July 5, 2014 by Paul Goldsmith
Should the Conservatives win the next election, you should expect to see George Osborne become Foreign Secretary. It is believed that should the Prime Minister be re-elected, the European agenda would be the dominant issue, and some MPs believe he would want Mr Osborne to play a central role in European policy before the in-out referendum in 2017. This is particularly important as it seems to be common knowledge that William Hague will be stepping down as a front-line Minister after the 2015 election.
This makes sense because if the Conservatives win the next election, it will be because the medicine that Osborne gave the economy has worked. Having being judged by the electorate to have met the greatest challenge of the 2010-2015 Parliament, it would make sense for him to meet the greatest challenge of the 2015-2020 Parliament, which will be the successful renegotiation of the terms of the UK’s membership of the EU to the point where the 2017 EU referendum that the Conservatives would have to hold should they win. Cameron will be able to say that since the duo had delivered the UK out of the recession, they can be trusted the UK to success in the EU.
For George Osborne this makes sense too. Should Cameron step down sometime in the next Parliament, the chances are that Osborne will want to challenge for the leadership. Should he do that, then whatever his position in the 2015-2020 Cabinet will be, he will definitely be campaigning on whatever side Cameron is on in the 2017 EU referendum. This means that whatever new deal Cameron and his future Foreign Secretary achieve, Osborne will be tied to it, so he might as well be the one negotiating that deal. Should he be standing in the next Conservative leadership election, to be able to add wresting key concessions from the French to the turnaround in the economy he is effecting it will make him one strong challenger.
Secondly Gordon Brown used to joke that ‘there are two kinds of Chancellor: those whose careers end in failure, and those who get out in time.’ If the Conservatives win the next election Osborne can leave the Treasury on a high, and avoid the failures that might ensue. However hard it might seem to mend Britain’s relationship with Jean-Claude Juncker is nothing compared to the second bout of austerity that will be needed at some point in order to deal with the continuing problem of the UK’s deficit and debt. I will talk about this problem in tomorrow’s blog.