Tim Shipman of the Murdoch Sunday Times clearly thought he was on to a winner when he secured the paper’s front page lead today with the headline “Boris: my case for Britain to stay in Europe … Secret article reveals his argument for ‘remain’”. To no surprise at all, Bozza had written a pro-Remain column just two days before declaring he was a committed follower of Vote Leave. And his reasoning was clear.
A total muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street
The ST is behind a paywall, but the Guardian has reported the main points of the article (see how that works, Rupe?), that Bozza “said Britain’s continued membership of the EU would be a ‘boon for the world and for Europe’ … Johnson wrote of the EU: ‘This is a market on our doorstep, ready for further exploitation by British firms. The membership fee seems rather small for all that access. Why are we so determined to turn our back on it?’”
Bozza’s apologia, given to Sky News, was “it is perfectly true that back in February I was wrestling with it, like I think a lot of people in this country, and I wrote a long piece which came down overwhelmingly in favour of leaving … I then thought I better see if I can make the alternative case for myself so I then wrote a sort of semi-parodic article in the opposite sense, which has mysteriously found its way into the paper this morning”.
Very not convincing at all, especially when put alongside his thought that “I have been thinking: hmmm. I like the sound of freedom; I like the sound of restoring democracy. But what are the downsides - and here we must be honest … There is the worry about Scotland, and the possibility that an English-only ‘leave’ vote could lead to the break-up of the union … There is the Putin factor”. All good reason to vote Remain.
But this still does not explain why Bozza spent so much time apparently wrestling with his conscience before finally coming down on the Leave side of the argument. Shipman has floated a number of possibilities: his book “claims Sir Lynton Crosby told Johnson to support Brexit once Cameron had ignored the election strategist’s advice to delay the referendum”. But Lynt was not the reason Bozza finally jumped.
We can ignore Bozza’s smokescreen “But I set them side by side and it was blindingly obvious what the right thing to do was, and I think the people made the right decision, they voted very substantially to leave the European Union, that is what we’re going to do and we’re going to make a great success of it”, especially as he and his pals have no idea how they are going to proceed, and the currency markets have rumbled them.
Also easily dismissed is the claim “Johnson ‘wanted to punch’ his Brexit ally Michael Gove after the former justice secretary announced his own bid to become prime minister”. “Oiky” Gove did what he did because he had discovered why Bozza had backed Vote Leave, and that a Johnson premiership was as a result out of the question.
So we come back to the $64K question: what was the leverage imposed on Bozza to make him join Vote Leave, and who performed the imposition? If the gory detail has reached Zelo Street, someone in the press will have chapter and verse.
Shipman has opened the door a little, but not nearly enough. There is much more to come.