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10 June 2019updated 23 Jun 2021 10:07am

“Without a mandate from the British people”: how Boris Johnson described Gordon Brown in 2007

By joseph Conrad

The problem with writing a regular newspaper column when you’re a chronic wannabe prime minister is clearer than ever in this 2007 Telegraph piece that your mole has dredged up.

Writing about the Labour prime minister Gordon Brown, who took over from Tony Blair without an election, Boris Johnson lays into Brown’s lack of “mandate from the British people”. He describes the “transition about as democratically proper as the transition from Claudius to Nero”, calling it a “scandal”, “fraud” and “nothing less than a palace coup”.

Here’s his intro:

“It’s the arrogance. It’s the contempt. That’s what gets me. It’s Gordon Brown’s apparent belief that he can just trample on the democratic will of the British people. It’s at moments like this that I think the political world has gone mad, and I am alone in detecting the gigantic fraud.”

His description of Tony Blair being elected in the last general election, 2005:

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“They voted for Anthony Charles Lynton Blair to serve as their leader. They were at no stage invited to vote on whether Gordon Brown should be PM… They voted for Tony, and yet they now get Gordon, and a transition about as democratically proper as the transition from Claudius to Nero. It is a scandal. Why are we all conniving in this stitch-up? This is nothing less than a palace coup… with North Korean servility, the Labour Party has handed power over to the brooding Scottish power-maniac.”

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Specifically on his lack of a mandate:

“The extraordinary thing is that it looks as though he will now be in 10 Downing Street for three years, and without a mandate from the British people. No one elected Gordon Brown as Prime Minister…”

And, the final flourish, a call for an election and a vote on the UK’s status within the EU:

“Gordon Brown could appease public indignation over that, and secure the democratic mandate he needs, by asking the public to vote at once on him, on the new EU treaty, and on the implications of the devolutionary settlement. Let’s have an election without delay.”

Johnson looks to be the most likely winner of the Tory leadership election, which begins in earnest today. But he insists as prime minister he would be able to deliver Brexit without first calling a general election – in fact, he’s said Brexit needs to be done first, before a general election. And he’s ruled out a second referendum.

It’s the arrogance. It’s the contempt. That’s what gets your mole. It’s Johnson’s apparent belief that he can just trample on the democratic will of the British people…

(Read the whole column here).

This piece is taken from the Johnson audit series