Monday, 23 May 2016

Mail Online| Dan Hodges: Every time his enemies think they've caught him, Osborne breaks free. Now it's Boris's turn to find out why they call George... The Great Escaper

Mail Online| Dan Hodges: Every time his enemies think they've caught him, Osborne breaks free. Now it's Boris's turn to find out why they call George... The Great Escaper


"This referendum was supposed to represent the final nail in George Osborne’s coffin. It was going to drive an unbridgeable wedge between him and Tory party activists, drive a similar wedge between him and his parliamentary colleagues, and see Boris Johnson cement his reputation as the man who could reach those parts of the electorate other Conservative politicians simply couldn’t reach.

But quietly and skilfully, Osborne is starting to use the campaign to redefine himself, and in so doing redefine the terms of the Tory leadership race.

At this week’s press conference, Ed Balls came out with a remarkable statement. ‘Say what you like about George Osborne, at least he’s putting the country’s interests before his own on this issue, in contrast to some of his rivals.’ Given the personal history between the two men – Balls once came within a hair’s breadth of marching around the Dispatch Box and punching Osborne during a furious clash over the Libor rate-rigging scandal – it was a staggeringly generous intervention.

But it also perfectly encapsulates Team Osborne’s strategy. To paint George Osborne as the man who sees tough choices, confronts them head on and puts the country first, while painting Boris Johnson as the man who sees tough choices, tells a humorous anecdote about them in Latin, then puts Boris Johnson first."


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