After a chauffeur-driven visit to the University of Portsmouth in his role
as Conservative Party spokesman on higher education, Mr Johnson wrote in GQ
magazine: “The streets are full of rain. Poor bedraggled students splash across
the campus in search of their lectures on feminism and media studies. Here we
are in one of the most depressed downs in southern England, a place that is
arguably too full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs.”
Personally, I'd have thought that came under the category of 'fair comment'. Or at least it would be if he wasn't a front bencher. The fact of the matter is that these remarks were made while he was on a front bench visit to Portsmouth university, but at the same time writing a review of a £340,000 gas guzzling car. If I was Penny Mordaunt, Conservative Candidate for one of the Portsmouth seats I'd be livid.
But this episode represents a clasic example of Boris's outside interests getting in the way of his front bench job. If he hadn't been writing a magazine article he wouldn't have made the remarks and given the city's Labour MPs a stick to beat him with. You can hardly blame them for relishing the opportunity.
Boris has actually done a very good job in his role as Higher Education spokesman. He's one of the few Tories with a national profile and rather than dispatching Boris to the back benches because of remarks like this, I think a different course should be taken.
Boris should be promoted to the Shadow Cabinet and told in no uncertain terms that this is his final chance. He has to give up the outside interests (with one or two agreed exceptions, like HIGNFY) and concentrate on the job. It's said that Boris has great ambitions in politics. Well it's now time for him to prove he's got what it takes to be part of a team and rise to the top.
Picture credit: Not sure where this one came from - anyone know?