Monday, 4 July 2016

The Brexit Bloodbath

It's approaching two weeks since the most contentious vote in generations, and the leadership of the main political parties has been thrown up in the air like confetti.

Nigel Farage held a press conference this morning, in which he announced his decision to step down as leader of UKIP; in his most recent 6-year stint, he's revitalised the party, from the electoral despair of 2010, to the Brexit outcome he desired for years.

Cue thousands of Britons hoping the door doesn't hit him on the way out. Just another pain in the neck, who launched an escape pod from Terra Firma, after pressing the scorched-Earth button, like Boris.

Boris met his Waterloo last week at the hands of fellow Vote Leave ally Michael Gove; if there's one thing top-class political thrillers leave you asking, it's "who needs enemies, when the friends are like this?"

Loyalty on the battlefield has been no guarantee, in the final climb to the top here. The Prime Minister will soon be gone, and in his wake, he leaves the Tories divided among the Brexiteers and the modern-day wets. At present, Theresa May appears to be rallying more MPs behind her cause.

Michael Gove's treachery has done him no favours; so far, it's estimated he's only got the backing of 20 MPs or thereabouts; Theresa May has over 100. Her nearest rival is likely to be Andrea Leadsom, darling of the Leave campaign. 

Leadsom was elected to the HoC in 2010, and despite claims she's too inexperienced, she's actually been in Parliament longer than David Cameron was when he made a bid for the leadership. The likes of Nigel Farage are hoping for a Brexiter to lead the Tories from here, so it will be interesting to see what lengths her rivals go to, to poison members against her.

Labour would have the right to gloat, if it wasn't for the fact that most of the shadow cabinet seats are vacant. After last week's no-confidence vote, where 172 MPs voted against Mr Corbyn, there's been signs of necrosis setting into the party's high command.

Moderate MPs want Corbyn out. Corbyn reportedly considered going, after a humiliating PMQs last week, but now it appears his inner circle have encouraged him to live and fight another day. It's simply unsustainable for a potential party of government to be so disunited. It's all just a question of who goes first: the PLP rebels or the man at the top. Things could be messy.

The outcome that MPs are really not wanting to have to consider is a split, the thermonuclear option. It would be an admission that Labour has failed to come back from the abyss this time, after flirting with the militant tendency in the 1980s. We're likely to see the birth of a new centrist political project, if rebels decide their efforts are in vain. They might form an SDP/Liberal-style alliance with the Lib Dems, or even join them outright.

It would be a traumatic political event, but would be a step towards reflecting the political fault lines of the country more accurately. If the Tories choose a Brexiter to lead them into the autumn conference and beyond, UKIP will start to feel the pinch, despite having got the Brexit it always wanted. 

A more moderate leader would face sniping over not doing enough for Brexit. UKIP might pose a serious challenge, and risk unseating if they remain gridlocked for a long time.


The following bit is a new development that came to light, just as this article was being polished off for publishing.

Andrea Leadsom reportedly gave a disappointing performance at the first Tory party hustings, in preparation for the leadership election. BuzzFeed's political correspondent Emily Ashton has just reported that an MP leaving the room after the hustings called her performance a "f***ing shambles".

All the leadership contenders were allotted 15 mins to address MPs, and Leadsom reportedly started to lose her audience 3 minutes into her speech. There was allegedly trouble concerning Leadsom and UKIP. BuzzFeed reports she was asked about links to the party 3 times.

The troubles may have arisen, when she reportedly spoke about emotional development and the frontal lobe of the brain, as well as claiming she would activate Article 50 immediately, only to go and say she'd delay it minutes later. These claims are made here.

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