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By Andrew Gimson
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Boris Johnson
today reminds us that there is nowhere more beautiful than England in May. In
his Telegraph column he describes, in the manner of a latter-day Jerome K.
Jerome, a bicycle ride from London to Oxfordshire. It is a delightful Bank
Holiday read.

And it has the
other great advantage of keeping him off the political topic of the moment,
which is how to deal with UKIP. Tories cannot help wondering which future
leader might be able to reunite them with Conservative activists who have
joined Nigel Farage’s party, and voters who support it.

Who, as it were,
is the Farage of the Conservative party? Does it happen to possess a well-known
man or woman who refuses to play the cautious game of the PPE graduates who lead
the two main parties? Is there somewhere a Tory untainted by dreary political
correctness, who is prepared to take risks and tell jokes? For in order to see off
Farage, a person is required who sounds trenchant, independent-minded,
staunchly Conservative, yet capable of appealing far beyond the ranks of
signed-up Conservatives, not least because he or she has the ability to cheer
people up, and appears to be fun to have a drink with.


It is conceivable that even now some obscure Tory is about to leap before a wider
public and emerge as the party’s answer to Farage. But the only prominent Tory
to fit the bill – so prominent that he goes under his first name only – is
Boris.

Already the Mayor
of London has begun to remind us how well suited he would be to perform the great
service of bringing UKIP, the lost Tory tribe, back into the bosom of the
Conservative Party. For in last Monday’s column, Boris declared, with
characteristic optimism:

“Rather than
bashing UKIP, I reckon Tories should be comforted by their rise – because the
real story is surely that these voters are not turning to the one party that is
meant to be providing the official opposition. The rise of UKIP confirms a)
that a Tory approach is broadly popular and b) that in the middle of a
parliament, after long years of recession, and with growth more or less flat,
the Labour Party is going precisely nowhere…Now is not the time…to slag them
[UKIP] off for appearing to think, in large part, what many Conservatives
think.”

It’s an ill wind
that blows nobody any good. When the Tories want someone who can beat
Farage, they are bound
to wonder whether to turn to Boris.

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