LIVE at 17:59
    • Latest Tweets:

Friday 5 July 2019

The Conservative Party leadership contest has finally reached that stage where such is the inevitability of Boris Johnson’s accession, all eyes are on the future.

Jeremy Hunt’s commitment to repealing the fox hunting ban offered a flash of a contest between two actual conservatives – that is if we choose to ignore Hunt’s Remainer roots – but he took it back within 24 hours, which made him not only less conservative, but even more feckless. This is a man after all, who wanted a second referendum and later compared the EU to Nazi Tyranny, slamming Brussels for “treating us like dirt”.

Though commendable, those later comments weren’t sincere, Hunt voted Remain. Copying Nigel Farage’s style and delivery for one lousy op-ed doesn’t make you Nigel Farage.

And so it is that Boris thankfully rolls forward to victory. Ballot papers are now out. The Telegraph’s editorial this morning appeals to Tory Party Members to put a tick next to is name:

“Mr Johnson grasps that Britain put its red lines in the wrong place, that the essential issue is sovereignty, and that unless the EU thinks that Britain is willing to walk away, it won’t renegotiate a Withdrawal Agreement that is totally unacceptable to a democrat…

“…He deserves a chance to realise an ambition he has spent his entire career fighting for – liberating Britain from the European Union and restoring its faith in itself.”

Boris is pre-ordained. The question is now whether he can steer Britain out of the EU, without a deal if it comes to it.  

Politics Home have questioned Remainer Tory MPs on whether they would try and bring down a new Boris government if No Deal beckoned. Of the many backbenchers questioned, four refused to rule out voting against the government in a no confidence motion. “Never say never”, says one of them, a former frontbencher.

Infamous Remainiac, Antoinette Sandbach is onboard: “I would not like to vote against my government in a vote of no confidence. I would probably try and support any other mechanism for making sure that a no deal didn’t happen.”

Other members of the One Nation Group of Remainers rule it out, although some are more equivocal than others. David Gauke, who narrowly missed out on deselection late last month, is naturally at the softer end: “It seems to me supporting a no-confidence motion leads to a Corbyn government.”

No doubt Gauke is more concerned of the Tories building an alliance with the Brexit Party (see Steve Baker quote below, see Times) at the ensuing general election.

A Labour MP astutely points out that these Tory Remainers are not “natural rebels” but “paper tigers”. Only the likes of Dominic Grieve, who are independently wealthy with a career outside of politics, can afford to make mortal enemies in the Conservative Party.

That unavoidable reality completely undoes Philip Hammond’s typically morose warning on a BBC podcast today:

“The House Commons has been clear that it does not support a no-deal exit.

“Let me quote the speaker, who has said if the Commons is determined to do something, it will find a way.

“I am quite confident it will find a way — and indeed should be able to find a way, because this is a parliamentary democracy, and it would be frankly rather shocking if the House of Commons, the elected representatives of the people, could be simply sidelined.”

Nice try Hammond, but you need a will to find a way, and these career politicians just don’t have it.

In any case, Hammond will soon be gone, and the No Deal rhetoric will switch to a much more optimistic WTO-based future. Step forward Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay who tells the Daily Express:

“A no deal Brexit is under-priced. The risk of a no deal is higher than many particularly in the business community realise and that is why it is important that we prepare.”

“We will be ready. We’re working hard in Government to ensure we are ready. A new prime minister will turbo-charge those plans and I look forward to supporting them.

That’s more like it.