Unknown Tory Steals the Show From Boris Johnson

(Bloomberg) -- Geoffrey Cox used to be one of the highest-paid members of Parliament because he was so in demand as a barrister. Now we know why.

Prime Minister Theresa May has faced pressure all week at the Conservative Party conference to make a speech more entertaining than her rival Boris Johnson. But rather than try to match him, she found an answer in Cox -- her newly appointed attorney general.

Speaking without notes as the warm-up act for May, the 58-year-old strode around stage, booming his defense of her Brexit plan and sounding more like Ian McKellen’s Gandalf from Lord of the Rings than a member of Parliament. Even a looming compromise sounded more palatable to the Tory faithful when Cox quoted The Rolling Stones: “You can’t always get what you want.”

In Cox, May found an intelligent orator who, like Johnson, campaigned to leave the EU, and also like Johnson, can bring an audience to their feet. But unlike the former foreign secretary, Cox is loyal to the prime minister. Before Wednesday, he was a relative unknown in the party; that’s surely changed now.

“Methinks I see in my mind a noble and puissant nation rousing herself like a strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible locks,” said Cox, shifting to 17th-century poet John Milton to finish. “Methinks I see her as an eagle mewing her mighty youth and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full midday beam.”

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