David Cameron’s political future could be behind him, paradoxically, if the British electorate vote to quit the European Union in the forthcoming referendum.
A “defeat” for the prime minister, who passionately wants the UK to remain a member of the EU, would devastatingly damage – possibly fatally – his authority to lead the nation, and also to lead the split and snarling Conservative Party.
What is more, how could he, with all the goodwill in the world, given his anti-Brexit views, honestly conduct a breakaway deal with the hard-headed, immoveable members of the Brussels bureaucracy (I prefer to call them the “obduracy”)?
He may, of course, stand firm and refuse to budge, but if the British electorate defy him in such a massive way as this, the pressure on him to leave 10 Downing Street, could be nigh on impossible to resist.
Then the inevitable question: who will succeed him? It could be that in these circumstances one of the hot favourites, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, could have ruled herself out by supporting the Remain camp.
The current thinking is that it could be a battle between the Chancellor George Osborne, and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. My gut feeling is that the party would not want Boris Johnson as their leader, with the exception of people like the outspoken Nadine Dorries, even though she seems to have an inbuilt dislike for the idea of so-called “posh boys” running the party.
Such a situation could also eliminate the increasingly unpopular Chancellor. So who might it be? If I were a betting man, I think my money would go on the Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, despite his protestations that he is not interested in the job. How often have we heard that sentiment expressed before?
How ironic it would be if Cameron’s once great chum, Michael Gove, were to be instrumental in his downfall.
Watch this space...
• Dirty work at the crossroads?
The decision by the British Chambers of Commerce to suspend their Director General, John Longworth, for expressing pro-Brexit views, has been described as a scandal by Boris Johnson, who has subtly and cryptically suggested that Downing Street may have put pressure on the BCC to take this action.
Needless to say, Downing Street has denied any such move... Well, they would, wouldn’t they? as the late Mandy Rice-Davies might have said.
But this minor political explosion suggests the entire campaign will be a no-holds-barred affair with the Conservatives engaged in a bloody, self-harming political civil war from which it could take them months to recover.
Even Ukip, which you might have thought would remain united over the one issue that interests them, cannot avoid squabbling.
Ukip MEP Suzanne Evans has already been sacked twice within the past fortnight from key posts in the party. “Am I the most purged woman in British politics?” she inquires.
This is not going to be a battle for the faint-hearted.
• The black Labour MP Dawn Butler was unsurprisingly offended when a fellow MP sharing a House of Commons lift with her told her: “This lift really isn’t for cleaners.”
I remember sneaking into one of these lifts and to my horror, at the first stop, in walked Enoch Powell. He took one look at me and another at the “for MPs only” notice and then said, before getting out: “I must have missed the by-election.”
• Another “accolade” for the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Sir Bernard Ingham, who was Margaret Thatcher’s press secretary, has just described him as “the shabbiest politician in the West”.
It sounds rather like the opening of a comic song.