Peace then war: Cameron and Johnson

The debate on Europe has quickly morphed from household living costs to matters of war and peace. David Cameron yesterday delivered a keynote speech in which  he cautioned that Brexit could lead to a crumbling Europe with an increased likelihood of war. It was a bold claim to make and pro-Brexit papers mocked the claims as sensationalist yesterday. In a sign of how divisive the debate is becoming, Boris Johnson took the bait and led opposition from the leave camp with a similarly brazen claim – that war in Ukraine is the result of EU expansionism. He is now being dubbed by some as an apologist for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

 It is difficult to see how either side is gaining much from this rhetoric when the number one factor influencing the public’s decision is still the economy and jobs. Johnson has looked to refocus the debate by outlining five key questions for the Prime Minister. They range from migration to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice but none focus on if British people will be better off financially, the greatest chink in the leave camp armour and one of the strengths for the remain side. This is emphasised by polling which shows Cameron and George Osborne polling favourably when it comes to the economics.

 Johnson is rapidly establishing his helm at the top of the leave camp and going all-in with his political credibility. Amongst the wearier personalities of the leave camp such as Chris Grayling, Ian Duncan Smith and Nigel Farage, he is standing out as the golden boy and certainly enjoys the most support amongst the public. His speech yesterday was an attempt to present a “liberal and cosmopolitan” case for Brexit  in contrast to the assumption that his side is dominated by ‘little Englanders’. His dominance will come at great political cost for him as he gambles his medium-term political credibility. It has also undeniably led to open war with his once close friend, David Cameron. 

Metin Parlak

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search