Two political heavyweights. Only one top job
Boris Johnson and George Osborne are the two frontrunners jostling for supremacy in the race to succeed David Cameron as the leader of the Conservative Party.
For those who cannot decide between two of the supremos of Tory party politics, we have put together a handy guide on the key differences between the contenders:
The bumbling buffoon and the austere statesman. Both Johnson and Osborne pursue deliberate strategies to furnish a public persona. These personas happen to be entirely dichotomous: Johnson is a loveable rogue with a gift for colourful oratory; Osborne is a reliable, level-headed figure who is not afraid (in his eyes) to make tough but necessary decisions.
Osborne has been portrayed as a callous figure willing to wield his axe in order to cut child tax credits. Johnson, on the other hand, has contradicted Osborne by warning that cuts to tax credits without an increase in welfare could inflict harm upon the 'hardest working and lowest paid'.
Osborne is well-known for being pro-Europe. The Chancellor is currently leading the European negotiations, with the ultimate aim of persuading Britain to remain in the EU. In contrast, sceptics’ hero Johnson has said that he can easily see himself voting to leave Europe, describing the watering down of renegotiation demands as ‘very disappointing’.
Immigration and the Refugee Crisis
Immigration is a prime example of the strategic differences between Osborne and Johnson on controversial issues. Osborne steadfastly sticks to the party line, using moderate language: ‘we’ve got to make sure we offer, as we always have as a country, a home to genuine refugees’. Johnson, however, feels licensed to be more controversial, and has argued that many of Europe’s newest inhabitants are not refugees, but ‘economic migrants’ who would see welcoming policies ‘as an invitation to up-sticks and arrive in Europe’.
Boris is fiercely opposed to the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport, heroically vowing to lie down ‘in front of those bulldozers’. In response, after announcing that he would spend £1 million restoring an RAF control centre, Osborne made the thinly-veiled quip that the renovation would stand as a monument to ‘the days when aeroplanes flew freely over the skies of west London’.
When you spend £1 million of tax-payers’ money to make a joke at the expense of your political rival, then maybe tensions have got a bit too high. However, this merely serves to demonstrate the importance of the Tory headship to both protagonists. George Osborne is the restrained, mature statesman attempting to prove his credentials as the ‘People’s Chancellor’. Boris Johnson is a charismatic, often borderline ludicrous figure who appeals to our national sense of fun. Both view this as an ideal time to succeed David Cameron and eclipse an impotent Labour Party.
The early posturing has begun in earnest. Will either Boris or George emerge as the self-evident heir to Cameron before the Tory leadership contest in 2019? Perhaps future conferences will reveal more concrete answers.