Top Tories warn: hard Brexit stance could lose us next election
Close on the heels of my piece from yesterday (3rd December 2016), suggesting that the days of Theresa May are numbered, comes today’s story in the Guardian, reporting that a group of former Conservative ministers and MP's are urging the Prime Minister to spell out her EU strategy as the conservatives could lose the next general election if she alienates its core of moderate supporters by imitating UKIP and pushing through a hard Brexit.
This latest piece of "advice", coming from former cabinet minister Dominic Grieve, former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt, former transport minister Claire Perry and MP's Neil Carmichael and MP Ben Howlett, will not have been very welcome for the Prime Minister who has been bombarded recently by contradictory "advice" from those members of her government and elements of the media, pushing for a "Hard Brexit", without further delay.
This places the Prime Minister in a very difficult position. Should she adopt the "soft Brexit" line in favour of the United Kingdom not being part of the European Union but keeping unfettered access to the European single market, where goods and services would be traded with the remaining EU states on a tariff-free basis and financial firms would keep their "passporting" rights to sell services and operate branches in the EU, she will alienate nearly half of her cabinet and backbench MP's together with large sections of her party and conservative voters around the country. However, should she choose the "Hard Brexit" option, as urged by Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, John Whittingdale and Theresa Villiers Peter Lilley, John Redwood amongst others and also by elements of the British media, she will alienate the other parts of her MP's and conservative members.
|Iain Duncan Smith|
It is a position for which she only has herself to blame. I have compared her dithering and inability to make decisions to that of Stanley Baldwin in the 1930's. I was wrong. She is not that good.
Her position is not helped by the impending hearing at the Supreme Court of the governments appeal against the High Court ruling that the government did not have the power to trigger Article 50 using what is known as "prerogative powers". The indications are that this appeal too will be rejected and the government will have to return to Parliament to debate the trigger for Article 50 negotiations. This should have been the course in any case without the cabinet seeking to bypass Parliament by employing the "Royal Prerogative" to commence Article 50. This gross error of judgement was further compounded when Theresa May chose to appeal the High Court decision and build in further delays to her self imposed time-scale. Even now, senior Conservative MP's such as Oliver Letwin, are urging the Prime Minister to abandon the appeal and go to the Commons with clear and definitive proposals outlining the United Kingdom’s position. Clearly, such proposals do not exist, which again emphasises the Prime Ministers ineptitude, both on the outcome of the referendum and on the course of implementing, or not implementing, the decision arising from the result of the June 23rd vote.
The Prime Minister has painted herself into a corner, where her position within her own government and party is fast becoming untenable. She is faced with contradictory and irreconcilable "advice" where which ever option she chooses is inevitably, the wrong one. The time has now arrived where for the good of the country and for the benefit of the people, the Prime Minister must invoke section 2 of the Fixed Term Parliament Act and trigger a General election, with Brexit as a central issue. Only in this way can the mess created by this government on the issue of Great Britain's continued membership or exit there from, be clearly and finally resolved.