Has there ever been a bunch of more selfish politicians?

Published by The Guardian (12th December, 2018)

It is hard not to conclude that the Tory hard right are intent on destroying their party and handing the country to Jeremy Corbyn as they move to depose Theresa May at this point in the corrosive Brexit process. Yes, she has made a series of dire mistakes, including triggering article 50 with no idea of how to achieve departure from the European Union and then throwing away her party’s majority. But for all her many failures, now is not the time to oust her amid political deadlock and a national crisis.

Has there ever been a bunch of more selfish politicians than these extremists, who have already sacrificed the previous three Tory prime ministers on the altar of their obsession with Europe? It was hard not to spew up my cereal listening to Bernard Jenkin, one of their shop stewards, claiming on the radio that ‘this is not a matter of self-indulgence … not a matter of one faction over another’. Once again, duplicitous chancers seek to deceive the electorate with cheap soundbites as they fight internal battles. Yet we can see with disturbing clarity now that Brexit could not be further from the national interest.

Is it any wonder voters have lost faith with politicians as they observe such arrogant behaviour at Westminster? The Brexiteers, many having fled office after discovering the difficulty of turning shallow slogans into reality, still spout their platitudes, shift stances with slippery ease and fail to answer the complex questions they posed. Yet they blame the prime minister for failing to do their factional bidding. The Tory insurgents are driven by one thing only: taking back control of their own careers, regardless of any cost to a country they see merely as collateral damage. Look at how the repellent Boris Johnson jokes about his weight as he limbers up for another tilt at the leadership, despite his record for incompetence and laziness as foreign secretary.

His oleaginous fellow Old Etonian Jacob Rees-Mogg marshals the army of hardliners. Yet it is fair to question whether anyone closely associated with the costly mess of Brexit, let alone these people who treat poorer citizens with such contempt, should ever be allowed close to power again. Meanwhile the jockeying for succession has started. So the supposedly loyal home secretary, Sajid Javid, has staked out his claim and even Esther McVey is acting coy over whether she wants the top job. ‘I’m quite enjoying this,’ said one cabinet minister to me last night. ‘The country needs a revolution.’

I am not enjoying this – not least since I have reported on revolutions in several nations, and know how they spin out of control, and nor, I suspect, are vast swaths of the country finding this fun. Most people desperately want politicians to focus on things that really matter such as our crumbling social care system, faltering health service and lack of affordable housing. Instead they witness pathetic, self-serving political games as the Tory civil war over Europe threatens to claim its next victim, even as the conflagration it has sparked threatens the country’s future.


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