It’s Bojo vs Jojo – so will Johnson Jr come out in front of his brother Boris?

Jo may lack his brother’s flamboyant streak – but as David Cameron brings him to the top table, some say he’s the one to watch

Some people say that the really smart member of the Johnson family is the quiet one, Jo Johnson, MP for Orpington – and we are about to find out a lot more about him. Jo has just been promoted to perform for David Cameron the role that David Miliband used to fulfil for Tony Blair, running the Downing Street Policy Unit. It is expected that his formidable intelligence will be applied to the task of helping to put together a manifesto on which to fight the 2015 election.

The Johnson brothers are clever, competitive and very different. Boris, the older brother, is a show-off and a risk-taker. He had to carve out his own path by running to be Mayor of London because he was held back as an MP by two successive Tory leaders, Michael Howard and David Cameron, neither of whom trusted him, or believed he was capable of being a team player. Howard sacked him from the opposition front bench because of his chaotic sex life. Cameron refused to let him into the Shadow Cabinet.

Jo, by contrast, is a team player, who does not draw unnecessary attention to himself, though there is plenty that he could boast about, starting with the fact that he emerged from Oxford University with a better degree than his older brother – a double first, compared with Boris’s 2:1. He is the sort of MP a party leader likes to have around.

Though publicly supportive of his brother, it was notable that – unlike their sister Rachel – he was not interviewed in last month’s BBC documentary about the life and times of Boris. The 350-page biography of Boris, by Andrew Gimson, does not even list Jo in the index. This quiet refusal to be part of his brother’s life story may frustrate journalists, but it is wise precaution. Being someone’s brother is not necessarily a great advantage in politics, as David Miliband could attest.

A study of Jo Johnson’s website also reveals a very cautious, disciplined politician. The site is replete with small, worthy news items about his constituency and what its local MP is doing for local people. It tells you that Jo Johnson bought his Christmas turkey from a local butcher. An item headed “Jo praises Pratts Bottom scarecrows” reveals that he visited the Pratts Bottom village fete, judged the competition in which children dressed as scarecrows, and stocked up on the marmalade made by a local resident.

When he pronounces on national issues, he is cautious, pragmatic, and in the Tory mainstream. He believes in low taxes and an export-led economic recovery.

His quiet demeanour brought him relatively late into Parliament at the 2010 election. He is aged 41, and was a journalist, who latterly edited the Lex column in the Financial Times. Once in the Commons, he rose through the ranks relatively swiftly, becoming a junior whip last September.

His latest promotion prompted a few sarcastic remarks about David Cameron’s apparent addiction to surrounding himself with old Etonians, preferably old Etonians who have been through Oxford University and the Bullingdon Club. However, others were generous in their reactions. The Labour MP, Ben Bradshaw commented:  “I have long said Jo is the Johnson to watch – extremely bright, able and nice.”

His father, Stanley Johnson, said: “I have four sons, and it would be totally invidious for me to express an opinion as to who is the brightest. Of course Jo is absolutely superb. Someone who got a first in mods and a first in finals and was head of the Lex column is first class. Forget about the Bullingdon stuff. This is very good news. I’m jolly pleased. Let’s hope it helps the Tories win the next election.

“I find, as I get older, that every time I open a newspaper I’m either reading articles about my children, or by my children, or sometimes about my children and by my children. Soon the moment will come for someone to say, ‘Enough Johnson – Ed’.”

Perhaps, but that time has not come yet. For the next years, we are going to hear a lot about the Johnson family, and not only about the older brother.

The clan: A family of high achievers

Boris may be the most recognisable of Stanley Johnson and Charlotte Wahl’s four children, but all members of the brood have used their education to forge successful careers.

Rachel dragged ‘The Lady’ into the 21st century on becoming its editor in 2009, while Jo and Boris both started in journalism before entering politics.

All benefited, they claim, from Stanley’s hands-off parenting which encouraged the children to be self-sufficient. Rachel and Boris crossed Europe by themselves when they were still at primary school age.

Leo, the youngest sibling, graduated from Oxford before establishing a consultancy business. Five years later, the company was sold to PwC, where Leo is now a partner on the climate change team.

Still, he can’t shake off the “Boris’s brother” tag. On his after-dinner speaker profile, he is advertised as having “the same flair for language” as the London Mayor.

Jo Johnson, 41

Head of David Cameron’s Policy Unit

Scandal factor Largely uncontroversial, save for the fact he was a member of the Bullingdon Club.

Loyalty Always on-message, close  to George Osborne.

Books Co-wrote the rather dry-looking ‘Reconnecting Britain and India: Ideas for an Enhanced Partnership’.

Personality “Excruciatingly serious” according  to biographer Sonia Purnell, but clever.

Boris Johnson, 48

Mayor of London

Scandal factor Sacked from the front bench after lying about his affair with Petronella Wyatt, and forced to apologise to the people of Liverpool after an editorial in ‘The Spectator’ accused the city of “wallowing” in its “victim status”.

Loyalty  Not above sly digs at No 10.

Books Has written several well-reviewed, non-fiction volumes, including ‘Johnson’s Life of London’ and ‘The Dream of Rome’.

Personality Affable and a good public speaker.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...