Friday, 27 April 2018
The Tory Leadership Stakes
I was never one of those who joined in with the praise for Amber Rudd in the wake of a decent performance in one of the debates during the referendum campaign. On the back of this and following the elevation of Theresa May, she was likewise elevated to her present position. It's never really been clear why. It was even less clear why she was spoken of in some circles as a potential leader. Her performance over the last few days have presumably put paid to such talk, which is something to be thankful for. Amber Rudd would make a disastrous PM. She is nearly as cardboard as Theresa May. Yes, cardboard. Just as lacking in any dynamism as wood but flimsier.
Not that I believe that she should now resign from the Home Office. She is not the first to struggle to manage that clumsy behemoth and won't be the last. For Diane Abbott, her opposite number to criticise her is hilarious. The Windrush debacle has been just that, a debacle. But it is no more than that and the Government has held up its hands, apologised and promised to put matters right. Contrast that with the attitude of Marxist Labour on a range of issues starting at anti-Semitism and misogyny right up to their serial inability to get figures right when asked about them. Imagine these numpties in power actually trying to implement their teenage policies of wishful thinking and fantasy economics.
There is a good chance you know that we are going to be talking about the next leader a great deal in the next week or two. It's not just that Brexit and the non issue of Northern Ireland and the customs union are wreaking havoc on Westminster and the governmental ranks. It's also the fact that, this time next week, we will likely be waking up to a Tory bloodbath in the local elections. It's entirely possibly that they will be wiped out completely in London - not a single Conservative held council. The picture may not be as bad across the country and that might be what saves the Prime Minister. But it shouldn't.
Tory MPs have been saying now for months that May could be the time when they may have to move against the PM and force her out. She then had a better few weeks as the issues she faced played to her strengths. But then Windrush and now Brexit are once again ruthlessly exposing her weaknesses. And they are numerous.
A good leader would have hit back hard against the rumour mill and the mutterings about the customs union nonsense. The people voted for Brexit, she should have said. Staying in a customs union makes no sense either from the standpoint of leaving Europe or even if you are a disappointed remainer who nevertheless accepts the will of the people however reluctantly. Not only would we not be able to negotiate our own trade deals we would have them dictated for us by the EU without any say in the matter. It would be a disaster for the country when those advocating it misrepresent it as a way of protecting jobs. In reality it would be a surefire way to export them to Europe.
Mrs May should be saying that this is an issue so fundamental that she would not hesitate to make it a confidence motion. In other words vote it down and we are in election territory. In truth we may need one anyway to settle the matter.
If that happens then the Conservative Party will need a new leader and one who will stand up for Britain and tell the EU to get stuffed if necessary. On issue after issue they are trying it on and Mrs May is running up the white flag. It has to stop.
There are a good few ministers now clearly on manoeuvres as they sense that a leadership election is now a distinct possibility. Michael Gove has been on a campaign footing for months and should probably be given Amber Rudd's job if only to bury his chances. Michael Gove should not be the next leader. The public hates him. Gavin Williamson has likewise been campaigning for months but his chances are nil. He is laughable. Boris is also stepping up his campaign but is likely no longer a viable choice. Who does that leave? It leaves Jacob Rees-Mogg. Whatever he says he is also very much interested in the top job. Why else would he utter the very un-Mogg word 'cretinous' this week? Not that he was wrong.
This blog once backed Boris for the leadership. That seems like a long time ago now. I now back Jacob Rees-Mogg, or JRM as we should perhaps start referring to him as. The Moggster is the man who has the star power that Boris once used to enjoy and who manages to combine it with gravitas and intelligence. He is like our anti-Trump, a serious politician for serious times, unashamedly posh, unashamedly old fashioned and yet with all of the right credentials but no track record to hold against him. And he's a proper Tory. After months of hesitation I now believe that he is the man to take over and to lead us out of the EU, if necessary by walking out on the negotiations. That has to happen sooner rather than later. Jacob Rees-Mogg would scare the life out of the EU and put us back on the front foot. But more than that he would scare the hell out of Marxist Labour. In a week's time the Conservatives are expecting a disaster. It might lead to sunlit uplands.