Tory civil war over Europe could leave the party fatally wounded

Chris Moncrieff
Chris Moncrieff

“The Conservative Party always bounces back from whatever crisis it faces,” the Tories’ political enemies frankly admit.

“It will never disappear,” they add.

But will the battle over Britain’s continued membership, or otherwise, of the European Union prove them wrong?

So, with Referendum Day, June 23, still nearly three months away, there is every prospect that the Tories, already split down the middle on this issue, could be fatally wounded by what is turning out to be a vicious civil war, and be consigned to oblivion.

And even if that did not happen, and the battle was won by the Brexiteers, David Cameron, who is leading the campaign to retain membership, would have lost the vital authority necessary when you are at the helm.

In short, he might have to stand down some two years before he planned to do so - towards the end of this Parliament. He may be testing the green back-benches a little before he wishes to.

But it is not the campaign alone that could drive the Tories to self-mutilation, and possible oblivion - but the aftermath could be just as toxic, if not more so.

So if the Euro-quitters win (and it is all too early to call just yet) it will not simply be a case of membership one day and non-membership the next.

Oh no! If the EU can complicate what you might have thought was a simple issue, it will do so.

Therefore, the pundits are already saying it could be at least two years before the United Kingdom becomes independent again, free from the shackles of Brussels, in the wake of a Brexit victory.

And it would be during those two years that the really serious damage could be inflicted on the Conservative Party.

So Cameron bears the awesome responsibility of not only saving his own political skin, but that of the Conservative Party after decades of glorious (or inglorious, depending on how you think) history.

• Things are not all sweetness and light in the Labour Party either. Leader Jeremy Corbyn has already been advised by some of his own party to “wake up” and take notice of what is going on around him.

There is certainly no decrease in the numbers and resolve of those Labour MPs who want to see his downfall - and the quicker the better.

Meanwhile, as Corbynites bury their heads in a ludicrous loyalty list of those who support him and those who don’t, they seem oblivious of the peril in which their leader stands.

The glint of the assassin’s knife is already becoming apparent.

Footballers who get the red card are said to be going off the pitch for an early bath. If he is not careful, the same could be happening to Jeremy Corbyn long before full time.

How many more times do we have to repeat the cliched mantra, “Charity begins at home” before ministers sit up and take notice?

There are few things that enrage the hard-pressed taxpayer more than the spectacle that his cash is being sent abroad in sackfuls in so-called overseas aid.

What is so virtuous about being over-generous to often undeserving people abroad, while depriving deserving people at home of the fruits of their own money?

For instance, the British Government has been accused of helping to fund a rigged election in Tanzania.

And already £172 million has been overspent on foreign aid by mistake, if you please! That is enough to keep the Port Talbot steel plant alive for six months. And so, while there is despair in the steel industry, we are giving £9 million to Nigeria to help its leather tanning industry.

Who are these people who play fast and loose, with our money? They are our governing classes who should be protecting us.

Why this scandal is allowed to continue, beggars belief.

• Poor old George Osborne, the Chancellor, seems to have disappeared from the pundits’ list of Tory leadership hopefuls in the wake of his now much-derided budget.

He need not despair. The pundits have been wrong every time they have predicted a political leader.

Hope springs eternal...