Why London Mayor Boris Johnson Backs (Unlikely) Brexit

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 2/22/2016 01:30:00 AM
Would this guy be able to convince Britons to leave the EU?
A few days ago, UK Prime Minister David Cameron negotiated concessions from the European Union that he believes are sufficient to keep his country in it. (The BBC has a good backgrounder on these concessions and the referendum overall.) This notion will be put to the test on June 23 through a referendum on whether to remain in the EU decided by a simple majority. One of the interesting side stories is that his old friend and London Mayor Boris Johnson has now decided to campaign against Cameron with the "no" camp. While not entirely a surprise--he edited the rather Eurosceptic Spectator for a long time--the choice remains curious.

For one thing, the expectation among oddsmakers--yes, bookies--is that the UK will ultimately choose to remain anyway. Is backing a losing position also a loser for his political future? BBC pundit Laura Kuenssberg suggests otherwise. Quite soon, Cameron will step down and Johnson will have his shot at being PM. (Cameron said he will not contest the next elections.) To win the favor of the Eurosceptic party faithful who remain numerous and influential, Johnson has thus decided to cast his lot with the "no" faction:
Doing the rounds inside Number 10 and Number 11 (the chancellor's abode) so the theory goes, is that Boris is intent on becoming 'The Man Who Tried'. What? Well, as people await his likely final decision to plump for Brexit, Downing Street has concluded that he will go for Leave precisely because he is confident that they will lose.

This allows him to create the perfect platform for his leadership ambition - campaign for Leave, Remain wins, but Boris manages to then glide onto the leadership ballot as the man who gave it his damnedest, didn't quite pull it off, but can scoop up oodles of votes from the broken-hearted Tory membership, despairing in defeat, but ready to go over the top for their hero...

If you got this far, and feel enlightened by it all, then marvellous. If it seems fanciful, then don't say I didn't warn you! But with the prime minister having already announced that he's leaving his job before the next election, there is no escaping the fact that the future of the Tory leadership is a factor in both sides' campaigns. 
It sounds plausible, methinks. Like many things with these sorts of folks, it's partly conviction and partly calculation.