BREXIT: Cameron may yet lead the Conservatives into the wilderness


I’ve been pondering this chart from Open Europe about the latest declared opinion spectrum on Brexit in the Conservative Party:


Like many people, after a first career in market research I am dubious about polls as a means of translating what people say into what they do; but my chief interest in the chart above isn’t a short term one. Rather, it’s about what these numbers say about the future potential of the Tory Party.

The chart shows clearly that the Conservatives are split right down the middle about the EU….as indeed, they always have been. Whereas, over half a century, Labour’s PLP has gone from being a job-protectionist opponent of the EEC to being the rabid supporter of all things Brussels,  Tories tend to be obsessive about the issue of sovereignty, and the whole experience of “being British” on the one hand or enthusiastic supporters of Suprastate corporate globalism on the other. In turn, every Prime Minister since Ted Heath has been forced to tread gently through the minefield of xenophobia and munneeephilia in the House plus the reality that grassroots Party workers and consituency activists are overwhelmingly eurosceptic.

Anyone who thinks that the result on June 23rd will bring closure to this issue is dancing on a rainbow with the same fairies who think Scottish independence will gradually wither away because we had a referendum about it. I find it extraordinary that those north of the Border would prefer to be under the interfering diligence of the EC rather than the cynical disinterest of Whiteminster, but then that is a measure of just how much the average ScotNat hates being under the Sassenach yoke….and how utterly Londoncentric most UK governments are.

I mention the Scottish question because it has been assumed by many (including myself) that the eventual break up of the UK will lead to permanent Tory dominance in what would presumably become England and Wales. But as the Brexit drama unfolds, I’m no longer so sure.

Let us suppose that the Remain camp carries the day. Within a year, it is highly possible – in fact, probable  – that we will find ourselves handcuffed to an unpleasant Brussels-am-Berlin clique breaking every promise it made while gaily jumping into the sea wearing concrete wellies. Equally, it is a near-certainty that George Osborne’s fantasy economic ‘policy’ will be in tatters. And finally, those who think UKIP would just go away should remember the clean sweep of the SNP in Scotland after the referendum went against them.

Political realignments do not take place until such time as enough backbench MPs feel their reelection to be seriously threatened. If, around 2018, UKIP were at last to attract enough voters disenchanted with fluffy Labour Corbynism and heartless Tory surrender, it wouldn’t be long before Conservative constituency associations made such a reality plain.

That could produce a split so visceral as to torpedo the Tories below the waterline…and David Cameron’s legacy would be that of a latter-day Lloyd George leading the Party into a wilderness.

Stranger things have happened.

Earlier at The Slog: Will the élites come to blows about gold and plastic?

19 thoughts on “BREXIT: Cameron may yet lead the Conservatives into the wilderness

  1. CMD’s referendum ,whatever the outcome, is going to piss off at least 45 percent of those that vote,and in the event of a Remain win, 60 percent of Tory members., who have halved in number under his leadership. Good luck to CMD’s successor in 2020. FWIW, my money is that tactical voting by Labour voters for LEAVE, and a strong turnout by UKIP and Tory outers will give LEAVE a narrow victory.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Three and a half months is a very long time in politics. The female vote will be remain, so some uphill there. Too early to call, but the knives are rightly out for Cameron. If it is true that we are unable to quickly sever the ties in the event of a Brexit vote – then we HAVE been properly stitched up over the years. Given that the eu project is probably already dead, the vote may be largely academic.
    ccGCHQ FU xx

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I see they dismantled, brutally I might add, the migrant camps in Calais today, maybe the threat of mass migration has been taken seriously by some eh? And now we can await the backlash from out Muslim friends?


  4. @Ricoh

    In all the best horror stories, and this is certainly one, the dead have a nasty habit of becoming the undead: perhaps the secret to UK recovery lies in homegrown garlic consumption/export under the auspices of an Uncommon Agricultural Policy..


  5. H
    I grow garlic, almost self-sufficient in it – oops, as well as onions – does that make me French and on the cusp of glory?


  6. i can only go on local opinion which seems to be 3/4 out of 5 wanting out,Cameron suddenly bringing the referendum forward by a year,could he want out i unwilling to debate,ii the party being both sides of the argument iii the obvious failure to achieve any meaningful reforms iv if they have decided that the wheels are coming off the economy then a quick exit economic slump and the blame can be pushed onto the electorate and not where it belongs.


  7. I think the referendum will show that people just won’t vote for politicians any more. I think there will be a huge Brexit vote, and it probably won’t show up in the polls beforehand.
    I think the SNP whitewash in the general election was also an anti-politician vote. The SNP may have been the party in power in Edinburgh, but they had only 6 Westminster MPs before the election. Labour and Lib-Dems got rejected. Tories didn’t have much to lose.
    The number of MPs jumping to the tune of their leader is only going to make the vote more decisive


  8. I think the idea is that Cameron takes the blame for whatever happens; Boris Johnson then takes over and pretends to be a compromise candidate on the side of the grassroots Tories and ‘moderate’ voters, bringing the party and country together – and its business as usual for the establishment.
    If the Tory split were serious, there would have been resignations long ago. It’s all posturing to try to con the voters and outmanoeuvre genuinely radical politicians like Corbyn. The worsening state of the economy poses more of a threat to the Tories than Europe, in my opinion.


  9. Yes. School Bully. Michael Palin’s Ripping Yarn had it to a tee: “The previous holder of the post left to take up a position in the Cabinet”,


  10. JW

    I agree with much of what you say, but there will never ever be another Scottish referendum.

    Just work out the size of the deficit in an independent Scotland to see why.. Indeed get somebody to ask Sturgeon the size of said deficit.

    We are worse off than Greece….so never ever another referendum

    Sorry to spoil your arguement but c’est la vie


  11. He managed to get him self into this situation and unfortunately for him he cannot blame the fag’s this time. His comical taking off the jacket on the 6 o’clock news every night is pure Crosby and also owes much to the John Major hustings school of serious talking. What’s also fun is that after the Scottish Ref no one wants to campaign with the Tories so they are left to scrap among themselves , leaving the public both Tory and non-Tory shaking their collective heads on the side lines. I just wonder when the Tory grandee’s will take Cameron aside and hand him the metaphorical loaded revolver , for the good of the party old boy.


  12. Despite his many faults, Lloyd George had rather more real achievements to his name, and credit, than Cameron could rack up in a hundred years.


  13. Thing is, the Conservative and Unionist Party was set up at a time when Europe was a set of nation states we were usually at war with. They bothered themselves with the niceties of the Corn Laws and the IRA, whereas the Hun were folks to beat in war if necessary and the French were either allies or opponents depending on who we were fighting against.

    There is little in the history of the CUP to make many of them have too much time for luvvy divvy egalite and fraternite at a European level. That was for the wussies on the Left of the Labour Party.

    And as the rise of the CUP correlated with the creation, establishment and victory of the British Empire with its never setting sun, there was little in there to wonder about what it was all about when the Empire was gone, the Yanks were the ones who would never, never, never be slaves and the family silver had all been sold off. Selling off family silver was what profligate socialists were supposed to do. What to make of a Tory Chancellor who agrees to fund hugely expensive nuclear power to benefit the Frogs? What to make of a Club of Thieves in Brussels who wanted to bung Tory Bigwigs to stuff Tory down-at-heel supporters??

    There are also questions of how CUP adapts to a non-Christian society: there aren’t enough people at prayer any more for the CUP to be elected by the CofE faithful, after all.

    And there are the ever louder calls for the whole of England outside London and the SE to get hold of all its money lodged in the City so it can run its own regions for the benefit of its own regions rather than for the bankers in London who’d live anywhere in the world as long as electronic banking guarantees absolute privacy no matter what they are doing behind closed doors…….

    There are still plenty of wealthy people out there. The question is whether they any longer have any values traditionally ascribed to the CUP……….

    But then again, you could say the same about the Liberal Democrats, the Labour Party too, couldn’t you??


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