(N.B. I wrote this on the 15th July, a week before Boris Johnson was elected as Leader of the Conservative Party with 66.4% of the vote)
I’m going to take a punt and predict that Boris Johnson will become prime minister on the 22 July with at least two thirds of Tory members’ votes.
(If I’m wrong, and Johnson loses, then stop reading now!) What, then, will a Johnson premiership mean for housing?
In the short term, probably very little. He will be pre-occupied in the first few months with Brexit and its aftermath. Perhaps he will also call a snap general election.
But thereafter, what do we know about his track record and his views on housing, and affordable housing in particular?
His published writings offer an insight. In an article last year titled We need to kickstart the housing market by kicking developers who treat buyers like serfs he attacked Persimmon for building shoddy homes and commented on the problems faced by first time buyers:
“This is meant to be Britain, the great homeowning democracy, but we now have lower rates of owner-occupation, for the under-forties, than France and Germany.”
“In the seventies we were building about 300,000 a year…By the time of Tony Blair’s Labourgovernment, that number had fallen to 156,000… the underlying problem is supply.”
The answer, he concluded, was to liberate brownfield and public land, reduce stamp duty, tackle landbanking, and to “…tell Lefties like Sadiq Khan to stop their ideological obsession with quotas for affordable housing on each development”.
So, Johnson is very much on the Policy Exchange wing of Conservatism. He wants to build, build, build, but his priority is on boosting the overall supply of market homes, and thus pushing down prices (he hopes), rather than any focus on traditional social housing.