Delivering Brexit by 31 October, championing conservative values and investing in front-line public services – and the only candidate who can stop Corbyn and Farage in the next general election.
I voted Leave and delivering Brexit is a top priority for me – both for it’s own sake and to deliver on the mandate given by the referendum. We’ve had a stint with a Prime Minister and Chancellor who voted Remain and didn’t really want to leave and have seen how well that worked: repeated delays and a bad deal, because the EU knew that they would never be willing to take the measures needed to force an exit, either domestically or in Europe.
To move forward we need someone who believes in Brexit and will do what’s necessary to deliver it by 31 October, whether that’s leaving without a deal or vetoing every measure that goes before the European Council until they kick us out. He’s stood up for the common-sense approach that No Deal means no payment of £39bn and, above all, recognises that further delay would be disaster.
As someone whose priority is to Leave by 31 October, but would rather leave on a good deal, Boris is also the candidate most likely to secure changes to the deal and to sell it to a sceptical public. Most likely to secure changes because the EU would believe he’d actually Leave without a deal (as we’ve seen, and is obvious from the most basic negotiation theory, without that you get nowhere). Able to sell it because he’s a genuine Leaver, campaigned for Leave and has credibility by resigning over the current deal. The voters who’ve deserted to the Brexit party would accept a deal from Boris that they’d never accept from Hunt or May – simply because they no there are deals he wouldn’t accept.
Finally – and this applies whether or not you support Brexit – Boris was one of the leaders of the Leave campaign, so it’s right and appropriate that he’s given the chance to deliver it.
Boris’s domestic pledges are outstanding. He recognises that the Conservative Party needs to become the natural party of the (predominantly) Leave voting skilled working and lower middle class and stop trying to cater to wealthy metropolitan graduates. He also understands that we need tangible, meaningful policies that deliver this. Now the deficit is under control, we need to start making serious investment into the front-line public services relied upon by ordinary working people, and Boris’s promises deliver:
- Recruiting 20,000 new police officers, prioritising knife crime and increasing the use of stop and search.
- Increasing school spending to at least £5,000 per pupil in every school.
- Raise the threshold for National Insurance to the threshold for income tax – a massive tax cut for the lowest paid workers.
- A review of High Speed 2 (with a clear leaning towards cancellation) – which would free up the money for other spending.
- An Australian-style points-based system for immigration, to apply globally, as campaigned for in the referendum.
- Abolishing stamp duty for houses below £500,000, making it easier for people to move to houses that suit them or to move to find work.
- Rolling back the nanny state by tackling ‘sin’ taxes like the sugar tax that hit the poorest hard and punish people for their choices.
- Singapore-style free port zones to boost investment.
- Going carbon neutral by 2050.
I don’t think his pledge to raise the higher rate of tax from £50k to £80k is a huge priority, but I don’t think it’s bad either: the fact that 15% of people pay it now, when only 5% did when it was introduced, suggests it’s too low. But it should clearly only be part of a broader package that lower the tax burden on less well off people, too (e.g. the National Insurance pledge).
When you compare this to Hunt’s pledges – cutting corporation tax to 12.5%, cracking down on social media content and niche pledges for entrepreneurs, the difference is stark: Hunt offers more of the same managerial, technocratic approach to government that fails to inspire or help ordinary people. Add in Hunt’s spectacularly ill-judged promises to lift the ban on fox hunting and ‘personal desire’ to lower the abortion threshold from 24 to 12 weeks, it’s pretty obvious that Boris is more in tune with what the British people want.
(An aside to friendly lefties and progressives reading this: which would you rather, 20,000 more police and investment in schools under Boris, or legalised fox hunting and an abortion crack-down on Hunt? There is a real danger of viewing everything under a single axis of Remain or Leave).
Championing Conservative values
If you speak the language of the left, the left will gain traction. If you speak the language of the right, the right will gain traction. I know left-wing people who voted for Corbyn even though they thought he wouldn’t win a general election because he’d drag the Overton window back towards the left, such that a successor to Corbyn could then win. This strategy has been fairly successful (mainstream left-wing thought in both Labour and the Lib Dems is considerably to the left of where it was six years ago).
Theresa May’s government has generally spoken almost entirely in left-wing terms: intervening in markets, banning and taxing things, openly championing the divisive politics of identity. By contrast, in Boris we find a politician willing to openly stand up for and champion conservative values. Whether that’s hard work, opportunity and patriotism, or just the lives of ordinary people to live as they will, Boris delivers. Perhaps his own definition of Conservatism says it best:
” a belief in freedom, opportunity, responsibility, family, community, nation, duty, service, beauty, democracy, fairness, decency, the ConHome website – and the sometimes hidden wisdom of old ways of doing things.”
He’s also a fundamentally modern and outward looking Conservative. To give some specific examples:
- He voted to repeal Section 28 in 2003 (NB: Jeremy Corbyn didn’t) and has consistently voted positively for gay rights, such as for civil partnerships.
- He’s actively defended the right of Muslim women to wear the veil.
- He’s currently supporting a cross-party amendment to bring back 2-year post-study visas for international students.
I actively like that he’s willing to occasionally use non-PC language: it is much more better to defend individual freedoms (such as the freedom to wear a burqa) using colourful language than to argue to ban it using impeccably correct language.
More importantly, it shows he’s willing to stand up to the small-minded, authoritarian bigots who think it’s ok to call an 18 year old girl racist for wearing a Chinese prom dress, to sack a disabled grandfather for sharing a Billy Connelly clip on his private Facebook page or to tear down the statues, monuments and cultural symbols of groups they disagree with. And let us be clear: this increasingly strong movement (by no means all progressives, or those on the left, but an extremist, radical faction within it) is a dangerous, oppressive ideology of intolerance and division that hates Britain, hates individual liberty and hates the West. They must be actively resisted and combated at every turn, just as we faced down the rise of domestic communism in the first half of the 20th century, or the US defeated McCarthyism in the 1950s.
Boris represents the best of both worlds: fierce in the defence of genuine diversity and individual freedoms, whether that is gay rights, international students or religious practices (whether he agrees with them or not), but fierce also in opposing the authoritarian woke who seek to control what people say, what they wear, what they and even what they think.
A track record of delivery
As Mayor of London, Boris has eight years on which to judge him running the largest city in the country – a city with a population and GDP roughly the size of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland put together. And that record is impressive. He:
- Cut crime by 20%, including a 50% fall in the murder rate.
- Cut traffic fatalities by 50%.
- Delivered a highly successful 2012 Olympics.
- Built over 100,000 affordable homes (still not enough, but more than Ken Livinsgtone managed in his eight years).
- Delivered strong economic growth following the financial crisis.
A key element of a leader is to appoint good people and let them get on with it. Boris did this as Mayor and is likely to do this as Prime Minister.
Of course, Boris isn’t perfect. He has made mistakes. I’m going to focus on three:
Is he unreliable? Well, he’s certainly not an ideologue such as Dominic Raab or Jeremy Corbyn. And that does mean he’s flexible, and sometimes may not deliver on the exact details. That is a downside.
But it’s simply not true to say he completely changes his spots. He’s consistently free market, Thatcherite and liberal on economics. Once he made up his mind, he’s committed to Brexit through and through, never once wavering. He’s consistent in support for individual freedoms, for an open and broad-minded approach that genuinely likes people from other countries and cultures, even if he may not agree with them himself. He’s consistent in standing up for Britain. He’s a big picture thinker, not a details man, and that big picture is consistent, positive and a true conservative.
What about his personal life? Well yes, I’d prefer he wasn’t a serial adulterer. But who runs the country is bigger than someone’s personal morality. Corbyn, after all, has also divorced. At the end of the day, I believe what goes on in the bedroom between consenting adults is a matter for them, and whatever my personal moral code, it’s not the number one (or even the number 100) consideration when choosing a prime minister.
What about the Garden Bridge? It was a bad call and a waste of money. He made a mistake. People do that sometimes, especially during eight years of running multi-billion pound, highly complex budgets. It’s not a moral issue, like invading Iraq or the Windrush scandal, it’s a straightforward financial mess-up by someone who likes to dream big. That visionary power paid dividends in the 2012 Olympics or the Brexit campaign; occasionally it lets him down.
No-one’s perfect, and I don’t agree with him on everything (I’d probably like a tougher line on international aid and withdrawing from the ECHR than Boris will give us). However, Boris Johnson isn’t just much better than Jeremy Hunt, but a superb candidate for Prime Minister in his own right.
Winning the next general election
As a member of the Conservative Party, I naturally believe that a Conservative government would be the best thing for the country as a whole. If you have a vote in this election, I hope you believe that too. If you don’t – well, I still hope you believe that, but if not, I hope you’ll understand that’s a relevant consideration for those of us who do.
It’s particularly important at a time when the main opposition is led by Jeremy Corbyn, where the right-wing vote is split between the Conservative Party and the Brexit Party and many polls show a four-way race for a Westminster majority. We can’t just keep on doing more of the same – and from his speeches and videos, Boris recognises this, whereas Hunt doesn’t.
Polls have shown that the most important thing to winning a general election victory is delivering Brexit. Without it, we lose; with it, we could be on course to a decent majority, particularly if the left-wing vote remains evenly divided between the Liberal Democrats and Labour. So if you care about stopping Corbyn, even if you voted Remain, that alone should make you vote for Boris, as the only candidate who can be counted on to deliver Brexit. But more than that, Boris is a proven winner: he came from behind in the polls to win the Brexit referendum and won twice in London against the hard-left socialist (and anti-semite) Ken Livingstone, even when the party was 17 points behind in the national poll.
So if you have a vote now, vote Boris as the only candidate to deliver Brexit, defeat Corbyn and unite our country.
I’m backing Boris.