Jonathan Isaby’s pick: 2009 is the year when the pledge made by David Cameron during the 2005 leadership election to pull Conservative MEPs out of the federalist European Peoples’ Party faction in Brussels should finally come to fruition. The man who has been doing the most behind the scenes to seek new alliance partners across Europe is Mark Francois, the shadow Europe minister. There’s another six months’ work to be done on this before the European elections, after which we will discover which political parties from across the continent are willing to sign up to a new grouping. European Parliament rules have been designed to frustrate the project – but if Mark can pull it off, he will attain folk hero status among Tory eurosceptics.
Tim Montgomerie’s pick: I was tempted to choose Barack Obama for this category. He’s certainly the one to watch on the international stage but he could also have a dramatic impact on UK politics. If he undertakes far-reaching economic intervention he may boost Gordon Brown. On the other hand his freshness and sense of change may boost David Cameron. But, on balance, I’ve plumped for a domestic choice and my one to watch for 2009 is Boris Johnson. He has already made a terrific start as Mayor – certainly exceeding my expectations. I think of him freezing the Mayor’s contribution to council tax. Ousting Ian Blair. Banning alcohol on the tube. Stopping the extension of the congestion charge. Introducing crime mapping. ConHome surveys show that he’s the most popular Tory amongst the grassroots – more popular than William Hague or David Cameron. What will he do with the Mayoralty in 2009? He has the opportunity to be a trailblazer for many Tory ideas although with his ideas on a new London airport and an immigration amnesty he has made it clear that he’s his own man
Who would you pick out as the one to watch in 2009?