Brexiteers on the front foot

The country is slipping into a dangerous mindset that the only alternatives are a No Deal Brexit or Mrs May’s deal with a Johnson cosmetic tweet.

The hard-line Brexiteers now dominate the Cabinet, the parliamentary Conservative Party and the membership in the country. In the Tory shires, there is hardly a tissue paper between Tory leavers and Brexit Party members. They move between the two organisations with ease. Why aren’t Tories who join Farage’s mob not banned for 5 years from re-entry? The answer is that since David Cameron’s reckless referendum promise the Conservatives have been either terrified or thrilled by Farage’s anti-EU ranting.

One has to concede that this has led to a turbocharging of the message that we must leave the EU with a big bang whatever the price. Visions of a Britain as it used to be, or a world dying to do trade deals with us are proclaimed with conviction. And now with Johnson as Prime Minister, we have a man who can combine bluster, optimism and humour in a dangerously seductive way. One of the most depressing spectacles is solid working-class northerners buying this rubbish. They want to spurn the EU which delivered regional structural funding to deprived communities and believe the promises Johnson is making to the Northern Powerhouse in order to win a General Election.

Whispering Remainers

Only the Lib Dems and SNP are prepared to remind people that there is still an opportunity for the UK to remain in the EU. Only those two parties speak with conviction to spread the message that this country’s best interests are in remaining in the EU, exercising our influence between France and Germany to bring badly needed modernisation and democratisation to the institutions based in Brussels.

But the SNP and Lib Dems lack the heft to turn this around. Tory Remainers are marginalised. Oliver Letwin now seems daunted by the task of wrestling control of the machinery of government to introduce a Second Referendum Bill. Labour Remainers have edged their leadership into a sort of Remain position but their heart isn’t in it and neither are the party’s paymasters in Unite the Union.

Cabinet fever

You only have to list the names of sacked/resigned Cabinet ministers to see how Johnson has gutted the government of one nation Tories who believed that our best interests were served either by staying in the EU or at worst staying very close. Philip Hammond was a solid Chancellor and Greg Clarke was an excellent Business Secretary. The dismissal of Penny Mordaunt as Defence Secretary was utterly vindictive. She was a Royal Naval reservist, represented Portsmouth and supported Brexit. Her only crime was to back Johnson’s rival, Jeremy Hunt. There are suggestions the Scottish Tory Party might split away because Johnson’s image is so toxic north of the border. His sacking of Scottish Secretary David Mundell and the appointment of an English MP as a Scottish Minister won’t have helped.