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Can lawyers be leaders?

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Not so, says Boris — much to the annoyance of lawyers

Yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions was a typically fiery affair, with Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer exchanging blows across the dispatch boxes.

The Labour leader urged the embattled PM to resign on the spot for allegedly misleading MPs over Downing Street parties, telling him the “public have made up their minds” and “he’s not fit for the job”.

And it was the subject of jobs that produced what was arguably Johnson’s most eye-catching retort.

At one point the PM told the House:

“The problem with Labour today… He is a lawyer, not a leader!”.

The response was was met with a chorus of cheers from his Conservative colleagues — some of whom it should be noted are lawyers themselves.

The rather catchy line was a reference to Starmer’s career as a barrister at famed human rights set Doughty Street Chambers. The Labour leader, who graduated with a first class law degree from Leeds University and obtained a Bachelor of Civil Laws (BCL) from Oxford University, also lead the Crown Prosecution Service and held the role of director of public prosecutions between 2008 and 2013.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, the PM’s pop at Starmer’s legal career didn’t go down well with lawyers on Twitter.

Former human rights barrister turned Labour MP Emily Thornberry was quick to list notable lawyer leaders including Barack Obama, Tony Blair, Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and err… ex-Conservative PM Margaret Thatcher.

Meanwhile, employment barrister Dan Barnett tweeted: “He’s a lawyer, not a leader… Are they mutually exclusive?”.

“As a lawyer, if I say something even potentially misleading, I am required to immediately apologise and correct the record,” wrote The Secret Barrister. “If I say something intentionally misleading, it is serious professional misconduct, for which I could lose my livelihood. I see why this is alien to him.”

Elsewhere, Joanna Cherry QC, SNP MP for Edinburgh South West, noted that if she were in Johnson’s shoes, she “wouldn’t be slagging off lawyers…”

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17 Comments

anon

I swear, lawyers (especially barristers) are the most unbelievably defensive and pompous bunch.

Did any normal solicitor or barrister actually care what Boris said at all? I doubt it.

(50)(34)

Anon

Not very deferential to Mrs. Thatcher, are we Boris?

(18)(1)

Miki

Say that to Raab…

(4)(0)

Hackaforte

If memory serves, I think Oliver Cromwell studied at Lincoln’s Inn, though never practiced. Owain Glyndwr too, though nobody seems certain as to which one.

(11)(1)

Paul

Boris is a joke of a man and not one to be talking about leadership. He is the worst prime minister since Thatcher.

(73)(16)

Anon

It’s interesting lots of lawyers become political leaders, particularly in America (Clinton, Obama, Biden, Blair over here) so Johnson’s seems a bit fatuous in politics.

But not many lawyers become business leaders outside law firms despite most lawyers working for corporate clients. The jump from GC to CEO is rare, whereas CFO to CEO is extremely common.

(32)(1)

Anon

Boris isn’t a leader, he’s a populist bell.

(35)(5)

Anon

Can be; but CEOs, entrepreneurs and military folk make far better.

(4)(3)

Anon

What makes Boris qualified to be a leader?

(17)(4)

Anon

This is one of the problems with lawyers – fixated on qualifications

(7)(13)

Anon

What else shall we focus on – bluster?

(15)(1)

Anonymous

He is a journalist not a leader

(4)(1)

Anon

To paraphrase Blair in “A Journey” – lawyers can be leaders provided they get out of law early enough, before they become too much of a lawyer.

(12)(1)

Anonymous

The buffoon hid in a fridge and still believes he is leadership material! Right-ho, Boris

(7)(1)

Anonymous

*laughs in 179 majority*

(0)(0)

NotWokeallCoke

Lawyers as leaders? Lawyers lack spines especially barristers. They’re professional bs’s. Never in a million years would I trust one. The Lack of diversity in the profession is a joke, and at the Bar is appalling. Defenders of human rights? Upholders of the status quo! No thanks. BJ any day. At least you know where he stands. No fake woke bs for us thanks.

(2)(3)

Dr Doom

Whereas of course a blonde-haired gorilla doing the verbal equivalent of flinging poo everywhere is doing a much better job…

(0)(0)

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