We’re almost there. In 36 hours time we’ll know who the leader of the Conservative Party will be. My guess is that Boris will not only win, but win the ballot by a considerable margin. I estimate between 70 – 79% of the vote based on gut feeling and an intuitive understanding of what the vast majority of Tory grassroots want from their next leader.
I have written little about Boris since the contest began, partly because I’d prefer to see how events play out and whether he can actually deliver on Brexit what he’s promised. With Brexit lies the fate of the Conservative Party. Deliver it and he’ll win the next General Election handsomely. Bodge it and he’ll consign the party to electoral oblivion for a generation. That was the choice confronting May; it will be the choice confronting Boris. The difference is neither the party nor its members will have a choice of a third leader should he fail to do so.
Boris may only be Prime Minister for a number of weeks. The Times reports 6 Tories are ready to defect to the Lib Dems if he’s elected tomorrow, depriving him of a parliamentary majority before he’s even got his feet under the table at Number 10. If they do so and probably paralyse Commons business in the process, he’ll have little choice but to push the nuclear button on a General Election.
Assuming he does manage to stay in office through the summer, there is no doubt he’ll be measured on how determined he is to stand up to Brussels over their Brexit demands – not least on the Irish border backstop. Coveney was wheeled out yesterday on ‘The Andrew Marr Show’ to reiterate no change to that arrangement whatsoever. He even managed to say – with a straight face – it must be included for the sake of peace!. Sure, Si! Because only someone like you could demand the UK accepts the indefinite legal, regulatory, trade and customs annexation of Northern Ireland by the European Union, and see that outcome as reasonable. It isn’t! And persisting with it leaves the UK with the only alternative, no deal, as being the lesser of two evils. By demanding the unacceptable and impossible, the EU will be to blame for no deal if Boris Johnson is as true to his word as he claims he is. As a passionate Unionist, the backstop makes me feel almost physically sick as it provides Irish republicanism with its biggest constitutional leap since 1921.
Either Boris will be my hero in three months time as I prepare to jet off to India, or my forthcoming holiday there will be an antidote to the despair I’ll feel as the Establishment once again foils the electorate’s wishes on the back of a dishonest shyster. Which will it be? We’ll know soon enough.