Today we learned that a quarter of Conservative Party MPs in David Cameron’s Cabinet are Eurosceptics. I know, I’m as surprised as you are – as high as that!
The newspapers are now claiming that pressure is growing on Mr Cameron on this basis, but of course having a quarter of the Cabinet loosely Eurosceptic is hardly going to force anyone out of their jobs – not least the milquetoast Tories that currently occupy said roles.
For the avoidance of doubt, a UKIP Cabinet would be 100 percent Eurosceptic. Or should that be ‘Euro-Realistic’ given that almost every prediction from UKIP sources about the collapse of the Eurozone, coupled with the sharp rises in migration to the UK have come true?
The latest one out of the blocks is PM-hopeful Owen Paterson, who on Monday – in a speech I’m told was intentionally eclipsed by Theresa May’s speech on terrorism – told of how he was now the go-to guy for Euroscepticism within the Tory Party.
It’s no surprise that Mr Paterson has chosen to speak up, on this issue, right now. He’s always been a sound chap, and I like him a great deal – but he’s obviously positioning himself for a Tory Party leadership bid. Yes, just four years after that ‘rose garden’ moment – the Tories are already back at war with one another. Gove vs. May vs. BoJo vs. Paterson vs. God Knows Who! Aren’t they supposed to be running a country?
Of course if Mr Paterson is keen to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, triggering a ‘Brexit’, I would more than welcome it. But I suspect, as Mr Carswell and Mr Reckless did recently, that the Tory powers that be would allow no such thing. Basically Mr Paterson would have been better off joining UKIP – he’d have had a greater chance of helping Britain leave the EU. And here’s why:
One quarter of the Tory Cabinet are so-called Eurosceptics. Out of this number, I would imagine, at a kind estimate, that 50 percent of them would be willing to flip flop on their values for something like a promotion, or maybe even if their position was on the line. This means, just 12.5 percent of the Tory Cabinet are likely to be real, dyed-in-the-wool Eurosceptics. Which in turn means that 72.5 percent of the Cabinet are not. They are Europhiles.
Now I’ll give you that this is highly unrepresentative of the Tory Party membership, but I can’t remember the last time the Conservative Party took its membership seriously, or cared what they thought outside of an election period. The party axed its internal democratic mechanisms, their conferences are little more than lobbying-fests, and half the time their candidates are picked from central office, depending on who the Prime Minister and Party Chairman has taken a shine to at the time.
So there you have it, Mr Paterson – noble as your cause may indeed be. You have a mountain to climb in the shape of nearly 4 in 5 of your colleagues being set against you. Of course UKIP has faced odds like that before and this year we won several by-elections and a major national election – so it’s not to say that Mr Paterson can’t do it. The question is – why would he want to?
Why repeat the work that UKIP has already done? The ground we’ve already broken? The groundswell we’ve already created?
I can only assume it is one of the following reasons: stubbornness, ego, or the whole thing is a farce. Which do you think it is?