Thursday, July 5, 2018

Gary Younge - Rudderless and riven by Brexit, the Tories have only one ambition left

The purpose of the Brexit referendum had precious little to do with the EU; it was simply the latest in a litany of efforts to quell the decades-long psychodrama within the Conservative party. Not only did it achieve the opposite – deepening and exacerbating the rancour within the party – it spread the infection to the country as a whole. For the past two years our government has been paralysed by an internal party feud that has held the nation’s future hostage.

“There are two kinds of European nations,” the Danish finance minister, Kristian Jensen, said last year. “There are small nations and there are countries that have not yet realised they are small nations.” Witnessing that realisation dawn on this government has been painful to watch; anticipating the consequences for generations to come has been excruciating. So on Friday at Chequers the government will do what it has been doing for the past two years: spend an inordinate amount of time negotiating with itself before producing a “solution” that is unworkable, only to take it to Brussels and discover it is also unacceptable. The problem is not just that they don’t have a rabbit; they don’t even have a hat.

Through a series of self-inflicted wounds the Conservative party has reduced itself to this: hovering between delusional and deranged, bluster and buffoonery. Insisting on concessions that have not been offered; suggesting solutions that have already been rejected; showing up to negotiations with nothing to offer; refusing to concede anything, only then to capitulate to everything. A party that has won an outright majority once in the last six elections – and held it for all of two years – while averaging 35% of the vote during that time, is pursuing its civil war and we are all collateral damage. If it were a dog you’d put it down; if it were a wedding you’d call it off. Not only for their own sake, but to prevent the harm they might do to others.

For Conservatives this crisis is no longer just about Europe. Brexit has thrown into question their raison d’etre as a party... read more: