It’s the sort of thing that doesn’t normally need to be said, that doesn’t usually make headlines – the leader of a political party backs another member of that party to win an election.
But yesterday, as he met Scottish Conservative party leader Ruth Davidson, Boris Johnson was moved to state publicly that he was “totally with Ruth in her political ambitions” and that he hoped “she succeeds here in Scotland”. “I will certainly do all I can to assist her,” he added.
Davidson was a “fantastic leader” and he was a “massive fan” who was “lost in admiration” for her achievements.
Some speculated his toughest meeting during his visit to Scotland would not be with Nicola Sturgeon but with Davidson, after she insisted forcefully that she would oppose a no-deal Brexit.
What effect, if any, the Johnson charm offensive has had is unclear, but it is unlikely to have made her change her view on the prospect of leaving the EU on 31 October without a deal in place.
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And, on this one issue at least, the leaders of all Scotland’s main political parties at Holyrood – left and right, unionist or nationalist – are united in opposition to a no-deal.
When Davidson says no-deal is a threat to the Union, Sturgeon would nod in agreement even if from a different point of view.
Johnson may be bluffing over no-deal, he may be serious, it’s hard to tell. He may not be quite sure himself.
But, just as he did while deciding whether to support Leave or Remain ahead of the 2016 referendum, he may decide to write articles presenting the case for no-deal and a case against it.
Assuming he is not implacably set upon no-deal unless the EU gives in to hard-Brexiteers’ demands, then his mind can still be influenced.
Delaying Brexit or agreeing a deal too similar to Theresa May’s would come with a political cost, but it would be nothing to the damage – to the country, not just Johnson’s reputation – caused by a lasting no-deal recession.
So, given the very real danger and the need to make a strong impression, Scotland’s political leaders could take a virtually unprecedented step by coming together as one on the major political issue of the day.
Presenting a united front against the prospect of a no-deal Brexit – emphasising the effect on the Union – might just be the thing that swings the balance of the debate within our new Prime Minister’s mind.