Is this why there is no rush to make Boris Johnson Prime Minister?

Theresa v Boris: How May became PM is highly recommended viewing. It’s available for the next ten days on BBC iPlayer. Made for BBC2, it is an attractive mix of key player interviews, contemporaneous news footage and dramatised scenes.

Theresa May is played very well indeed by Jacqueline King (who I might gratuitously point out is well known to the legions of Lib Dem Doctor Who fans!) and Boris is captured brilliantly by Will Barton, even though his hair and nose make him look more like Michael Fabricant.

What comes across, loud and clear (whether it is a reflection of reality or apocryphal) is the utter ineptitude of Boris Johnson in (mis)leading his campaign. This is very surprising bearing in mind he ran London for eight years. But the massive Exodus of MPs from Boris’ side after Gove put the knife in, provides perhaps ample explanation of why there has been no rush to replace Theresa May post-June 8th with Boris.

The ending tune and out-takes of the programme are worth hanging on for, also.

For what it’s worth, the BBC IPlayer blurb describes the piece very well:

This drama documentary tells the story of the Conservative Party’s 2016 leadership campaign – how Boris Johnson, having won the referendum and in pole position to be the next PM, handed victory to Theresa May.

Based on extensive research and first-person testimonies, this dramatized narrative goes beyond the headlines to lay bare the politicking and positioning, betrayals and blunders of this extraordinary political time. The programme also features key interviews with people who were intimately involved in the campaigns of the main contenders.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, this is what Michael Fabricant looks like:

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in TV and film.


  • Bernard Aris 9th Jul '17 - 3:17pm

    If this is the reconstruction broadcast on BBC TV a week or two ago, I can certainly endorse the recommendation.

    The simmering distrust between all the camps of all contenders (right from the start the Boris people didn’t trust the Gove people farther than the garden fence), and Boris’s clumsy handling of personal relations (Mrs. Leadsom…) will etch a portait that will hinder the present generation of Tory front runners in al upcoming Tory leadership contests.
    And it will inspire the question: “yes but how will you ever win back the trust of your contenders’ supporters”…

    Jeffrey “First among Equals” Archer novel material…

  • Boris’ character is not so surprising if you have any experience of how Boris survived his years “running” London. He was the charasmatic chaos at the centre of his administration; he relied upon some very organised people to keep him on the rails and get the day job done for him, whilst lazily winging his way through most of his engagements with a mixture of bluster and misplaced humour. He was really only interested in a handful of grandiose new schemes (the bikes, cable car, etc.) and the best that can be said of him is that he does have some skill in selecting people for his team who will do all the work and be allowed to get on with it.

    Whether this could ever work as PM is an interesting question. My instinct is not, since someone who doesn’t do any homework would clearly be very high risk in the top job, but one has to say that the alternative model of control-freak PMs has been tested to destruction by Brown and May. Reagan as US President is the closest positive model that comes to mind.

  • the best that can be said of him is that he does have some skill in selecting people for his team who will do all the work and be allowed to get on with it.

    IIRC, there is a line in Machiavelli that this is by far the most important skill for a ruler.

  • @ Ian “the best that can be said of him is that he does have some skill in selecting people for his team who will do all the work and be allowed to get on with it. ”

    I’m afraid you’re being too charitable, Ian, You’ve clearly forgotten the Ray Lewis fiasco and a report in The Guardian o 26th November 2009 with an assessment by the think tank, The Institute for Government, which, “seized on the high profile departures of five mayoral advisers since Johnson came to office as mayor of London 19 months ago to highlight the pitfalls of leaders not preparing properly for government.

    The think tank, which looks at increasing government effectiveness, said that his “absence of planning” beforehand meant appointments were “not thought through”.

    He had “no experience at all, or feel” for making mayoral appointments and knew “virtually none of the potential candidates for his top team”

  • Phhhhwaaw…………………’You’re a Nasty Piece of Work, Aren’t You? .
    Video for Boris Johnson you’re a nasty piece of work▶ 3:19
    25 Mar 2013 – Uploaded by LIVEFREE ORDIE

    Showing Boris Johnson’s lovable side and his ability to deal with penetrating questions. Makes May look strong & stable.

  • jayne Mansfield 9th Jul '17 - 9:08pm

    @ David Raw,
    In my opinion, he is indeed a nasty piece of work, and I refuse to treat him as a ‘character’ because I can see nothing benign about his carefully constructed buffoonery, or clever about his 2.1 classics degree, references.

    Sir Max Hastings, who sacked Johnson, made an excoriating assessment of him.

  • Richard Underhill 10th Jul '17 - 8:32am

    Please use the latest pictures of Boris’ haircut, shorter.
    When Michael Heseltine wanted to be defence secretary he had a shorter haircut.

  • Richard Underhill 10th Jul '17 - 8:36am

    As London Mayor Boris had a number of very able appointed deputy mayors who we saw on the Sunday Politics London region. The elected body was chaired by a Liberal Democrat (now a peer) who we see chairing debates at our conference, keeping tightly to time. She asked precise questions, he waffled.

  • Jayne `mansfield 10th Jul '17 - 7:13pm

    @ Paul Walter,
    For goodness sake Paul. don’t you understand how any reference to Johnson’s hairstyle feeds into his carefully constructed personna?

    How about mentioning his reference to black people as ‘piccanannines’ and their ‘water melon smiles’.

    Or how about his 2010:-

    Friends, Voters countrymen , ( he has a 2.1 in Classic because the examiners seemed to have failed to recognise his brilliance):-

    ‘If gay marriage was OK – and I was uncertain on the issue- then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men , as well as two men or indeed or three men or a dog.

    Or indeed his earlier published comments when he criticised ‘ Labour’s appalling agenda , encouraging homosexuality in schools , and all the rest of it.’

    Yeh, Yeh, he’s been on a ‘journey’ . Perhaps his new hairstyle signals a break with the past.

  • Yeovil Yokel 10th Jul '17 - 8:26pm

    I haven’t managed to view the programme yet. Does it cast any light on how on earth Johnson came to be appointed as our Foreign Secretary almost exactly one year ago? After I’d recovered from my initial incredulity I thought that this could only be explained as being part of a Cunning Plan by Theresa May – a plan so devilishly cunning that it could only have been devised by Dr. Wiley Fox-Baldrick himself, Emeritus Professor of Cunning Planning at Cambridge University’s Department of Extremely Clever Thinking.

    But I now realise that I overestimated May. What on earth was she thinking, was she ‘persuaded’ into this by the Barmy Brexit Army wing of the Tory Party? Does anyone know?

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