroke
As a result, the out campaign has been left effectively leaderless and has already split into two rival factions – one driven mainly by anti-immigrant and protectionist sentiment, the other determined to concentrate on neo-liberal economics and free trade.
It can be confidently predicted that as the political tide turns, the British media and business opinion will follow, mainly because of direct financial interests. For example, Rupert Murdoch, whose outlets dominate the media landscape, needs membership in the EU single market to consolidate his satellite TV businesses in Britain, Germany, and Italy. Another powerful motivator for Murdoch, as well as for other media proprietors and business leaders, is to be on the winning side and to maintain good relations with Cameron, unless they see overwhelming evidence that he will lose.
In a challenge that pits one of Britain’s most popular politicians against the prime minister and deepens the divide in Cameron’s party, Johnson said his boss has failed to deliver fundamental reform with an EU deal.
It would be interesting to see how much of an effect Johnson, a political showman whose eccentric persona masks a fierce ambition to succeed Cameron, will have on the outcome of the EU referendum as well as the elections in time.