BY ROBERT FOX
Boris Johnson’s opening days at Number 10 have seen encouraging steps in the party’s recovery from Theresa May’s disastrous leadership. The appointment of Brexiteers to key Cabinet positions is finally allowing true believers to deliver Brexit, whilst the installation of the Thatcherite Sajid Javid to the Treasury will also be popular amongst traditional Tory voters. Other measures, such as a serious willingness to leave the EU without a deal, and the establishment of the office for Veterans Affairs, will also help to win back some of those who drifted away during the May years. Whilst a ‘Boris bounce’ has been reflected in recent polls, support for the Brexit Party remains high enough so to cost the Tories dearly in marginal seats in a general election.
There remains a vital vacancy which Johnson has yet to fill, that of British ambassador to Washington. In this appointment, Boris could both solve a domestic political problem and boost relations with the American administration, vital if Liz Truss is to have success in negotiating a favourable trade deal. To signal that his premiership is the beginning of Britain’s renewal as a global and free trading nation, Boris should appoint not a Foreign Office mandarin, but an outsider. At this crucial time, a business person with extensive private sector experience would be infinitely better suited to the role than a career civil servant.
Many would be capable and willing to take on this role, but the shrewdest appointment could be one of Johnson’s current political foes. The candidate? Brexit Party MEP Richard Tice. A successful property developer prior to his involvement in politics, Tice is a deal maker with whom Trump could relate to and do business with. Tice has been an energetic proponent of Brexit, and also shown his willingness to serve his country by choosing to enter public life and standing for election. Tice is a key Farage ally, and currently Chairman of the Brexit Party, meaning his appointment would be depriving the Brexit Party of one of their most capable operators.
There is no guarantee that Tice would accept the role if offered, but one can imagine it is an offer he would find extraordinarily hard to turn down. There could also be other obstacles to his appointment, such as the central position of Dominic Cummings in the new government – the Cummings-led Vote Leave had a series of clashes with rival pro-Brexit campaign group Leave.EU, in which Farage and Tice were heavily involved. However, should these be overcome, a Tice appointment might both dampen Farage’s attacks on the Conservatives, whilst also winning around supporters of the Leave.EU grouping, which retains a wide following on social media.
Whether or not Tice proves to be a workable candidate, the appointment of a career civil servant would be an opportunity wasted for the new government. Not only would the appointment of Tice – or an appointment of a business person like him – prove wise for the reasons mentioned above, but would also demonstrate to both the EU and to Britain’s civil servants that this prime minister, unlike the last, was serious about leaving Europe behind to pursue the opportunities available further afield.
Robert Fox is a Guest Writer from Ireland.