When our servicemen and women returned from six years of a dreadful series of wars in 1945 they voted for the hope and aspiration of Attlee’s Labour Party in the election held in July (over two weeks) to the huge shock and surprise of Winston Churchill, our war time hero. Attlee promised state schooling from 5-15, a NHS service for all, the nationalisation of our core infrastructure and more. Even so, by 1951, he too had been turfed out. Prime minister’s lose elections because the voters have had enough; in this case, and it may sound familiar, because of the austerity and hardships families faced having seemingly ‘won the war’.
Brexit is like a war; a civil war. It has being going on more seriously since 2012 when David Cameron foolishly allowed a binding not an indicative referendum vote. He busked the referendum on the Scottish independence in 2014 winning the ‘No’ vote by 55.3% to 44.7%. He thought he could busk the EU referendum which was hard to believe since he came back from his discussions with President Tusk et al with no more than Chamberlain had in 1938: though with pieces of paper all pretty pointless.
By the time you read this we shall have had our third Prime Minister in four years. And if my sense is correct, another one will be due in mid-November. Boris is fundamentally lazy. He rarely read his boxes as a Secretary of State and had no overriding vision for the office. His pieces to camera were rushed and unprepared. Yet his Teflon touch has never left him. Jeremy Hunt has lucked out. The nation would have liked to have seen Boris against Rory Stewart; the Tory party would have preferred a Boris-Gove play off. As it is some sly switching Tory MPs allowed Hunt narrowly through.
We know little about Jeremy Hunt. He stood up to Murdoch when he was Secretary of State at DCMS and to the surprise of many bested him. It is much harder to remember what he did to modernise our digital infrastructure or give greater independence to the Science Museum. At the NHS he withstood the pressure of the Junior Doctors whilst the service itself worsened largely because of Andrew Lansley’s (his predecessor) shocking reforms. It is too early to judge him at the FCO but he stood back from involving himself in saying or doing anything meaningful in the Hong Kong marches this past month and does not appear to understand that Brexit means we will ultimately lose our veto at the Security Council to India or Brazil.
It does not really matter. What matters if you are the new PM is what happens if the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election on 1st August goes to the Lib Dem’s (it had been Tory held). If it does then the new PM will have, even with the DUP, no overall majority (I have discounted the seven Sinn Fein MPs) in the House of Commons. The notion therefore that there can be a Brexit by 31st October 2019 is not possible unless the new PM prorogues Parliament claiming that a new Queen’s Speech would give him the power. It will not.
There are then two further options. The Leader of the Labour Party, whoever that is, could call a vote of no confidence which if the DUP MPs sat on their collective hands might bring the new PM down and lead to a general election. Fearing this the new PM might call it anyway. Either way as Hunt has indicated Brexit would have to be delayed. A General Election would create an entirely new party called ‘Brexit’ with it winning seats largely off the Tories; if polls are to believed the Lib Dems might win as many as a hundred seats but still, because of the ancient way we vote, Labour would be the biggest party.
Spotting this Nigel Farage has said they could do a deal with the Tories. He would likely be made SoS for Europe. But what if a coalition of these two parties did not bring them a majority in Parliament? In this instance, a second referendum would finally come into play.
Goodness what a bloody mess.