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Boris Johnson’s rise and rise could have been strangled at birth in the 2008 London Mayoral campaign.
I was a press officer at Labour HQ part of the campaign to return Ken Livingstone for a third term in City Hall.
Livingstone was a good Mayor but a lacklustre campaigner unwilling to take the fight to Johnson.
Even more important was that Tory campaign chief Lynton Crosby successfully gagged his wayward candidate. We were relying on Johnson to commit the gaffes which had been part of his political persona. Crosby stopped that.
A scoop by Sky’s Lewis Goodall gives us hopes that Johnson the gaffer has re-emerged. Goodall got his hands on a video of a rambling Johnson speech to Tories in Northern Ireland. In it, he is asked point-blank if any NI>GB trade will be subject to customs declarations. PM: “You will absolutely not. If anyone asks you to do that tell them to ring up the PM and I’ll direct them to put that for in the bin.”
As Channel 4’s Factcheck showed, Johnson contradicts his own cabinet on Northern Ireland trade.
Putting it bluntly Johnson was lying to Northern Ireland Tories. It comes in at number six on Labour’s recent video of just ten of the many times he has lied.
In The Guardian Marina Hyde sums up his first week as: “Lurching and rambling, Boris Johnson is in charge. But he’s lost control.”
Whether Johnson gets away with his Brexit gamble will depend on tactical voting by Remain voters. Gina Miller, who led the case against the government’s suspension of parliament, has recently launched her website Remain United.
Compared to the 180 recommended by Best for Britain. Remain United’s model suggests that the Lib Dems are only likely to win 33 seats if there is a significant tactical voting drive. However, both have said they will do polls near the end of the election campaign and update their recommendations accordingly.