Boris Johnson secured 114 votes in the first ballot of the Conservative leadership contest last week. The former foreign secretary is the favourite to take over from Theresa May, but will not appear in Sunday night’s Channel 4 TV debate. Mr Johnson has been compared to Winston Churchill, by a LBC host, with the way he will be inheriting the country if he takes over as Tory leader.
Maajid Nawaz said: “The man Boris Johnson likes to compare himself most to, Winston Churchill, became Prime Minister, and led us through the Second World War in exactly the same way.
“Indeed, Winston Churchill took office in 1940, without a general election…he knows he could draw that analogy in his own defence because he likens himself to the man.
“It just so happens to be that history lined itself up in such a way that Winston Churchill took office without an election in 1940 and led us through World War Two.
“And we now happen to be back in the middle of a big spat with Europe and the man who likens himself to Winston Churchill will end up in office without an election in 2019 to lead this country through once again one of the most important decisions vis-a-vis our relationship with Europe.”
If I made up you’d think I’m making it up as a piece of fiction, it just happens to be true
LBC host Maajid Nawaz
Mr Nawaz added: “It’s an analogy, if I made up you’d think I’m making it up as a piece of fiction, it just happens to be true.
“Yet, I will say to you, with that aside, I recognise Winston Churchill did a great deal for this country even though he was unelected, I would say times have changed.
“In defence of my position, I would say times have changed. And I think elections now are probably important, and so I think it’s important that our next Prime Minister should be elected.”
The former foreign secretary has, however, been criticised for a lack of media interviews during the Tory leadership contest.
On Friday morning Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who came in second place in the first ballot, accused Mr Johnson of “hiding away”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think if you want to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, you have to get out there and make your case and that is what I am doing. We need to get some better choices for our country.
“Public hustings is not the same as the scrutiny of the media, the scrutiny of TV debates. This is about the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
“What would Churchill say if someone who wants to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is hiding away from the media, not taking part in these big occasions?”
International Development Secretary Rory Stewart also hit out at Mr Johnson for boycotting the debate, telling LBC the former foreign secretary was “running scared”.
Mr Johnson has turned down an invitation to appear during Channel 4’s television debate on Sunday night, which he said would be “cacophonous”.
But, Mr Johnson has said he will take part in Tuesday’s televised Tory leadership debate on the BBC.
He told the World at One on Friday: “I think it is important that we have a sensible, grown-up debate. My own observation is that in the past when you’ve had loads of candidates, it can be slightly cacophonous and I think the public have had quite a lot of blue-on-blue action, frankly, over the last three years.”
He added: “We don’t necessarily need a lot more of that, and so what I think the best solution would be to have a debate on what we all have to offer the country.
“The best time to do that, I think, would be after the second ballot on Tuesday and the best forum is the proposed BBC debate. I think that’s a good idea.”
On Tuesday, Conservative MPs will vote in the second ballot of the leadership race, in which candidates need to receive 10 percent of the vote (33 votes), to stay in the contest.
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