17 May 2016

Boris – man of the people (though not the greengrocers)

Boris Johnson on the stump in Stafford today has been piling in with the “them and us” theme he unveiled in his Telegraph column yesterday. He, the narrative goes, is for the little guy, the fellow on PAYE, the little people who pay their taxes.


The other lot, the Remain gang, they’re for the big thieving corporations, the bosses on mega bonuses. Oh, and their greatest ally is David Cameron.

You can see how this particular line of attack might be potent in the immediate context of the referendum but a little tricky for intra-Conservative relations if David Cameron wins it.

For Boris Johnson, it has all crystallised today in the Daily Mail splash. This is based on a letter from Serco boss, Rupert Soames, to the Prime Minister.

The Mail’s central allegation is that this letter proves the PM was chatting to big business about campaigning for the EU before he’d even concluded his renegotiation. Boris Johnson has fallen upon it for a bigger and more divisive political point.

He says it shows that the PM is in bed with big business, the bonus-sucking, tax-evading enemies of the ordinary Joe. Boris, by contrast, is on their side. There’s a very good (as ever) spot on this by The Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow.

Remain Camp sources are focusing on Boris Johnson’s claim that you now can’t buy bananas in bunches of more than two or three thanks to the EU. This will come as a shock to anyone who has been in a shop selling fruit.

The Remain team also want to draw attention to Nigel Farage’s suggestion that a 52/48 defeat for his side would mean the battle continues.

But the bigger threat could be the central thrust of the Boris Johnson attack: the big fat-cats of government and the corporations are all in it together.

It’s not known how the Serco letter got into the hands of the Daily Mail but some think it very striking that the letter is primarily concerned with prisons policy, the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice.

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