“The idea that he has traction with remain voters is absurd,” said Tim Bale, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, “so it has to be about something else, and that has to be about keeping himself in the public eye.”
It would not be the first time. Last year he caused a stir before the Conservative Party’s annual conference by publishing a lengthy essay on his Brexit vision. More recently, he made headlines with calls for higher health spending, perhaps seeking to justify his widely debunked claim that quitting the European Union would free up around $500 million a week for the National Health Service.
Years ago, Mr. Johnson’s famously dismissed his prospects of becoming prime minister as being “about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or me being reincarnated as an olive.”
But more recently — and plausibly — he admitted his ambitions, likening his approach to becoming leader to grabbing a football if it “came loose from the back of the scrum,” a term from Rugby football akin to a fumble in American football.
In 2016 that ball slipped, agonizingly, from his grasp after the Brexit referendum, when Mr. Johnson was abandoned by key allies and forced to withdraw from the contest to replace the former prime minister, David Cameron, who quit after the plebiscite. Theresa May went on to take the crown.
But Mr. Johnson may be sensing another moment of opportunity, as Mrs. May struggles to control her cabinet amid calls from some of her own lawmakers for her to step aside.
Brexit has caught her in an unforgiving political vise. A “soft”, departure, protecting business by retaining close economic ties to the bloc, is being opposed by Brexit enthusiasts in the cabinet, including Mr. Johnson.
But a “hard Brexit,” or clean break, of the type such right-wing and Brexit supporters favor, could be rejected by Parliament, plunging Mrs. May’s government into a terminal…