Tom Richmond: Why Boris Johnson must never become Prime Minister

I CRINGE every time that I hear a national broadcaster, or writer, simply refer to the ubiquitous Boris Johnson by his Christian name.

Boris Johnson should not be Prime Minister, writes Tom Richmond.
Boris Johnson should not be Prime Minister, writes Tom Richmond.

No other politician, I venture, is afforded the favourable first name treatment given to the former Foreign Secretary. What I do know, however, is that the plain Mr Johnson is a political wrecking ball whose current conduct is unworthy of a supposed statesman who aspires to become Prime Minister. David Davis, whose resignation as Brexit Secretary pre-empted Mr Johnson’s departure from the Foreign Office, hinted at when he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “I don’t know what Boris (Johnson) wants to do... we know what he wants, I don’t know what he’s planning to do.”

This preceded Mr Johnson’s provocative Daily Telegraph column on Monday in which he claimed that Theresa May’s Brexit plans would leave the country with “diddly squat” and hand victory to the EU. Yet, given Mr Johnson was Foreign Secretary for nearly two years, what did he do to put forward his own plan? He either kept schtum, which is unlikely, or lost the argument because any strategy was unworkable in practice.

The questions don’t end here. As Mr Johnson is an advocate of a hard Brexit, just how would he get his blueprint through the Commons where most MPs backed Remain? I guess he’s just agitating simply because it’s the best way to block a transitional exit from the EU and he, like Labour, has no plan B. These are hardly the actions of a democrat.

And then there’s the timing of his appearance at next month’s Tory conference. By choosing to speak about Brexit on the eve of Theresa May’s setpiece speech, he’s clearly intent on upstaging the leader and he knows that the national media are in awe of him.

Marriage break-up aside, Mr Johnson is proving himself thoroughly unworthy of high office. His political actions are just vacuous bluster from a man whose policy prospectus for Britain does not extend beyond his own scheming.

IT would be remiss not to acknowledge the formidable speeches delivered last weekend by former leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.

Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama both spoke with eloquence at the funeral of Senator John McCain who, in one of his last acts, forbade President Donald Trump from attending the service in Washington. And Gordon Brown’s courageous, and unscripted, speech on anti-Semitism could not have been more damning of the current Labour leadership’s mishandling of this issue.

Given President Bush – and Mr Brown – were not noted orators when they led, have they been liberated by being freed from the burdens of office or is it more a reflection on the extent to which political standards have diminished? Discuss.

IT is now customary for the start of the new academic year to start with a teacher training day and this week has been no exception.

Yet MPs and peers have not exactly been exerting themselves this week in spite of the magnitude of Brexit and its ramifications for the economy. The House of Commons, which rose for the summer on July 24, only resumed on Tuesday afternoon with sparsely-attended questions to Foreign Office ministers.

And it didn’t even sit yesterday. Though Fridays are traditionally set aside for well-meaning Private Members Bills, it’s ironic that many fall by the wayside because of time restraints. Looking at the current calibre of Ministers, and the paralysis over Brexit, I would have thought Parliament should be encouraging MPs to shape laws where a clear consensus can be reached with colleagues from rival parties.

PARLIAMENT’S delayed resumption did, at least, afford Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn the chance to travel the length of the trans-Pennine railway by train to talk to passengers and highlight the still shambolic service.

Yet some in Labour were slow off the mark with their call for a commissioner to be appointed to oversee the running of the TransPennine Express franchise. It was first proposed by this columnist on August 18. Just saying...

THE postponement of Crossrail’s opening in London is not a surprise. Transport minister Jo Johnson – Chris Grayling’s deputy – had first announced on the day of Parliament’s summer adjournment that the 73-mile scheme’s budget had increased from £14.8bn to £15.4bn due to “cost pressures”.

There needs to be a clear guarantee that this £600m won’t be diverted from money already earmarked for the neglected North. And, given the Department for Transport says Crossrail would add up to £42bn to the national economy, why can’t it show similar ambition over the upgrade of the trans-Pennine route?

JUST as the hospice movement is at the back of the queue for NHS funding, it’s a mystery that the RNLI does not receive Government support. Watching the BBC series Saving Lives At Sea, the work of lifeboat volunteers shouldn’t be so dependent on the benevolence of others when so many publicly-funded schemes do drain away money.

DON’T Yorkshire’s sports executives talk to each other? Next year’s Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, racing’s 
big week of the year at York, is due to come under starter’s orders on 
August 21 just a day before Headingley hosts the third Ashes Test between England and Australia’s cricket teams. What a clash, one that York chief executive William Derby and 
Yorkshire CCC supremo Mark Arthur should have foreseen when fixture planning.