Brexit may destroy the Conservative Party

Brexit chaos continues to engulf Westminster. David Davis and Boris Johnson have resigned, along with a number of minor Conservative figures. The long awaited Brexiteer rebellion may finally have begun. And it could be fatal for the Tory Party.

It’s hard to underestimate the trouble the Conservative Party is in right now. In the abnormal political atmosphere, two senior cabinet ministers jumping ship is not enough to trigger a leadership challenge. But this should not re-assure Theresa May or her allies. Two facts stand out: firstly, Davis represents the hard Brexit arm of the party; his resignation is a sign that May is losing the argument with that section of her party. Secondly, Boris Johnson resigned for purely political purposes. If Johnson ever had principles, he long abandoned them in favour of personal ambition. If Davis was out, Johnson had to be out, too. How else could he position himself as an alternative prime minister?

The Conservative Party is more divided than ever. The Chequers summit was supposed to produce unity. Instead, it has caused a schism in the governing party. Divisions that were previously like a tug of war between factions have grown into a gaping chasms between former Leavers and former Remainers. May’s cabinet is now almost entirely made up of ex-Remainer – the long-held nightmare of hard line Brexiteers.

May herself must be hunkered down in No.10. Her performance in the House of Commons on Monday was weak and strained. As usual, she batted away awkward questions. But there was something different in the prime minister’s behaviour yesterday, and it was not triumph at purging her enemies. When Conservative Sir Peter Bone claimed that his local activists felt betrayed by the Chequers agreement, his fellow Tories tried to shout him down. Nonetheless, the accusation stuck and May’s response was both inadequate and quietly dismissive of the grassroots Bone was discussing. This is not the behaviour of a leader comfortable in her own authority.

Theresa May tuition fees speech

This crisis is the Brexit fantasy coming home to roost. David Davis was one of the chief ideologues of a win-win Brexit. He and Boris Johnson consistently pushed the idea that Brexit would be a huge success with no downsides. In an interview following his resignation, Davis chided the EU leaders as though they were petulant children. The depth of the Brexit delusion is finally catching up with the Tories. Brexit means compromise and Brexit means pain. Davis and Johnson couldn’t accept that, and neither will Conservative grassroots who bought into the fantasy.

Theresa May has never been weaker and rumours of a leadership challenge are swirling. However, a new leader would make no difference. The economic, political and legal realities of leaving the EU remain the same regardless of who leads the Conservative Party. If a Brexiteer ideologue like Davis or Johnson becomes prime minister, it becomes far more likely that Britain will crash out of the EU in March 2019 with no deal. That will split the Tories and split the country. A hard line Brexit leader will not be able to unite the Conservatives any more than May has been able to. And if May survives, or a new leader pursues a soft Brexit, the Brexit fringe will continue to fight tooth and nail against the leadership. It will be Tory civil war without end.

May has already warned her MPs about the dangers of handing power to Jeremy Corbyn. The very real threat of a Labour victory in any snap election hasn’t managed to unite the Conservative Party behind their leader or any coherent Brexit plan. The Brexit-supporting press is sounding warnings that Brexit is being ‘stolen’ and democracy ‘ignored’. It is difficult to see how any Conservative leader can heal the divisions in the party without delivering a successful Brexit that pleases everyone. Since it’s now clear Brexit cannot be successful, and that a Brexit that protects the British economy from disaster can’t please the hard liners, the Tories are in a impossible position.

Theresa May should call a general election and let the people judge her handling of Brexit negotiations. If it is the will of the people that she should continue leading the country, so be it. But even if the Tories win a snap election, the divisions will remain. It’s difficult to see how the Conservative Party can survive Brexit without flying apart at the seams.

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3 Responses

  1. richard stevens

    What nonsense! What would calling a general election with May-T at the helm? She would only ‘win’ because Corbyn’s not wanted….her Brexit proposal still is disliked. Furthermore why is this publication jumping on the ‘Brexit will be a disaster’ bandwagon? Brexit was always about sovereignty and democracy which cannot be traded for economic reward. Shame on you.

  2. Pete Powell

    I’m unsure if Boris is stupid or if it’s a clown act to get away with telling Tory lies, as on the same show everybody made a fuss because he said Germany never used chemical weapons in wars in his bid to arm extremists in Syria against Assad, like how the whistle blower David Shayler told how Tories were funding Al Qaeda against Gaddafi, he said an even bigger lie on the same TV show that the media didn’t care about, because he said there wasn’t a vote on the 2nd war against Iraq, when more Tories voted yes to it than other Parties. He either doesn’t know what the party he belongs to does, or it’s an experiment to see if all most people really remember about politics is last Tory propaganda headline they read.
    Is all the media in with making up lies for Tories, or is the only point in the media to dumb down society by trying to get people to care about talentless celebs?
    Are we seriously going to be led out of the EU by that idiot, or is it a plan by his Eton and Bullingdon Club friends to not have the EU in the way of the upper classes and corporations mistreating most British people? Such as not having EU saying genetically modified ingredients should be labelled and workers should have enough breaks

  3. Pete Powell

    There are going to be a lot of people crying on Question Time because journalists either don’t want people to know or are too stupid to warn them of consequences of Brexit. It’s going to be worst then when Tories made millions unemployed after using police as their personal army against people wanting to keep their jobs, then blaming them for being unemployed. Making rest of Europe hate us because EU was preventing upper classes, corporations and bankers mistreating many people, such as EU saying workers should have enough breaks and genetically modified ingredients should be labelled. They want us to be like USA where more junk goes into food people don’t know about. David Shayler told how Tories went along with USA funding extremists against Gaddafi in Libya, at a time more old people were dying of the cold than ever before after they stole and sold off public owned energy.
    Nigel Lawson closely linked our economy with USA in 80s, relying on many being in debt, and then economy crashed by early 90s, which gave them excuse to make anybody suffer who wasn’t any use at being a slave for upper classes or corporations, such as making 18 year old in bedsit pay same poll tax as Lord in a manor, VAT increases, public service cuts, while they gave the rich tax cuts. Nigel Lawson who caused that was recommending us leaving the EU.
    The economic system he left us with crashes every few years since, and society still hasn’t recovered form those days. Rest of north and west Europe have jobs making cars, boats, and free or cheap university education. Also less differences between rich and poor

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