I’m writing this from the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham where I’ve been asking more or less everyone the same question: “When David Cameron gracefully exits the political stage in 2018, having won a thumping majority in 2015, who do you most want to succeed him: Boris Johnson or Michael Gove?”
The popular choice is BoJo, obviously. In his diaries, Alan Clark used the phrase “Fuhrer Kontakt” to describe the electrifying current that pulsed through him whenever he encountered Margaret Thatcher in the corridors of the House of Commons and there is only one Conservative politician who has a comparable effect on people today. Like Thatcher, Boris combines tremendous force of personality with a dash of vulnerability – an irresistible cocktail. He is adored by large swathes of the population, not just the Tory faithful, and that is a huge political asset.
But if you talk to the professionals – battle-hardened veterans of countless political wars – you begin to detect notes of caution. Could his “brand” withstand the inevitable scrutiny that would accompany a six-week general election campaign? Would the electorate really entrust him with the keys to Number 10? (To read more, click here.)