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Boris as Prime Minister? Why not?

Boris Johnson is more popular than the Westminster village thinks. Photo: REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico

One of the joys of being a Political Editor on the telly is that total strangers quite often approach you for a chat.

To date, these conversations have always been charming, friendly and polite and often amusingly begin without introduction ('that budget was a ruddy disaster, wasn't it?') as if continuing a conversation begun elsewhere.

I am not saying that these encounters constitute a scientific study of the electorate, but I have formed from them a pretty clear view that an awful lot of voters do as much as they possibly can to filter politics out of their lives.

They are not stupid or ignorant; many are interested in the world in general. But they have grown increasingly jaundiced in their view of British politicians and tend to think they are, for the most part, all pretty much as bad as each other.

There are many others, of course, who are thoroughly engaged, have passionate views and never change the party they vote for.

This kind of tribal loyalty is somewhat inexplicable to me, but there you are. Perhaps that is why I am a journalist and not a politician. But the obvious point to make is that it is the former group which decides elections.

All those Westminster hacks and officials who don't think Boris Johnson could be Prime Minister should probably therefore spend more time in conversation on random trains stations.

They will find that an awful lot of floating, non-aligned and disinterested voters find Boris engaging and hilarious. He appeals to them in a way no other politician of this generation is ever going to.

Of course, they would have reservations about making him Prime Minister, but when others describe him as a 'buffoon,' they tend to tell themselves that he is 'clever' and when pundits insist he doesn't have the experience, they think 'he didn't make too much of a hash of being Mayor of London.'

In the Westminster Village, the idea of Boris as Prime Minister is considered largely absurd.

But out there in the real world, I think it is - or could become - all too credible. He has a long, long way to go, of course.

But if you doubt his appeal, try walking down a street with him and see what I mean. It really isn't politics as we know it.

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