Another casualty of Brexit?
Published by The Mail on Sunday (2nd July, 2016)
They came together in common cause to pull Britain out of Europe. But one by one they stumbled in their attempts to seize the Tory crown.
First Boris Johnson saw long-held ambitions dashed by back-stabbing fellow Brexiteer Michael Gove. Then the Justice Secretary, making his own bid for power, discovered Westminster colleagues distrusted him after the brutality of his betrayal.
So internal party critics of David Cameron, many of whom had long sought his ousting, suddenly coalesced around a new champion, Andrea Leadsom.
Never mind that Leadsom was a little-known Energy Minister whose claim to running the country seemed based largely on one assured performance in a Brexit debate.
For the hard Right, that was enough. They are determined to stop Theresa May – who quietly backed Remain – from seizing power. So they promoted this former banker as the tough-talking inheritor of Margaret Thatcher’s mantle.
She shared their social conservatism, failing to support gay marriage, and is a fierce supporter of the free market.
Thatcher did not stand for the leadership in fury at failing to get written assurances of a top job from a bumbling colleague such as Boris. Yet this snub seems to have been enough to persuade Leadsom to shoot for the nation’s highest office.
Aged 53, this committed Christian has only been in Parliament since 2010 after 25 years in finance, although she first developed her political ambitions 40 years earlier.
Now it emerges that having campaigned with passion about the ‘opportunities’ offered by Brexit, she may have taken a rather different tack in the past and admitted it would be a disaster for the economy.
One more unedifying twist is a depressing saga that has put another stain on the soiled image of Westminster, with deception, hypocrisy and lies.
Behind Brexit lay the desire of some Tory malcontents to reclaim their party from Cameron’s moderate wing. Little wonder it has been called a Right-wing coup; Europe was merely the means to achieve their aims.
One of those involved told me they planned to call for Cameron to resign in the event of last year’s General Election resulting in another Coalition. Their plot was postponed after his shock victory.
It’s no surprise to see that Leadsom’s backers include Iain Duncan Smith, the worst Tory leader in modern memory, whose embittered Cabinet resignation three months ago effectively fired the starting gun on this crisis.
More emollient Brexiteers such as Chris Grayling are backing Mrs May. The Leader of the House argued publicly and privately for Cameron to stay regardless of the referendum result, to ensure stability.
World events have shown how civil wars spiral out of control. As these people play a self-serving game of thrones, the country’s stability lies in ruins.