You wouldn’t think so to look at it today, but the Conservative Party is the most successful political organisation on the planet.
The Tories have been the dominant political force in British politics over the course of three centuries. Founded in the 1830’s, they have been adept at spotting social change, evolving in a pragmatic way, introducing policies that may not necessarily meet the core values of what the party was set up for, but recognising that to retain, or on a few occasions, regain power, they needed to compromise with the electorate.
It has been helped historically by opposition parties who have often not heeded the evidence of voters changing views and aspirations. But, today, many of the Tory Party’s leading lights have lost the plot – all over the issue that has plagued its organisation for almost fifty years now – the European Union.
Irony of ironies, of course, is that the fateful referendum that was rushed into by David Cameron two years ago was seen as the ‘magic bullet’ to end the internal squabbling that had put paid, in one way or another, to the careers of several Conservative Leaders.
Now, barring a miracle, the EU conundrum will bring the curtain down on Theresa May, as her announced negotiated deal is being pummeled by Leavers and Remainers in equal measure.
What happens next in the Westminster village, which seems more remote and out-of-touch with those it represents than as ever before, is anyone’s guess.
However, what is clear is that the once electoral winning machine that is the Tory Party has forgotten the mantra that ‘power is everything’ and has become so obsessed with a single issue that it may not only kill its existing leader but kill itself in the process.
It is hard to imagine how hardline Remainers, among them Anna Soubry, Ken Clarke, Nicky Morgan and Dominic Grieve, could stay in a parliamentary grouping led by, for example, David Davies.
Equally, the Tory Party membership and the European reform Group (Rees Mogg, Johnson, Redwood et al), will only be satisfied with an individual taking the keys to Number 10 who shares their unnatural, inexplicable hatred of all things Europe.
When the Brexit journey began, many believed it would end in tears. Few thought it would end the Conservative Party. But, the reality now is, it could.