I know all about switching to insurgent Eurosceptic parties. Almost exactly five years ago to the day, I left the Conservative Party – and a safe 12,000 majority seat in Parliament – to stand for UKIP in a by-election.
If your overarching objective is to get Britain out of the EU, switching to UKIP made sense in 2014. It was a great way of applying pressure on David Cameron’s Conservatives to ensure we had a referendum. From a personal point of view, in terms of future leverage, it was a good way of helping ensure that the right kind of people ran our campaign when the referendum came.
Again, if getting us out of the EU is your goal, backing the Brexit Party made sense as a way of piling pressure on Theresa May when she was Prime Minister. The strong showing of the Brexit Party in recent polls encouraged Conservative MPs to move against Theresa May and her ridiculous Brexit-in-name-only deal. It’s worth recalling that as late as last December, two out of every three Tory MPs backed May in a confidence vote.
Tactics should serve strategy. If the strategy of getting us out the EU is constant, tactics need to change to suit circumstances. The circumstances have change dramatically in the past three weeks.
Instead of looking for ways of applying pressure on the Tory party, anyone interested in achieving Brexit should look to see how they can support it.
“But hold on a second” I hear you say “It’s the same treacherous Tory party in Westminster. Precisely the same muppets that gave us May are still in the Commons. How can we trust them?”
I understand all that. There’s a reason I left the Tory party. There still sits in the House of Commons an enormous, self-indulgent blob of Tory MPs capable of little more than dithering, drifting and defaulting to the Establishment opinion about pretty much everything – not just our EU membership.
The temptation to give them the most almighty kick in the ballot box is strong. Far, far stronger than most sitting Tory MPs appreciate. If Tory MPs had more self-awareness – or could read focus group data objectively – they might appreciate that every time one of them takes to the airwaves to tell us that a vote for the Brexit Party could lead to a Corbyn government, they are almost inviting voters to try to take them down.
But this isn’t about them. We are leaving the EU almost despite, rather than because of the Conservative parliamentary party. They might still be there, but the government has changed dramatically within the past two weeks.
Boris Johnson led the Vote Leave campaign. There are few people more committed to delivering what we voted for. When Theresa May started to make such a mess of Brexit negotiations, he quit the Cabinet. In doing so, he was at the time believed by many to be giving up any chance of holding high office again.
Since becoming Prime Minister, Boris has installed around him people who are serious about Brexit. Out have gone obsequious ministers, appointed because they toadied up to Mrs May. In have come officials that were intimately involved in Vote Leave, and who appreciate what it was the 17.4 million people voted for.
This isn’t just another post-war administration, full of mediocrities seeking some rationale to slake their sense of self-importance. This is a government with a clear mission; to get Britain out of the EU at the end of October.
Of course, there will be some Eurosceptics so used to thinking in terms of pressuring the Conservatives that doing so has become its own ends. But if your aim is Brexit, now is not the time to apply pressure, but to offer support.
At last, we Brexiteer have what we have spent these long, often lonely years wanting – a government committed to extricating us from the EU. We are now 13 weeks away from achieving our goal.
The more we do to support Boris as Prime Minister – despite, not because of some of some of his MP colleagues – the less likely it is that the Continuity Remain campaign will be able to derail his government.
Now is the time to back Boris.
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