13 June 2019

Why the Conservative Party needs Rory Stewart

Since David Cameron bailed after the EU referendum the Conservative Party has been clinging onto Theresa May for fear of something worse. That something worse, however, is not so much the larger than life character Boris Johnson, but the knowledge of what happens to the Conservative Party once Boris is anointed Britain's Prime Minister.

If Boris Johnson is telling the truth and he will leave the EU “Come what may”, then the instant that No Deal is credible threat to the UK economy, the pro-Europeans in the Conservative Party, backed by the Confederation of Business and Industry and the opposition parties, will force a general election. From a Conservative perspective, therefore, that something worse is a self-inflicted Labour Government and, probably, no Brexit at all.
    The other option is to pick out another Remainer to replace Theresa May, but choosing Jeremy Hunt, is also a risk for the Conservative Party, because deep down the leave voters upon which they rely may find a more permanent home in the Brexit Party.  
Far from being the failure her colleagues have portrayed her to be, Theresa May, in terms of delaying the UK's exit from the EU, for Remainers a least, was a tremendous success, but the majority in the country expect the Conservatives to deliver Brexit so their leader has to make that happen. 
    So what is the Conservative Party to do?  If they pick Boris Johnson and he sticks to his No Deal guns, then there’ll be an election by Christmas.  On the other hand, if they pick Theresa May’s right-hand man in the Foriegn Office Jeremy Hunt, then the party risks prolonging the Brexit impasse and, at the same time, exacerbate the threat posed to them by the clarity and strong leadership offered by Brexit Party and Nigel Farage.
    Having not voted Conservative since John Major in the 90s I am perhaps a surprising advocate for Rory Stewart, but, as I see it, it is only he that can square the hellishly difficult dilemma of how to deliver Brexit without collapsing the UK economy, diminishing the country's international status, or dismantling the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.
Rory Stewart is the only Conservative candidate with a chance of achieving a satisfactory Brexit outcome for the British people.  Quite apart from believing that this person actually cares about the big issues, climate change, fairness and wants to overhaul social care, his strategy on Brexit, in the particular parliamentary circumstances the country finds itself, is the only candidate that is able deliver a sensible Brexit.
    So how will Rory do it? Well, first, as PM, Rory Stewart will immediately take No Deal off and Remain off the table. There will be those that will baulk at this idea, imagining that our Prime Minister should be somehow negotiate an International Treaty as like a company Sales Director.  As the last three years have established, trying to do deal with 27 other countries is not something you can just walk away from and hope for the best and to deny this is to accept further excruciating and damaging delay.   
    Because of the awful reality of a No Deal Brexit the EU know, as do a majority of the UKs MPs, that a NO Deal is so remote a possibility that it ceases to be the bargaining chip, all the other candidates say that it is.  In my view No Deal is not a credible threat and will not work in international diplomatic and political circles. 
Threatening Germany and France with No Deal may be an effective tactic for the US with its military and economic might, as it may have been for Britain in the 19thcentury, but it is naive  to imagine that the UK can negotiate so aggressively with 27 EU countries, with the level of power it is able to wield today. 
    For me personally the Conservative leadership contest is a win-win situation. If Boris Johnson wins we’ll have a general election and Labour Government sooner rather than later, but if Conservatives have the wisdom to vote for a candidate with the brains, negotiating skill and the humility to do a deal with the EU and without condemning millions of our poorest UK citizens to poverty by ushering in a No Deal Brexit, then in Rory Stewart Conservatives should be allowed one more chance to safely deliver a grown-up Brexit deal, and at the same time, do the right thing for Britain. 

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