His work (?) done, would-be UK prime minister Boris Johnson is slinking out the back door instead of, as expected, campaigning to replace David Cameron:
The battle for the Conservative leadership was dramatically transformed today after Boris Johnson ruled himself out of the race.
It followed the shock declaration from Michael Gove that he would throw his hat in the ring because he didn’t believe his close friend was up to the job.
He said: “I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead. I have, therefore, decided to put my name forward for the leadership.”
Conservative MPs who turned up for what they thought would be Boris Johnson’s decision to stand for the Tory leadership at the St Ermine hotel near Scotland Yard are absolutely furious.
Johnson’s live announcement produced one of the greatest political theater tidbits I’ve ever seen, which generated the title of this very post:
It’s not that Johnson is shrinking from the spotlight voluntarily, it’s more that he just got kneecapped by his erstwhile pal Gove, the current Justice Secretary who is probably going to face a rockier road to the big job than Johnson would have (the early betting favorite now is actually Home Secretary Teresa May). To be fair to Gove, though, Johnson kind of kneecapped himself when he declared after the referendum, with a sort of deer-in-headlights air, that, if it were up to him, wink-wink nudge-nudge, he’d be in no particular hurry to follow up on the vote to leave the EU by actually, uh, taking steps to leave the EU. Though to be even fairer to everybody, Gove has said much the same thing, and at the same time there are some European lawyers wondering if the referendum, non-binding on UK lawmakers as it may have been, has actually already triggered the infamous Article 50, starting the UK’s 2 year clock to full-on Brexit.
Gove, who while lacking Johnson’s hilarious head of hair, would as PM undoubtedly be fodder for larfs (thought I’d throw in a little British for you there) in his own right:
was perhaps most famous before the “Leave” campaign for, back when he was Education Secretary, insisting that all schools in the UK could and should be performing at a level above the national average, showing that innumeracy among our political leaders is really an international crisis. My impression from the little I’ve read about him is that he’s thought to be smart but also conniving and even devious, and his maneuvering here isn’t going to do anything to change the latter perception. The important thing, as Gove opens his campaign to be the UK’s next PM, is that he thinks he’s “constitutionally incapable” of doing the job and “[doesn’t] have what it takes.” So…good luck with that.