Will Boris be tempted?
Last night’s ComRes poll suggesting that the Tories under Johnson could secure a 40 seat majority raises the question once again of whether the new leader would risk going to the country soon after taking over the leadership.
The reasons are powerful. The need to get Brexit through by the end of October and, of course, a desire to underpin the perceived democratic legitimacy of his position. Johnson would be the first PM ever to have got the job as a result of a ballot restricted to his party’s membership.
There’s also the huge issue over Commons numbers as he tries to further the Brexit process. He looks set to be in an even worse parliamentary position than TMay with the likely loss in the Brecon by-election and the real possibility of some Tory MPs refusing to back him in a confidence vote.
Labour, still plagued by the lack of resolution over the charges of antisemitism and the ongoing divide over Brexit, might be an easier foe in September of October than Corbyn’s party was in June 2017.
As can be seen from the chart the betting chances of a 2019 election slipped markedly after reaching a peak in late March. The trend is moving upwards but it is still only a 43% chance.
But after working so hard to become leader and PM would Johnson dare risk it all by going to the country early. TMay’s GE2017 experience still casts a shadow over the party.
One way the next election might be unlike other recent contests is that the pro-Remain parties could get their act together and agree just one contender in each constituency as is happening at the Brecon by-election. The most accurate pollsters from last May have a GRN plus LD aggregate approaching 30% which could put a pact in a powerful position.