Boris Johnson should be given no time to settle into office. Remain forces need to get their act together, but I fear they won’t. A leaver asked me the other day what is the strategy of those determined to stop Brexit? It’s a good question.
Jeremy Corbyn’s heart isn’t in it. It’s going to take some courage by Tory rebels to vote against a Prime Minister just endorsed decisively by Conservative Party members. Crucially I’ve a feeling the European Union want to give the new PM a small tweak that Johnson can sell to the European Research Group who are looking for a ladder to climb down. The Rees-Mogg mob got locked into a rather personal struggle with Theresa May. If Johnson can get some fudge on the back stop, the ERG will bite his hand off. The ERG will never get a better Prime Minister for their policy of an extreme break from the EU. They are dying to find a way to back him.
Johnson comes into office amid a blizzard of resignations from Tory ministers who wanted an orderly withdrawal from the EU. They respected the former reputation of the conservatives as the party of business. Now they stand for risking destabilising the country because of a pathological obsession about Europe. But how far will former Chancellor Phil Hammond and other rebels against no deal go. There is no sign of a plan to wrestle the parliamentary agenda away from the new government, still less the bill to remove the October 31st deadline from the statute book.
What we are likely to see from Remainers is August agonising whilst Johnson gets a poll boost that usually accompanies a new leader. We also can’t dismiss the effect the call to optimism will have on people, even though it is rooted in nothing. Also look out for actions to loosen the austerity restraints on public spending and action on elderly care. This will be an attempt to ensure that Johnson is not just defined by Brexit.
Early Welsh test for Johnson
Tories in Brecon and Radnor have a big choice to make next week. Do they vote for a candidate who was recalled from parliament after an expenses scandal? The need to avoid the new Prime Minister failing his first electoral test is a powerful incentive. Do they abstain because they can’t support their tainted candidate? Or do they vote for the Brexit Party, not trusting even Boris Johnson to get Britain out of the EU.
The Lib Dems are fighting hard to win back a seat they have frequently held in the past. They will be hoping for a bounce from their new leader Jo Swinson. A Lib Dem victory would reduce the Tory/DUP majority to two and hopefully will encourage all those who want to stop Brexit to actually do something about it.
General Election choice clearer
Presuming Jeremy Corbyn is not replaced by someone like Kier Starmer, the choice at the General Election has clarified this week with two leadership elections.
We will have Boris Johnson all optimism and very little substance. Jeremy Corbyn weighed down by his Marxist inner circle and an inability to deal with anti-Semitism. Or a bright young woman, Jo Swinson, who has served in government and would offer a real change for this country. She faces a huge challenge with the current electoral system, and she is rightly wary of coalitions with the old parties. We will see how she gets on.