I know it’s a well worn cliche but here we are with our third Prime Minister in a handful of months in what has been the most extraordinarily turbulent time in British Politics. What was once seen globally as a steady and safe nation has been turned into a laughing stock. We have become the very thing that we used to laugh at, a banana republic but without bananas. So much for a strong and stable government.
Despite Johnson’s promulgation that he had ‘got Brexit done’ the referendum in 2016 is at the bottom of all this. If you don’t believe me then look at how the ERG still classifies MPs as remainer or leaver. The relationship with Europe and especially with the EU is still a fracture point within the Conservative Party. The referendum didn’t resolve the conflict and, in many ways, has exacerbated the problems. Even the Telegraph now accepts that the issues labelled as ‘project fear’ were true.
We are being told, however, that the problems we are facing are not because the underlying ideas are wrong but that they haven’t been implemented properly. Brexit has not been Brexity enough. Truss’ disastrous mini budget or financial event didn’t go far enough according to the ultra neo-liberal think tanks of 55 Tufton Street. This isn’t politics, it is religious bigotry and the problem is that you cannot argue against belief.
Getting back to the coronation of Sunak though, his first few days have at least been calmer and seemingly more professional than the early days of his predecessor. His choice of cabinet, however, shows just how riven the party still is. The saying keep your friends close but your enemies closer is very apt and it is clear that he is trying to hold together a coalition of the unwilling. Remember, he lost the selection process to be the leader of the party only two months earlier. He is not the members’ choice.
What has brought a smile to my face during these very unfunny times, has been watching those politicians eager to maintain their position in government, fawning over Sunak and reinventing their own histories, in particular those who supported Johnson. I have learnt that those who are uncomfortable with their recent past will claim to be the kind of politician who looks to the future, while those on the right side of the divide are very happy to look back.
Politics has always been murky but at the moment it is sludge. Sunak will appear to be a breath of fresh following Truss, but there is a very rocky road ahead, some of a global nature yet much caused by the Conservatives themselves.
Let’s see how long before the infighting takes over once again.