For Boris, the second bite of the apple has paid off. After weeks of rigorous campaigning, the bookies’ favourite is now comfortably installed within No 10.
Looking back, it is a measure of the derangement within the Tory Party that so many of its MPs were willing to take over from Theresa May. The prospect of having to lead one of the most dysfunctional governments in modern British politics would have put off even the most opportunistic of MPs off.
Even so, after three months of what appeared at first sight as endless ballots, the seemingly insouciant former foreign secretary secured a victory over Jeremy Hunt and assumed the premiership with a mandate to negotiate the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
But hang on? Let’s take ten steps back to the phrases ‘victory’ and ‘mandate’. These are hardly the kind of terms you would associate with the election of Boris Johnson. Even in he managed to convince members of the Conservative Party that he was best-placed with his status as a pariah in bien-pensant society, he’s hardly what you would call a unifying figure. His election is not the kind of victory that can be associated with Tony Blair’s infamous rise to power.
Many of the MPs I have spoken with, including some within the higher-echelons of the 1992 Committee forget that Boris Johnson’s election is not a victory- it’s a select few deciding the outcome for the rest of the nation.
Although the polls painted a picture of a universally lauded candidate, to attribute his rise to power solely to what his inner-circle have described as a ‘great campaign’ would be disingenuous. Remember, only 92,153 Conservative and Unionist party members took party in the election our new prime minister- a microcosmic figure by any stretch of the imagination.
Although leadership elections, in which a party leader automatically becomes prime minister is acceptable in accordance with the UK’s constitution- it doesn’t necessarily make it right democratically. If the election of Boris were a general election scenario, in which 45,775,800 voters had taken part, Johnson would’ve probably been sidelined in favour of someone less divisive.
Despite his ‘hard Brexit’ and ‘we can do it’ stance currying favour with most in the Conservative part, it is not the case that this stance is supported by the rest of the UK. 66% of the Tory Party does not translate to the country. Tory members are overwhelmingly richer, whiter and older than the average Brit. Their social views are also out of step with the nation if the 60% who hold Islamophobic views is anything to go by. The question, therefore, is whether Johnson really does have an iron mandate to pursue a no-deal Brexit. According to a recent YouGov survey, just 25 percent of people in the UK would consider Brexit a “good outcome”.
After all, legitimacy in office matters – as Theresa May soon discovered. For, the UK is heading into the largest political crisis in a generation, and the person leading the country into the great unknown surely should command a plurality of support before they corral a country that has never agreed fundamentally on what form Brexit should take.
In light of this, perhaps it is fairer to say, that the new prime minister’s election is not a victory for democracy, but rather one that Brexiteers alike decry so fervently- the minority overruling the majority.