This is a daily blog about Britain’s next General Election, in which Eater London will find even the most tangential means of writing about the intersection of politics and food.
Is Boris Johnson rattled? How much does Boris Johnson like pork pies? How much of a coincidence is it that a politician so skilled in what their hero called “terminological inexactitude” would stand for election in the home of “lies” (in Cockney rhyming slang.)
For the past fortnight, speculation has mounted over whether the Prime Minister would switch seats — effectively admitting that he was unconvinced of his own ability to seek reelection in the constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, which he has held since 2005. The upside of doing so — and by moving to a so-called “safe seat”, which all but guarantees his reelection — would ensure his ability to remain leader of the Conservative Party and by effect his ability to be Prime Minister. The downside: it somewhat betrays his own self-belief.
This lunchtime, Ben Page, of Ipsos Mori, one of the country’s leading psephologists announced on Twitter (before deleting) that Johnson is “apparently relocating from Uxbridge to Melton [Mowbray]” — apparently confirming the party’s concern around the security of his comparatively slender majority 5,034. Although it would still be a surprise if Johnson were unseated in Uxbridge, Labour activists have said they will concentrate efforts there in support of its candidate, the 25-year-old Ali Milani, which appears to have at the very least put the Prime Minister on high alert.
The constituency of Melton and Rutland is currently held by Conservative MP Alan Duncan, who in 2017 achieved a majority of 23,104. It centres on the town of Melton Mowbray, the home of one of Britain’s most recognisable proprietary food stuffs, the pork pie: a hot water crust filled with savoury pork meat and jelly.
Johnson has previous with Melton Mowbray pork pies: he misattributed the food, which has Protected Geographical Indication, as a potential beneficiary of Brexit’s necessitating a trade deal with Donald Trump. This was dismissed by the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association. “Telling porkies? Boris Johnson’s Melton Mowbray pork pie claim fails truth test,” said the Guardian headline.
Johnson’s own team quickly moved to dismiss reports that the Prime Minister is heading to Melton. ITV’s Paul Brand said “Melton Mowbray Conservative Association tell me they have their selection on Friday and haven’t put together a shortlist yet.”
Watch that space.