Boris Johnson now faces his greatest battle in defeating Nicola Sturgeon - Adam Tomkins

Boris Johnson now faces a battle to unite the country
Boris Johnson now faces a battle to unite the country
Share this article
Have your say

The SNP leader is the most dangerous populist of all, according to Tory MSP Adam Tomkins

The greatest threat to Britain’s parliamentary democracy is populism. Earlier this year I voted for Boris Johnson to become the leader of the Tory party because I thought that he would defeat the three populists who most imperil our country. Yesterday he disposed of the first two. Nigel Farage is now an irrelevance in British politics, and Jeremy Corbyn’s unreconstructed Marxism has been comprehensively rejected at the ballot box. Two out of three ain’t bad; but the job is not yet complete. Now Boris Johnson must turn his sights on the most dangerous populist of all—Nicola Sturgeon.

I understand the concern that some Scottish Unionists feel that, in taking on Farage and Corbyn as he has, Boris Johnson has risked making his greatest battle all the harder. But I see it differently. In a few short weeks, Brexit will be in the rear view mirror—and it will look very different once it is there. The new administration, unlike the drudgery of the past three years, will not be focused on Brexit. It will be focused on everything else, and top of its agenda will be uniting the country.

Like all Conservatives of the centre ground, the Prime Minister talks of his “one-nation” Conservatism. But he knows we are four nations and he understands (more clearly, in my judgement, than either of his immediate predecessors did) that the Union requires careful attention and a great deal of work. The Union requires not merely to be safeguarded and strengthened, but to be reborn. Old assumptions need to be rethought. How the United Kingdom spends money in the devolved nations is just the start of it.

This is not about taking powers back from the devolved administrations. Far from it. But neither is it about salami-slicing the British state any further, with yet another tranche of devolved powers. It’s about fresh thinking about shared powers, common endeavour, and harnessing the power of government to do good. Boris Johnson is an interventionist. He believes in infrastructure. He believes in investment in our cities as motors of economic growth. He believes that the era of “devolve and forget” is over.

Two dragons were slain yesterday. A third awaits. Under Boris Johnson’s leadership, our post-Brexit kingdom really can become united once more. He has no greater challenge.