by John Ward
The last fortnight’s developments have made it more likely than ever that new groupings on the Right and Centre-Left of British politics will be established in the near future. The key players – “all the usual suspects” as Claude Rains might have said – seem to be clearing the decks for change, and we may be about to see the demise of the UK’s Westminster duopoly. But there are forces in Whitehall and elsewhere who are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect.
A few weeks back, I posted a piece (based on two sources) wondering if some kind of deal was being cooked up in Peterborough by Brexiteer Tories to stand aside and let Nigel Farage have a free hand to challenge Labour’s wafer-thin majority there. There was also some evidence of conversations between Farage and Boris Johnson about cooperating in some way once the plot to dislodge Theresa May had finally come to fruition.
The first of the sources stuck mainly to the Peterborough idea and had doubts as to whether the two motor-mouths could ever work together. The second was more assertive about the “fact” that Johnson and Farage had been in communication, and that (if the Labour MP was forced to resign) Tory canvassers would actively help Farage to win the seat.
Since then, the Labour MP has appeared in Court to deny the charge against her; and needless to say, the project was categorically dismissed by Boris and Nige. But the second source came back to me last week to claim that Johnson “now harbours severe doubts as to whether the rebels in the Party have the spine to topple the Prime Minister” and “is serious about the idea of a populist Party involving Farage”.
Something is very clearly going on, but I am beginning to have doubts about the motives involved in some of the leaking. How much of all this is Boris deciding to jump, Boris being pushed or Boris being pushed and then thinking ‘sod it, I might as well jump’ remains anyone’s guess. What I can tell you is that I now have no doubt at all that Nigel Farage is putting together the structure for a new Party; and that I am clear that there is a Number Ten project to isolate Theresa May’s most popular challenger: most of the negative guff about Johnson’s “suicide vest” joke in his latest column is coming from hardline and turncoat Remainers.
Yesterday, however, a small shaft of light was pointed in my direction from Brussels. This was in relation to Stonewall Barnier’s casual remark at some conference jolly that he was now “confident a Brexit deal can be reached in six to eight weeks”. A source in the Commission says this reflects “a real fear here that May will be deposed, that a Brexiteer Cabinet will start to play hardball, and that May is persevering with a Chequers idea nobody wants”. He once again confirmed that, in private, there is an air of gloom in Brussels about getting no deal at all….especially if this moves the divorce fee off the table. Hence the similar intervention of Guy Verhofstadt in saying yesterday that a deal can be done within the timescale.
Interestingly, my source says the EU also “knows” that the much-vaunted Labour breakaway is a question of when not if. I had pretty much assumed that the moment Tony Blair went on National TV to say it wasn’t possible to “win back power in the Labour Party”….but it’s interesting to have the view confirmed from Over There, where I am equally sure a near-infinite amount of slush-fund euros are finding their way via dubious banking sources to the Blair/Campbell HQ.
From here on we face the probability of enormous political confusion in the UK; and yet, at the same time, one point of stunning clarity: the politicalEstablishment is rapidly unravelling. More exactly, it is destroying itself. This is not a situation I had considered until very recently, but it is becoming vary hard of late to deny it.
Consider: the Blairites are going to break off and form some kind of ‘Social Democrats for Brussels’ construct which will (in my view as a psephologist) massacre the Momentum-Corbyn wing’s chances of having any role at all after the next election….assuming Crash2 is put off until the end of next year. However, since 2016, hardcore “no change” Remainers have become increasingly diluted in the electorate…so the “SDB” will have an uphill struggle from Day One.
A completely split Left is one thing, but if the Mayniac persists in her plans to sell Chequers and demonise Johnson, we will also have a split Right with little or no electoral credibility on either Brexit or the broader issues of social injustice thanks to neoliberal monetarist ideology. Indeed, if Johnson and some harder Brexit rebels do join a more nationalist/populist outfit including Nigel Farage (and perhaps even Tommy Robinson), then the Conservative Party will be staring into a non-existent future along with the Labour Party.
To this mosaic minus cement can be added what’s left of UKIP, and (more importantly) the continued existence of a powerful SNP that seems keen to swap Westminster for Brussels, and a revitalised Scottish Tory Party which pretty much doesn’t.
Could any of this result in new alliances across existing Parties? So far, the Blairites have ruled out any role for the Liberal Democrats in its new Party. The SDB might, on the other hand, see some value in an arrangement with the SNP, given its high number of seats based on relatively few votes. I think it unlikely that the Scottish Nationalists will return any warmth: there is too much danger for them as a Party in being seen to do deals with Sassenach Unionists.
On the whole, one can envisage little more than a splintering of political power. But a great deal is going to change (ie, go horribly wrong) on several fronts before we get around to another election. “Bonker Boris” is being linked to Tory aide Carrie Symonds (his marital split has been confirmed) and he insists he will continue to “throw rocks” at Theresa May. All this is allegedly worrying his allies….but also supports the idea that BoJo thinks his route to Number Ten lies beyond the Conservative Party and has stopped worrying about what people think.
I’m all for the political Establishment eating itself unless that produces a vacuum which can be greedily filled by a corrupt bureaucracy working hand in hand with globalist corporate interests. Never forget that Whitehall also includes the security services, and an increasingly politicised ‘civil’ police force under the control of the Home Office. Further, the increased monetary influence of the EU, Soros, NATO and not always libertarian political donors must add to the concern.
One such topic is on my radar at the moment. I propose to write about it before too long.