I’m writing this from the Conservative party conference where I can report that Boris Johnson, who has just wowed the blue rinses with a barn-storming speech, isn’t preparing a leadership bid. At least, that’s the line from all those closest to him. Without exception, they say if he was planning something they’d know about it and they don’t. It’s a media concoction. He’s a man without a plan.
I know, I know. That’s exactly what Boris’s team would say if they had just press-ganged the last of 48 MPs to sign a letter to the chairman of the 1922 Committee, which is the magic number needed to trigger a leadership election in this Parliament. And there are plenty of reasons to be sceptical. If Boris waits until Britain has left the EU, which is less than 18 months away, his chances will be significantly lower because the party will want a ‘clean skin’ to succeed Theresa May, not one of the protagonists in the Brexit drama. Someone who can unite the party around their vision for the future, not remind them of their disagreements in the past. Needless to say, there is no lack of younger players waiting for the ball to come loose from the scrum. Boris may only have one more ‘try’ left in him — and the clock is ticking. (To read more, click here.)