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Conservative Party: The poisoned legacy of Boris Johnson | International

Edith was born in London, spent half her life in Nigeria, and works as a job coach for young people through a public agency. Edith is a black woman, in her early 50s. She and she breaks all the prejudices associated with politics. Not because she is affiliated with the Conservative Party – that is no longer surprising – but because she already misses Boris Johnson. And because between Liz Truss —with her air of Margaret Thatcher and her obsession with lowering taxes— and Rishi Sunak —with an articulate and realistic speech: the promise of a conservative prime minister of Indian origin— Edith stays with Truss. “People still believe in loyalty, more or less. And Rishi did not hesitate to stab his boss in the back. He is very good, and I do not take credit for it. He would have been the natural successor to Boris Johnson, if he had let things go his way,” he explains from his seat at Wembley Arena, north London. It’s Wednesday, and the last one is celebrated hustings of the conservative primaries. This is what they call the assemblies with members in which Sunak and Truss, throughout the month of August, have presented their plans and have answered questions from party members. This Monday the winner of the contest will be officially announced, but the polls already anticipate devastatingly (with an advantage of more than 30 percentage points) that the current foreign minister will be the successor to Johnson, who leaves office on Tuesday.

And have people already forgotten about the whole Downing Street party scandal during lockdown, or the Prime Minister’s lies? “No”, Edith replies, “but I don’t think it’s fair that the full responsibility has been placed on his shoulders either. We all make mistakes, but none of the middle managers wanted to accept them”.

Boris Johnson has not yet set foot outside of Downing Street, and his legend has already begun to be built. His name reaps applause at match events, every time it is pronounced. Sunak is forced to justify, with little conviction, why he resigned as economy minister and hastened the downfall of the most popular politician in recent decades. Truss does not miss every opportunity to remind the militants that she has remained faithful to her boss until the end.

History is usually written by the victors. Johnson has achieved the feat of walking out the back door, but has also been credited by his own detractors with three indelible achievements that are questionable to say the least: he was the man who got Brexit done — when you could argue he’s still more of a weapon politics than a project endowed with content—; he was responsible for the most successful and fastest covid-19 vaccination campaign in Europe – he was a few weeks ahead of the rest of the countries, after a disastrous management -; and he has led the world in defending Ukraine against Russian aggression – his personal involvement is indisputable, and the Ukrainians love him, but his response has been in line with those of the US and the EU.

“He is going to make a Berlusconi. We are going to have him prowling soon, waiting to be able to star in a populist return to politics”, he anticipated a few days ago in a newspaper interview Guardian Rory Stewart, the iconoclastic former Conservative minister who tried to run against Johnson for the Conservative Party leadership in 2019, and has scorned his rival ever since. “We need to keep reminding people why he left. He should have left much sooner. Everything he did was deeply shameful, and very dangerous,” Stewart noted.

Most British voters don’t forget any of that. 68% still have a dire opinion of Johnson’s performance as prime minister, according to the latest YouGov poll, conducted on August 29. But when the mirror is turned towards conservative voters, the image it reflects is different. 49% of them, according to the survey published by The Times in the middle of this month, they believe that the ousted politician should continue to lead the country. A figure even higher than the total support that the two candidates to succeed him garner among that same parish. deputies Tories who go these days to their constituencies and meet with voters detect a growing “seller’s remorse” (seller’s remorse, in the English expression), the regret that the owner of a house may suffer after having put it up for sale. That would explain the massive support for Truss’s candidacy, without a tenth of Johnson’s charisma but with the same harsh tone regarding the EU, irregular immigration or the identity politics of the left.

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“I can’t explain it to myself, beyond the fact that maybe she, like Johnson, is capable of reaching a working-middle-class voter that Sunak doesn’t,” Mark muses aloud. Together with his wife, this urban, London and economically well-off couple has also attended Wembley Arena. They support Sunak, but they are aware that his chances of victory border on the impossible. “He is the more intelligent and eloquent of the two, I have no doubt. But he probably has a tendency to exhibitionism that loses him, ”he points out.

There were more posters of Ready for Rishi (Ready for Rishi) that were seen in the London pavilion than those of In Liz We Truss (In Truss We Trust, a play on words reminiscent of the In God We Trust on the US dollar bill.) But it was probably a mirage. London has always gone against the grain of the rest of the country. He elected a mayor called Boris Johnson when Labor was still in Downing Street.

Johnson plays the lyre

This summer, with his resignation announced, Johnson celebrated his wedding anniversary at the mansion in the Cotswolds – the wealthy area of ​​southern England – of a friend and donor to the Conservative Party. It’s been a few days in a spa luxury in Slovenia. He has flown in a military fighter, during an aeronautical exhibition. He appeared by surprise at the meeting of his economy minister, Nadhim Zahawi, with the gas and electricity companies. He has been on vacation in Greece. He has paid a surprise visit to his friend Volodymyr Zelensky in kyiv. And he has expressed his belief that the UK is a great country and will overcome runaway inflation and energy crisis. Without taking a single action. Waiting for his successor to arrive.

There have been strikes on the rail, in urban transport, in the main port of entry for goods in the United Kingdom. Inflation is already at 10.1%, and the unions anticipate a hot autumn, with an unsustainable cost of living for the majority of the population. The Bank of England takes the recession for granted, with five consecutive quarters ahead of negative growth figures. The electricity and gas bill of British households has increased by 80%, and civil disobedience campaigns are emerging that encourage citizens to default. Johnson, like Nero before Rome in flames, plays the lyre. He has already written a memoir about his three years at the helm of Downing Street, and the figure, according to modest calculations, will not fall below a million euros. Several newspapers and weeklies are already bidding for his columns. If he joins the round of former leaders who travel the world to give speeches, he can aspire to 300,000 euros for intervention in the American circuit.

Johnson can afford to watch his successor’s travails from the sidelines while he makes money and makes his presence known. If he remains a deputy, that salary will probably be his fourth or fifth source of income in order of importance. “So if Johnson doesn’t seem interested now in furthering his legacy [como intentaron hacer David Cameron o Theresa May en sus últimos meses en Downing Street], that does not mean that the issue does not concern you. She can’t wait to get out of the cage and start dealing with it. Like Churchill, he intends to make sure that History is kind to him, because he will be the one to write it”, analyst William Atkinson has pointed out these days in ConservativeHomethe must-read forum for Tories.

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