The May Successor Race has barely started, kicking off with hustings today, and there’s already a huge scandal involving Boris Johnson. Brexit, as far as the MSM are concerned, has sunk below the horizon, as has the EU.
One might think that they have forgotten why this Leadership election has to take place. Given their Remain bias however they obviously recognise the importance of getting the Remain candidate Hunt into No 10 by all and any means. The starting shots for the mud slinging have been fired.
It is noteworthy that the two relatively Leave-leaning online papers (DT and Express) are not going into that much detail about the BoJo scandal (here and paywalled here) whereas the Remain papers (DM and the Times) provide all the salacious details (here and paywalled here). Of course, as any neighbour would do, taping the row and giving the tape not just to the police but to the MSM is totally normal …
This scandal will certainly influence the choice Tory Party members will make. The ‘theme’ of the ‘stop Boris’ campaign inside and outside the Tory Party is that his character is ‘questionable’. It’s worth remembering that the Hunt supporters inside the Tory Party, Ms Rudd first and foremost, are using that argument. They are of course the hard-core Remainers.
Looking at the few Brussels ‘news’ we can predict that a Hunt premiership will be their preference as it promises to be more of the same May disaster, just packaged a bit differently. An interesting little concession by the Taoiseach hasn’t had much impact:
“Mr Varadkar told reporters: “If there is a no-deal Brexit at the end of October, Ireland will be under an obligation to protect the single market. It’s our single market, our economy and our jobs are dependent on it and we’ll have to make sure that Ireland doesn’t become the backdoor to the European single market and we’re going to work with the Commission on mechanisms by which we can do that.The only way that I can see that we can be sure that we avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is through regulatory alignment.” (source)
Ah – so ‘movement’ on the “Backstop” front is possible … even though, in other Brexit news, Mr Tusk and M Juncker reiterated that there will be no re-negotiations, but ‘we can talk’:
“Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker have laid down the gauntlet to Theresa May’s successor as they said the Brexit divorce deal cannot be changed but the terms of the future EU/UK relationship could be amended. Mr Tusk, the President of the European Council, said it remained the EU’s ambition to avoid a ‘disorderly Brexit’ […] However, Mr Tusk said that if Britain softened its negotiating red lines, potentially by seeking a closer pact built on a customs union, then the EU would be open to changing the proposed future relationship between the two sides.” (link)
Of course Brussels would rather see the ‘continuity May’ candidate, Hunt, as her successor, in the not unreasonable hope that he and they can achieve some cosmetic alterations, some soft concessions, to get that WA ‘treaty’ over the line, with all the implications to keep us as Brussels Colony.
As I predicted yesterday, there’s a tiny leak from that EU Summit which makes interesting reading. As always, the important item comes right at the end, and if one were to look only at the headline “Macron urges next PM to show respect” (link, paywalled), one would miss it:
“Europe’s leaders spent just 12 minutes discussing Brexit, with the time mainly taken up by a European Commission report that the EU was better prepared for a no-deal Brexit than Britain was.” (link, paywalled)
This, together with the statement by Sir Mark Sedwill earlier this month about the UK being well prepared, gives the lie to all the latest Project Fear predictions which are already being rolled out by the campaigners for a 2nd referendum (here).
Let’s savour for a moment the leaked remarks of M Macron from the paywalled link above:
“The EU does not care who wins the Conservative leadership race as long as the next prime minister is as “respectful” of other European leaders as Theresa May has been, President Macron said yesterday. The French president’s barbed comments will be seen by many Conservatives as an indictment of Mrs May’s negotiating position and an invitation for a new leader to play rough on Brexit. “All the way through the negotiations she’s been incredibly loyal and respectful, she never stood in the way, we sometimes disagreed but she never took the discussions or Europe hostage. […] I do not know who will come next, and I certainly do not want to interfere but I hope it will be the same sense of respect and seriousness that she had.” (link, paywalled)
Of course M Macron ain’t interfering in that Johnson-Hunt race, of course not! He’s only saying that a PM as ‘respectful’ and ‘loyal’ to the EU would be so much more welcome. After all, keeping us In has financial benefits for France, from Fisheries to the CAP, while a ‘disorderly’ Brexit would be ‘un horreur, n’est-çe pas’.
However, the Remainers and the Hunt supporters ought to think about consequences for the Tory Party and for Remain should Brexit have been denied on Halloween. They may well believe that even a Corbyn government would be no big deal were “PM Hunt” to be forced to call a GE after Halloween because we’re still In. Labour, after all, is being pushed to come out for Remain a 2nd Referendum and Corbyn may well cave in to this demand.
I don’t need to point out again that these are the old Remain Alice-in-Wonderland political attitudes which are found only inside the Westminster Bubble … but there’s a wake-up call for Remainers which they better not disregard.
ConHome has published a rather interesting poll result from YouGov – you really must look at the graph here! It shows that the Tory Party might survive in a GE post-Brexit, under either Hunt or Johnson, with The Brexit Party being squeezed out. However, if there’s no Brexit on Halloween, The Brexit Party will squeeze out the Tories, regardless of who is PM.
At the moment this is just an interesting play with numbers for politics nerds and Party strategists because, as you’ll have noted, this poll looks at a GE early next year.
However, you may also have noticed that this poll shows that the political landscape is changing: there are two blocks now: Remain in yellow and red on the one side, leave in blue and Brexit-Blue on the other. That is the real news.
A week is a long time in politics, but nowadays even a day is long enough for a political upheaval, as the BoJo ‘scandal’ shows. In this Leadership race, anything that can happen will happen. Be prepared for an avalanche of dirty tricks, with the Remainers having the advantage of support from the Remain MSM and ‘anonymous’ sources from Whitehall.
We must and will keep our eyes on the Brexit Ball and must and will work hard so the Remainers don’t get away with it.