It is crucial for Johnson that he delivers tangible benefits for voters in ‘red wall’ seats – but can he do it?
A handful of working-class accents on the government benches, welcome though they are, do not a cultural revolution make
New Labour, New Boris. The prime minister sought to put the seal on his election victory by visiting Sedgefield, Tony Blair’s former constituency and one of the bricks in Labour’s “red wall” that used to stretch from northeast England through the midlands to Wales.
Boris Johnson now claims to speak for the working class, advocating an early Blairite combination of economic populism and calculated patriotism. In this, he is merely taking over a deep change in British politics that was already happening under Theresa May, by which the Brexit cleavage has made the Conservative vote more blue-collar and the Labour vote more middle class.
Despite his upper-class twit persona, Mr Johnson does it with more energy and conviction than Ms May, a Home Counties trestle-table Tory to her bones. And there were some nice touches in Mr Johnson’s victory speech on Friday morning, welcoming the “new dawn” and promising to change his party so that it delivers for those new voters who lent their support to it for the first time on Thursday.