It's been a day of “intrigue and betrayal” in UK politics, as the New York Times puts it. The man widely predicted to be a solid candidate as the next prime minister of Britain, Boris Johnson, says he won't run. This appears to be a response to today's unexpected news of a candidacy launch by Michael Gove, a key Boris ally in the Brexit campaign. It's hard to keep up, I know.
Mr. Gove dissed his right-wing hypernationalist ally on Thursday, saying that he'd “come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.”
Sick burn, dude. Sick burn.
Boris Johnson is a former mayor of London. Today's abrupt abandonment of his aspirations to lead Britain come just one week after he successfully led the #Brexit campaign to take the country out of the European Union.
Johnson's announcement was met with “audible gasps from a roomful of journalists and supporters,” Reuters reported. It's the biggest political surprise in the ongoing Brexit fallout marathon telenovela since Prime Minister David Cameron “quit after losing last week's referendum on British membership of the bloc.”
My Boing Boing colleague Cory Doctorow points out an important detail in this story that those of us who aren't very familiar with British politics would miss.
“Whomever is the next Prime Minister of the UK will either have to trigger article 50 (and be the PM who destroyed the UK) or not (and be the PM who denied the will of the largest-turnout ballot in UK history). There's a pretty broad consensus in the UK that Boris is refusing to step on the landmine that Cameron laid on his way out the door (by refusing to trigger Article 50 himself).”
From the Times:
Mr. Gove had once ruled himself out for the job. His U-turn Thursday wrecked Mr. Johnson’s prospects and enhanced those of Theresa May, the home secretary, who had backed the Remain campaign but with little enthusiasm.
With Mr. Johnson out, the prospect of a race between Ms. May, 59, and Mr. Gove, 48, the justice secretary, also indicated that the next prime minister would not seek to keep Britain in the duty-free single market of the European Union if the price was no restriction on immigration from the bloc.
The sense that Mr. Johnson might try to reach a softer deal with Brussels, and his unwillingness to promise key jobs to Mr. Gove and other leaders of the campaign to exit the European Union, helped doom his candidacy, legislators said.
Mr. Gove said Thursday that he had “come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.”