Former UKIP donor Arron Banks has thrown the weight of Leave.eu behind the Tory Party. The Brexit campaign group is calling on its one million social media followers to join the Conservatives.
The thinking goes that the Tories are currently a bunch of Remainers and a shot of Brexiteer blood at the grassroots will force the party into doing the right thing – replacing Mrs May with a pro-Brexit PM.
There is certainly precious little chance of leaving the EU in any meaningful sense while our pro-Remain UK government is lead by a Remainer. In fact things look so bleak for Brexit that I had the same idea myself several months ago.
It is tempting to look at how Momentum and Corbyn have seized control of the Labour Party from within and wonder if the same might be possible with the Tories. Our two-party system is corrupt, offering a choice between hard Left Labour and Labour-lite Tories, so why not use it to our advantage? Use entryists to take over one of the parties and turn it into a proper right-of-centre, conservative, pro-Brexit outfit that will win landslides.
The problem with this plan is that the Tories are not Labour. They have different leadership rules and party structure. You may as well suggest that we stay in the EU and reform it from within. The Conservatives took us in to the EU without asking, lied to keep us in, took us further in every chance they got, and only very reluctantly gave us a vote in 2016 thanks to pressure from UKIP.
Even then they only held the referendum because they were convinced Remain would win, and ran the biggest propaganda campaign of fear and lies in human history. From the Conservative Prime Minister and Chancellor down, they disgraced themselves and their offices with what they knew to be lies about lost jobs, immediate recession and even World War 3, so desperate were they to keep the UK shackled to the EU. This is because the Conservative Party is institutionally un-conservative. It subscribes to every ‘liberal’, right-on, leftist orthodoxy going, including that the UK simply isn’t good enough to make its way in the world.
What do metropolitan ‘liberals’ like Theresa May, Philip Hammond, Brandon Lewis, Cameron, Osborne or almost anyone at the top of the Party for the past 20 years have in common with grassroots members in the shires? They find the views of their membership to be beyond the pale and a bit embarrassing. They are all more comfortable with Ed Miliband or Chukka Umunna than at a constituency meeting.
The Tory grassroots are already largely Eurosceptic and the Tory leadership quite happily ride roughshod over them. The Tory leadership has become so detached from reality that they not only ignore their grassroots, but have treated them with barely concealed contempt for many years.
What difference will a few thousand Brexiteers make by joining the Conservatives, other than to top up party funds which will be spent on Remain propaganda? The Conservatives have had a Eurosceptic membership and Eurosceptic MPs for decades. They achieved absolutely nothing. The most persuasive argument is that by joining you will get a vote in what seems to be an inevitable leadership challenge to replace Theresa re-May-ner. This is far from certain.
Despite the frequent characterisation of Mrs May as ‘weak’, she is anything but. She only appears weak in the light of the Brexit negotiations if you assume that she wants to leave the EU and is being bullied into Remaining by Michel Barnier and co. Mrs May is getting exactly what she wants out of the EU negotiations, she has clung on through eight years as an execrable Home Secretary and Prime Minister, and is quite capable of clinging on until the job she was appointed by the Tories to do, of keeping us in the EU, is done.
The vast majority of Tory MPs are Remainers and support her every action. The question is, do these fanatically Remain Tory MPs want to Remain in the EU more than they want to win the next General Election. I honestly believe that a good number of them have Brexit derangement syndrome to such an extent that they will keep the UK in the EU at any cost, including a Corbyn government. They will quite happily go to the country with a fake Brexit and dare us to vote for the only alternative – that terrorist appeasing racist socialist Corbyn.
Let’s suppose that the Tory Party does find a backbone and we have a leadership challenge. It is still by no means certain that Tory Party members will get a vote. Given the stakes, we will likely see a repeat of the last Tory leadership ‘election’, where any Brexiteer candidates were attacked, smeared and stabbed in the back until there was one Remainer standing. The membership didn’t get to vote on Theresa May and it’s entirely likely this could happen again, or that two Remain candidates are presented to the membership. Perhaps a ‘soft’ Remainer (Gove) and a ‘hard’ Remainer (almost anyone else), but Remainer all the same.
And even if May goes and if there is an election and if that goes to the membership and if there is a pro-Brexit candidate on the ballot and if they win, what chance to you think a Boris Johnson or Rees-Mogg will have when the entire party machine is dead set against them? On day one they will have dozens of Tory MPs threatening them. They might achieve no more than to appease Brexiteer anger while delivering a Brexit that still in some way shape or form keeps us in the EU. For many Tories their loyalty is EU first, then career, party and country last. Even for the ‘Brexiteer’ MPs, I suspect party and career will still come before country.
I resigned from UKIP last year in the wake of the Henry Bolton leadership election, but rejoined UKIP a couple of weeks ago. I did so in no small part because this seemed the only way to send Theresa May and the Conservatives a clear signal that there will be consequences for betraying Brexit.
Why should Theresa May worry about delivering a Remain in all but name ‘Brexit’ when she’s on 40% in the polls thanks to Comrade Corbyn, those pesky Kippers who caused all this trouble in the first place are on 3%, and when Tory membership is going through the roof?
Only a resurgent UKIP will give them pause for thought. A UKIP with rising membership, a UKIP whose vote share is creeping up one point at a time with every poll that is released. Should UKIP break 10% in the polls in the coming weeks, which is not impossible, you can be sure Mrs May will notice. That is what made Cameron give the referendum in the first place, it’s the only thing that might keep the Conservatives honest now.