08:28

Disraeli and Johnson

Disraeli must be the most unlikely prime minister imaginable. A Jew (though his father converted to Anglicanism), a dandy with a reputation for absence of principles, almost always teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, a (melodramatic) novelist and, despite all this, the leader of the landed wing of the Tories. Then in the 1840s, as now, the Tories were split. Then it was over Robert Peel’s attempt to repeal the Corn Laws in order to allow cheaper inports of corn to feed an increasingly restive and newly industrialized working class. Now it’s Brexit.

And we have our own Disraeli in the form of Boris Johnson who resembles Disraeli in so many ways. He too is regarded as self-servingly devoid of principles and writes biographies and journalism to make ends meet. They are both scorned and distrusted in equal measure to their acknowledged intelligence and charisma.

How did it work out for Disaeli? He split his party and effectively kept the Tories out of government for a generation. But in the end he became a statesman of international fame and the ‘father’ of modern conservatism - revered by all ‘soft’ Tories as a model to be emulated.

Life is long. How will it play for Johnson? He must hope for something similar - but there is the small matter of the generation out of power......
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