Johnson Minor and the Conservative manifesto
The coalition’s last main policy-generating moment has been and gone with the mid-term policy review. The No.10 policy unit now ceases to be a coalition-serving organ and becomes more of an election-focused vehicle to help David Cameron win votes in 2015.
No doubt there will still be some progress-chasing and smaller policy development, but that’s where we are.
So some of the biggest challenges facing Jo Johnson are how to come up with a manifesto that sits with the “global race” theme that David Cameron developed in his 2012 party conference speech while stemming Ukip defections and whistling the new harder line on welfare.
He’ll also have to come up with some flesh to put on the EU renegotiation project that David Cameron announced in January. What are the minimum returned powers the Tories would accept before backing the “in” side in an in/out referendum?
I wonder if the Tory right will get quite what they expect with a member of Boris’s family moving into No.10? It’s true that the new head of the No.10 policy unit, MP Jo Johnson, is very close to his elder brother – “answers to him”, according to one who knows him. If anyone knows the inner workings of Boris’s mind and the possible routes for his ambition, it would be his brother Jo.
But Johnson Minor’s instincts are not quite the same as his brother’s on Europe. He’s a pragmatist and a natural member of the “don’t rock the boat” tendency in Europe as in life. One who knows him describes him as “a born technocrat”, the British equivalent of the French énarques.
What he does share with his brother is a metropolitan, liberal approach to social values which might also mean the cheers from the right-wing press are relatively short-lived.
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