I really don’t want to write another word about Boris Johnson. I have almost said it all. But there is a question which will mark the mettle of the man. Will he have the courage to make a personal statement tomorrow? My gut instincts tell me that he won’t. Like all bullies he is at heart a coward. His resignation was so calculated and so cynical that he is despised on both sides of the House. Without the trappings of office he will be a much diminished figure. Can he take the jeering, the cat calls the humiliation? And that’s just from his own side.
I have seen the great and the good destroyed when they don’t have the armour of the despatch box. I served in one parliament with Roy Jenkins. He was a towering figure, a Bletchley code breaker, a humane Home Secretary, a masterful Chancellor, a powerful president of the European Commission. And he was the leading member of the Gang of Four which really broke the mould of British politics. Out of nowhere the SDP were only 462,144 votes behind Labour in the 1983 election. It was a stupendous result and Jenkins had won a by election in the unlikely constituency of Glasgow Hillhead. He should have bestrode the chamber like a Colossus. Instead he became a figure of fun. He was humiliated, jeered at and became a broken figure. It was tragic to see this great, humane and rather proud man treated like dirt. And totally destroyed. Eventually he lost his seat to George Galloway in 1987.
Why? Because the Labour Party never forgave him for leading a desertion of their MPs to the SDP. It is instructive to remember precisely why. With the election of the saintly Michael Foot Labour had drifted to the left. And moderate MPs had the courage to set up a new party. But Michael Foot would look like a right winger compared to Corbyn and his gangsters.
If only Labour moderates today had the courage of Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rogers and Shirley Williams. They are a gutless rabble and deserve to be deselected. This is the modern tragedy of Labour.
There are two rules in politics which never fail. Firstly the public are reluctant to vote for a divided party. The Conservatives learned this lesson in 1997. The Bill Cash brigade infected with the theology of Brexit wanted to throw moderation to the wind and cast their party into the wilderness for a generation. They elected two ideologically pure leaders who could never win a general election. IDS and Howard. It was Theresa May as party chairman who warned that we had become the nasty party. It took David Cameron to detoxify the brand.
John Major had to put up with a lot. But it is nothing compared to the vile abuse that May has to put up with on a daily basis. The Chequers proposal was the beginning of something sensible. There has to be a compromise in politics as there is in trade deals. What astounds me is that If May had the courage to face down her Cabinet why can’t she face down the Mogg brigade? Not all the members of ERG are cultists. Many, like David Davies, want to exit the EU with as little damage to the economy as possible. It is common sense to have a Customs arrangement of some sort and a common rule book (as we would have to have in any trade deal) as long as Parliament call the shots. It is common sense to take account of decisions of the ECJ provided our courts call the shots. None of this is brain surgery.
The trouble is that moderate MPs are terrified of their associations and electors. And it’s their own fault. If they persist in spouting this nonsensical mantra that we must be bold, business is wrong, we need more belief in ourselves and little old Blighty will always muddle though, it’s not surprising that anything other than a clean break is regarded as a betrayal. Why don’t MPs just tell the public the truth? Silly me.
Only Michael Gove has bothered to spell out the importance of Chequers. Where is everybody else? I’ll tell you. They are spineless wimps hiding in their bunkers and praying for someone else to do the heavy lifting.
So what options do we have? A General Election? On what policy would we stand? Madness and it would let those committed Marxists and Brexiteers Corbyn and McDonnell in. They would declare a state of emergency and it would probably be the last free election we would ever have.
A referendum? But on earth would be on the ballot paper? And it would be dirtier and more dishonest than the last one.
A new moderate party drawn from Labour and Tory moderates? Sadly, nobody has the courage to put their heads above the parapets.
But the purists are spooked. They are beginning to realise that their dream is turning into a nightmare and are screaming betrayal. It’s all the fault of the elite. Business, bankers and anybody who is not a true believer. They are cornered, dangerous, seriously deranged and will stop at nothing to achieve a no deal crash out.
Could someone somewhere show some leadership? Some balls. Something. Anything. Our country is in mortal danger and we just stand like frightened rabbits in the headlights of the oncoming juggernaut. Hoping that something will turn up. It won’t.